By: Pradipto Chakrabarty, Regional Director, CompTIA, the voice of the world’s information technology industry
A lot has been said about the Narendra Modi government’s efforts to integrate information technology as an indispensable part of citizens’ lives. But IT brings with it, its own challenges. One of them is data security. In an increasingly digitized world, our vulnerability to the misuse of personal, professional, even national security data is a big issue.
While IT is playing a dominant role in the country’s economy, a key question being raised is: Is digital India prepared enough to combat the red eye of cyber security threat?
We have to admit that white-collar crime has evolved into a smarter avatar in the last 5 years or so. Even on the terrorism front, India is witnessing a moment of change from the operational perspective as the country’s confidential data faces challenges of vulnerability in the cyberspace from international cyber goons.
While the government’s recent demonetization move, brings with it a huge opportunity for digital commerce, it throws up new challenges. As India moves slowly towards the goal of a cashless economy, there is bound to be a large numbers of “first timers” whose lack of familiarity with technology, might result in security compromises and data leakages. We need to be equipped to handle the eventuality.
With the recent escalation of threats from neighbouring countries and incidents of ATM/debit card data breach, the Government is setting up a cyber security research and development fund of Rs 1,000 crore to be spend over the next five years. It will be administered by a Committee headed by the National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval.
Why it Matters
The Ponemon Institute, which conducts independent research on privacy, data protection and information security, recently reported that the average cost of global cyber breach has reached as much as $3.8 million. With reports of data breaches every other day, most of them leading to grave financial losses, it’s time to sit up and take note of the threat. People and organizations are nowadays becoming increasingly concerned about the rampant use of IT networks for spying, data leakage, or other similar threats, capable of putting their reputation at stake.
To combat this, there is today, a growing demand for trained IT security professionals. Data security is fast becoming a promising career option and training in this field is growing hugely in importance. Corporates as well as government organizations are now hiring data security experts for tasks such as fixing internal security loopholes, clinical investigation of computer frauds, outlining data security and networking fundamentals for organizations, remote firewall management and security auditing for standard management of IT systems.
Protecting computer networks from illegal attempts of accessing personal or business-related information on the internet requires a lot of expertise. Recently, two apex educational bodies—the University Grant Commission (UGC) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) have proposed that Indian universities and institutions introduce Cyber Information Security as a subject at undergraduate and post-graduate levels. Graduates with a degree in computer science or engineering may opt for full-time or short-term courses, degrees and diplomas in cyber information security and network administration. Many academic institutions, in the recent past, have based their IT courses on internationally-renowned certifications like CompTIA.
An international certification as a data security expert can do wonders for a career in this domain. Such certifications are much sought after, today. An IT certification in data security enhances skills of individuals willing to enter this field, or professionals looking for customized knowledge, and thus help create an employable workforce with industry-relevant skills.
CompTIA Security+ certification, for instance, is a vendor-neutral certification dealing with key data security concepts such as application, data and host security; threats and vulnerabilities, compliance, identity control and cryptography. This certification is widely acclaimed by hiring managers as a great certification for a newbie or someone having about a year’s experience in network technologies.
With the upcoming release of their Cyber security Analyst (CSA+) certification in 2017, CompTIA is looking forward to provide an advanced logical progression in career pathway of people who have already done the Security+ course. CompTIA also has CASP (CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner) for senior security practitioners responsible for enterprise security, research and analysis.
With cyber crime on the rise, the need for qualified professionals to protect data is on the rise. In fact, data security is one of the fastest growing specializations in IT. You have chances of growth opportunities after just a few years of experience. When it comes to remuneration, cyber security specialists make almost 10% more money than their IT peers, states a recent job intelligence report. However, salaries may vary according to individual skill sets, experience, and geographic location of the employer.
Cyber security experts may come from diverse set of backgrounds that don’t necessarily include IT. Working in data security requires an analytical mind to solve data loss issues and design methodologies for preventing breaches. As a professional in this field, your job duties will involve ensuring data encryption, monitoring access to data, disaster recovery of important data and maintaining consistency in data security. Besides these, your responsibilities will be also be to identify risk, participate in risk mitigation activities, provide infrastructure, application, information and operational security, apply security controls to maintain confidentiality, integrity and availability of data, troubleshoot security events and incidents and operate with an awareness of applicable policies, laws and regulations.
Opportunities & Prospects
Data security is among the most sought-after profession in the tech sector right now, outpacing demand for other IT-related jobs. CompTIA’s International Trends in Cyber Security research reveals that nearly 8 out of 10 managers responsible for network data protection expect data security to become a higher priority for their companies over the next few years. Persons interested in a career in this field may pursue their job profile as an ethical hacker, security administrator, cyber policy analyst, information security architect, data security analyst or specialist, information technology officer, or even cyber security consultant.
Besides, this Information security is a skill which is applicable in all segments of the industry. One can be an Information Security Specialist employed in an IT company, BFSI, retail, government and myriad of other industry segments. Since every organization today deals with electronic data, safety of the same becomes crucial and leads to a huge requirement of generic information and cyber security specialists.
The Road Ahead
According to a report compiled by Burning Glass technologies, postings for cyber security related jobs grew as much as 74% between 2007 and 2013 around the world. According to Forbes magazine, the cyber security job market is expected to grow to over $170 billion in the next 4 years. With netizens of world coming together as a result of digital convergence, we need more reliable communication and information security systems, almost everywhere. Today, there are international companies (like CompTIA) working overtime to eliminate the widening gap in the data security workforce.
Data security decisions can create sustainable impact on business operations. As a matter of fact, only companies with protected knowledge and resources can enhance their businesses efficiently. Training young professionals to work in this domain is the need of the hour and there are opportunities galore in this field. In fact, cyber security experts are today the new “super heroes” of most organizations.