Information Assurance Remains Hot

New threats, opportunities make Information Assurance careers grow

Wide-ranging government initiatives, rising private sector concern and a renewed focus on workforce development among data security professionals is making information assurance a career field in high demand. A new study by the security Web site in partnership with Regis University and McAfee, the security software company, found corporate security officers listed cybersecurity, risk management and proper electronic forensics as the top security-related issues faced in 2010.

To combat these challenges, corporate leaders are committed to investing in ongoing training, education and workforce development to improve the skills of their information assurance employees. In fact, 79% of respondents said their companies plan to reimburse workers for ongoing education and training related to data security, and 43% specifically identified academic institutions as their training centers of choice.

When asked how much education is needed to effectively enter the information security workforce, 23% of those polled said a master's degree is now the minimum requirement. With such high quality candidates produced by graduate programs in information assurance, nearly half of the security professionals surveyed (46%) said their companies recruit for leadership positions outside the organization while only 34% search within.

The rising profile of information assurance professionals in the private sector is mirrored by a major shift in priority toward cybersecurity in government. One of President Obama's first acts after taking office in 2009 was to identify cybersecurity as a serious economic and national security challenge. He quickly commissioned a Cyberspace Policy Review and selected an Executive Branch Cybersecurity Coordinator, or "cyber czar," to implement its recommendations.

High on the list of priorities espoused by the Cyberspace Policy Review is the expansion of cyber education, with emphasis on cybersecurity and information assurance. The review specifically stated that while billions of dollars are being spent on new technologies to secure the U.S. government in cyberspace, it is essential to have the people with the right knowledge, skills and abilities to implement those technologies. The review also admits there are not enough cybersecurity experts in the federal government or the private sector to fully implement its recommendations, a powerful affirmation for those seeking a career in information assurance.

Sources: survey: "Information Security Today Career Trends."

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