IT security co-ordinators or specialists deal with protecting clients’ computer systems and information from security risks. They identify problems and develop plans to protect information from threats such as unauthorised access, data theft or file damage and data loss.
You would deal with a wide range of threats to electronic data including hacking, scammers, viruses, spyware, deliberate information overload, and corruption of data.
You could be:
- looking for potential security threats to a client’s computer systems, networks or data, such as illegal data access or changes, or deliberate or unintentional file damage
- developing and putting a security strategy in place to protect data systems against any threats
- investigating and responding to security breaches, such as people trying to get access to information who shouldn’t be
- utilising encryption methods and firewalls (protecting a network), monitoring file usage, and deciding who gets access to information on a network
- installing and upgrading security software and testing new products
- monitoring client firewalls, networks and other devices
- testing network systems, and looking for any weaknesses or security holes
- giving technical advice to clients, or training employees in security awareness and procedures
- preparing reports for clients, making recommendations for solutions including hardware and software programmes.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual salaries may vary, depending on:
- where you work
- the size of the company or organisation you work for
- the demand for the job.
Starting salaries are around £25,000 a year. This would rise to between £33,000 and £60,000 a year experience.
Your salary can vary if you work as a consultant or are freelance.
- You would be based in an office if you work for a company.
- If you work as a consultant, you would travel to clients’ offices or meetings.
- Working hours are 35-40 hours a week, but you might have to work overtime depending on the project you are working on.
- You might sometimes have to be on call to deal with unexpected problems on evenings or weekends.
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- Most entrants have a degree in a computing or IT related discipline.
- Relevant courses include; computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, network security, information security, forensic computing, information technology, or mathematics.
- Entry requirements for degree courses are normally 4-5 Highers including Maths or a science or technological subject, plus National 5 English.
- If you already have an HND in computing or computing networking, you can apply for Year 3 of the BSc in Cyber Security and Networks, at Glasgow Caledonian University.
- There are many HNC and HND courses in computing and IT. Entry requirements are normally 1-2 Highers, plus subjects at National 5, including Maths or science or technological subjects.
- Edinburgh Napier University offers a degree course in Computer Security and Forensics. Entry requirements are 4 Highers including Maths or a science or technological subject, plus National 5 English and Maths (if not held at Higher).
- It helps to get as much experience as you can, or gain experience in an IT related discipline.
- You might be able to get in through a Modern Apprenticeship in Information Security at Level 3 at SCQF Level 6 or a Technical Apprenticeship in Information Security at SCQF Level 8. Check the Skills Development Scotland (SDS) website for details.
- You could start out in a related job, for example a network engineer or database administrator, and gain skills and qualifications with on the job training.
Job prospects are good as more organisations rely on the internet and IT services to run their businesses. In particular, organisations normally most at risk from internet threats and attacks are financial organisations, such as banks, local and central government and military organisations.
Some large organisations, such as BT, Network Rail and energy companies, offer apprenticeships and school leaver programmes in cyber security.
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What Does it Take?
You need to have:
- a keen interest in and aptitude for IT
- good writing and presentation skills to communicate findings
- knowledge of information security threat types
- excellent attention to detail
- a logical systematic and analytical approach
- excellent problem solving skills.
You need to be able to:
- keep up to date with the latest IT developments, standards and legislation
- understand the business needs of your company or client
- work under pressure to deadlines
- understand the laws relating to information and data security.
- You would probably start out as a security analyst and work your way up to security consultant with experience on the job.
- The University of Glasgow offers the MSc Information Security, which you can study full or part time if you are working. Entry requirement is a good Honours degree with computing as a major subject.
- You will need to keep up to date with industry standards and procedures.
- You can study for a range of specialist IT security qualifications such as those offered by ISACA, (ISC)2 or the Institute for Information Security Professionals (IISP).
- You will need to keep up to date with the latest developments in security threats, and learning new investigative methods and software. Cyber crime is an ever changing and fast moving area.
- You will need to learn about scripting languages and database development (such as Java, C#, WPF, MySQL, Oracle).
- You need to be familiar with a range of operating systems, such as Windows, iOS (Apple Macintosh), Linux, UNIX or DOS.
- Modern Apprentices would receive on and off the job training, working towards the Diploma for Information Security Professionals at SCQF Level 6, or the Diploma at SCQF Level 8 (Technical Apprenticeship).
- With experience, you can move on to IT analyst or IT security manager jobs.
- You could become self-employed on a freelance basis.
- You could work as a consultant advising different organisations.
The term cyber security covers the security of the internet, telecommunications networks and computer systems. It is a fast developing area, with the UK cyber workforce having grown by 160% in 5 years (2016).
As more organisations realise the importance of data protection due to their business relying on the internet and IT systems, the prospects for security professionals has never been better. According to the Tech Partnership, of all IT security jobs, the most commonly advertised in the UK is Security analyst, at 19%.
You should check out The Cyber Security Challenge website, a government and industry initiative encouraging involvement in the industry through competitions, and providing information on how to start a career in this ever evolving and growing area.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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