Just about every online purchase or any other transfer of sensitive data has a team of information systems security experts working behind the scenes to keep it secure. Without dedicated professionals working to make sure that online transmissions are secure, users would be in danger of identity theft or another form of information super-highway robbery every time they clicked the "Send" button.
The specific tasks performed by information security experts can vary from project to project, but there are a few duties that tend to be common among most professionals in the field:
- Developing organizational policies and standards for information security
- Watching networks for suspicious activity and investigating potential threats
- Setting up and administrating information security protocols and prophylactic software
- Performing simulated attacks, also known as penetration tests, to attempt to discover security vulnerabilities before malicious attackers can exploit them
- Working with technology executives to ensure that organizational security measures are appropriate and up to date
Although it is technically possible to find jobs in the IT field without a great deal of formal education, most occupations available to information security professionals require at least a bachelor's degree. Degree program in technology in Information systems security can provide a solid background in the fundamentals of the field while also helping to fulfill the minimum educational requirements for most employers.
Coursework in information systems security degree programs
Although the precise set of classes needed to earn an information systems security degree can vary from program to program, many of the discipline's core courses have fairly similar goals.
Here's a short list of the sort of topics that students in information systems security programs can expect to study:
- Critical disruption management
- Business continuity assurance
- Information security ethics
- Web-based application security
- Security compliance auditing
- Simulated attack testing
- Privacy standards and protocols
Information systems security degree programs come in many varieties, from an associate degree to a graduate certificate to a special concentration within a computer science bachelor's. Prospective students considering a degree in information systems security should check out some details on what's available and find the program that best suits their needs.
Career outlook for graduates with information systems security degrees
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for information security analysts are expected to increase by 37 percent in the years between 2012 and 2022, one of the fastest rates of growth among all occupations surveyed. Median annual wages for information security analysts were reported at $88,590 in 2013, with the top 10 percent of earners taking home more than $138,780.
Training from information systems security degree programs can also prepare students for related jobs in the field, particularly when combined with relevant job experience. One such position, computer network architect, was reported by the BLS as having a median salary of $95,380 in 2013. Network and computer systems administrators, who can also benefit from an information security background, reported a 2013 median annual salary figure of $74,000.
“15-1143 Computer Network Architects,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 22, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151143.htm
“Information Security Analysts : Occupational Outlook Handbook,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm
“15-1142 Network and Computer Systems Administrators,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 22, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151142.htm
“Fastest Growing Occupations: Occupational Outlook Handbook,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/fastest-growing.htm