The untrammelled rise of the cyber security professional
- 31 December, 2014 06:00
“It brings back memories of the industry in the late 1990s to early 2000s where everyone doing software was in demand,” says Ko, who heads the cyber security lab at the university and its masters in cyber security.
He believes this pace and demand for skilled cyber security professionals will not slow down soon, if ever.
“If you look around the world, a lot of things depend on computers and mobile devices. The devices will be connected and as a result there will be a lot of potential security loopholes,” he states.
He points out preparing for a career in cyber security can be done both by a university student or an IT professional looking to upskill.
“If you take it on as a student you will be able to address a gap and the job demand for cybersecurity professionals is three times more than a typical IT professional in the world,” he says. “This sort of translates to near zero unemployment rate for cyber security professionals.”
Demand for cyber security professionals is three times more than a typical IT professional.
So what makes a suitable background for the role? Ko suggests a strong interest in security in computers and a good understanding of networks operating systems and a natural interest with keeping up to date with things going on in the world are key.
“You need to know how to build a house before you know how to secure it,” he explains.
If you sign up for a cyber-security program, there should be three aspects: Technical, legal (you need to know about the laws of the country and international laws and policies that govern all these) and management of information.
“Not only that, you also need to have an open mind,” he says. “You have got to be quick thinking, know how to respond quickly to accidents that happen.
“You have to think out of the box so when everyone sees the thing in one way you probably have another way of solving the problem.”
A great sense of ethics is critical, he says. “This is a key principle. As security professionals, we are helping the law enforcement people, we are always faced with situations where we are protecting data.”
Ko also belongs to the group CROW for Cybersecurity Researchers of Waikato. Crows are known to be highly intelligent social birds that watch over each, the group notes on the website.
He says the group focuses on research addressing data security from a user-centric perspective. With the emergence of cloud computing technologies and prevalent mobile device usage, he says there is the diminishing effectiveness of traditional cyber security approaches such as perimeter defence, intrusion detection and infrastructure hardening.
“The goal is to create tools that will allow everyone to have capability to get back to business or address a security problem as easy as it is to send an SMS.”
Next: The modern CISO
A strategic role for the ‘guardians of information’
For Steve Wilson, vice president and principal analyst of Constellation Research, digitalisation presents the chief information security officer (CISO) – “the guardians of information” – to shift from a purely defensive position to one utilising organisational data as a competitive asset
Their training and skills can allow CISOs to play a more strategic executive role, writes Wilson in the report From Information Security to Digital Competitiveness.
The modern CISO should take charge of a broader version of the standard Information Asset Strategy, he advises.
What is it about your corporate information that gives you competitive advantage? And what exactly makes it valuable?
“The core strategic questions are these: What is it about your corporate information that gives you competitive advantage? And what exactly makes it valuable? The CISOs can take the lead in finding the answers and maintaining the information assets, along the way engaging executive peers in the analysis, and thereby assuming greater influence in the c-suite.”
Related: Fighting smart
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