Information Systems Security Majors Guide

What Does it Mean to Study Information Systems Security?

The use of computer technology is essential to the workplace. Computers help businesspeople produce work, share information with co-workers, archive documents and files, and manage operations, along with other typical business functions. Unfortunately, the sophistication of criminal activity evolves as quickly as technology. Illegal hacking and information theft are costing companies billions of dollars in lost revenue and productivity each year. In this environment, information systems security has developed: the study of technologically safeguarding an organization’s or a company’s information.

Types of Information Systems Security Degrees

Academic programs regarding information systems security can take on many forms and come in many different degree levels. Additionally, as technology continues to advance, more schools are offering information systems security degree programs online. Students in online information systems security degree programs may have the ability to tailor their schedule and courseload to better fit alongside other existing commitments, such as a full-time job or a family member who needs care.

Certificates in Information Systems Security

Online certificate programs encourage students to learn and improve skills in a narrow, specific facet of the information systems field. Certificate programs vary, and potential students should discuss particular programs with school admissions counselors.

Bachelor’s Degrees in Information Systems Security

The bachelor’s of science degree is a strong foundation for forging a career in the computer technology field. Bachelor’s of science degree programs in information systems security typically focus heavily on practical training, computer engineering, science, computer and technology security, troubleshooting, and communications. Typically intense and rigorous, B.S. programs also place immense emphasis on a student’s ability to understand complex, sophisticated technology and to develop a strong background in information security.

Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in information systems security should expect to commit to approximately four years of academic study. Online degree programs in information systems security make it possible to earn a degree from any student friendly location with Internet access.

Information Systems Internships

Because information systems security involves the ability to apply technology and safeguards to an organization’s information systems, this career field requires hands-on experience as well as academic coursework. Students may have the opportunity to acquire both by participating in internships throughout the course of their information systems security degree programs.

Landing a college internship can be competitive; many companies are looking for interns who excel academically, who demonstrate leadership potential, who are willing to work hard, and who can communicate effectively, which is no small order to fill. However, the benefits of earning practical experience in the field before graduating can be well worth it.

Students should note that it is not uncommon for a student to intern at the same company for multiple summers, and it is also not uncommon for companies to offer full-time employment to outstanding interns upon graduation. Check with your school and see if they have any internship-related resources available that can help point you in the right direction.

What Can You Do With a College Degree in Systems Security?

Studying information systems security can open the door to many related careers in computer programming, system management, software engineering, computer support and systems analysis. In other words, there are a variety of careers that can be pursued after earning an information systems security degree, including:

Management Information Systems Directors

A professional with this job title usually oversees the information systems used by an entire organization. Typical job responsibilities include selecting and overseeing the installation and upgrading of software, overseeing a technical help desk, and work to ensure the security of an organization’s information. Information systems directors may directly manage a staff of information systems technicians, and depending on the size of the organization, he may report to the chief information officer.

Securing the information systems of an organization is an important function of an information systems director’s position. Even the most ideal, optimized information system is not as useful to an organization if it isn’t secure. Therefore, information systems directors and managers are often highly trained in information systems security and rely on this background heavily in performing their job’s tasks.

Computer Programmer

The work of a computer programmer involves writing, applying, and testing various instructions computers must follow to perform appropriately. Professionals in this field have a strong background in computer science and information systems. Computer programmers develop solutions and enable computers to function optimally through use and understanding of various programming languages.

Computer programming is definitely a field that requires continuously updating and building new skills and capabilities. Often, a computer programmer may assist in the implementation of new security systems updates and developments, so a background in information systems security is helpful.

Computer Systems Analyst

Professionals working as computer systems analysts are charged with the task of solving computer problems and applying computer technology to fit the needs of an organization. Additionally, systems analysts guide an organization to get the most out of investing in computer equipment, technology and personnel.

It is common for a systems analyst to specialize in a system, including business, accounting, or financial systems, or scientific and engineering systems, for example. Because the integrity of a computer system is extremely important, training in information systems security is helpful for computer systems analysts.

Computer Support Specialist

Many non-technical professionals are not computer experts and are often confronted with computer issues that they cannot correct and address on their own. A computer support specialist offers support, assistance and advice to customers and clients who are experiencing computer-related issues. These professionals interpret problems and suggest solutions, as well as helping clients to choose, install and upgrade safety measures that can stop these problems from occurring again in the future.

A computer support specialist may speak to clients over the phone, work on-site as a consultant, work full-time for an organization, or work on their own initiative as a contractor.

Information Systems Security Career Trends

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, job growth in information systems security is expected to increase much faster than the national average from 2006 through 2016.

Systems Security Licensing and Certification

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Information security professionals can earn the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification. Available through the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC), requirements for this certification include: multiple years of relevant, professional security experience; complying with a professional code of ethics; and passing a comprehensive examination on information security.

A CISSP certification must be renewed every three years. To recertify, a professional can participate in research or study projects, attend training and professional education programs, present or publish information security papers, and/or become involved with certain related professional organizations.

Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)

Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) certification was created to recognize an international standard for practitioners of information security. Candidates hoping to earn SSCP certification must pass an examination. Topics covered on the exam include access controls; administration; audit and monitoring; risk, response and recovery; cryptography; data communications; and malicious code.

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) Certification

The Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) designation is hosted by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association. The CISM certification is oriented towards business and information risk management, as well as the design of safeguards and technical security issues on an abstract, conceptual level.

To earn and retain the Certified Information Security Manager designation, a candidate must successfully complete the CISM Examination; subscribe to the Information Systems Audit and Control Association’s Code of Professional Ethics; and submit verified evidence of at least five years of information security work experience, with at least three years of experience working in information security management in a minimum of three of the designated CISM job practice areas.

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) Certification

Awarded by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, the CISA designates information systems professionals with an interest in information systems auditing, control, and security. To qualify for the CISA certification, candidates must successfully pass the CISA exam; adhere to the Information Systems Audit and Control Association’s Code of Professional Ethics; submit evidence of at least five years of professional information systems auditing, control or security experience; and adhere to a continuing education program.

Symantec Certifications

Symantec offers four levels of certification for security professionals who can demonstrate a broad knowledge of both Symantec products and other information systems security technologies. Symantec offers training programs that can help candidates to learn about the material on their certification examinations.

Symantec Certifications offered include:

  • Symantec Product Specialist (SPS) Certification
    Earning this distinction demonstrates knowledge and experience with a specific Symantec product.
  • Symantec Technology Architect (STA) Certification
    Obtaining this certification demonstrates knowledge and experience with one on the four vendor neutral security disciplines.
  • Symantec Certified Security Engineer (SCSE) Certification
    A security professional that earns this certification has demonstrated knowledge and experience with one of the four vendor neutral security disciplines and the related Symantec products.
  • Symantec Certified Security Practitioner (SCSP)
    Earning this distinction demonstrates knowledge and experience with all four of the vendor neutral security disciplines and all related Symantec products.

Informational Systems Security Professional Associations and Certification Bodies

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