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5/13/2010
04:01 PM
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6 Hot And Sought-After IT Security Skills

What companies and government agencies are really looking for in today's IT security professional

1. Incident-handling/response.

If the revelation of the Google/"Operation Aurora" attacks have taught us anything, it's that no organization is immune to targeted, persistent attacks that easily fly under the radar and don't come to light until it's too late.

These attacks also have drawn government and private industry closer together, and the job markets are becoming more intertwined as the two sectors look for similar skill sets, says Evan Lesser, co-founder and director of ClearanceJobs.com, a site that matches U.S. job seekers with security clearances and government contractors and agencies. "The government is looking toward industry, and industry is looking toward government," Lesser says. "They are working hand-in-hand [more now] because an attack on a commercial financial system is an attack on the country, as with any infrastructure-related [attack]."

And that has made incident response an important job skill that many employers are seeking -- professionals who don't just know how to use or configure an IDS or firewall, for instance, but who also know how to maintain and analyze log files and other incident data and then can share it among others in the company.

"The incident responders and handlers are the guys on the front lines," Cisco's Bump says. "And their attention to detail is heightened...there should be a lot of documentation and sharing with other groups investigating [a breach]."

Security certifications are evolving that reflect this shift. "In the past when you were certified on a product, you knew how to use the IDS/IPS," for example. "We're moving more from certification on products to certification on job roles."

That entails expertise in how to use the information gathered by security devices and systems, security experts say. "Now it's a lot of architecture [knowledge], solutions, and best practices," Bump says. "They also need security architects who deploy the solutions, design them, and look at the policies."

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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