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Help Wanted: Businesses Seek Information Security Professionals

Enterprises worldwide need more 'infosec' professionals and are willing to pay high salaries for experienced talent, says new survey.
10 Companies Driving Mobile Security
10 Companies Driving Mobile Security
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It’s good times for information security professionals: In 2011, only 7% experienced unemployment, and 70% saw an increase in salary. In 2012, more than half expect to see their salary increase.

Those findings come from a new survey of 2,250 information security professionals in 87 countries, conducted by information security professional body (ISC)2. Interestingly, 96% of the respondents were employed at the time they took the survey.

In other words, despite the lagging economy, demand continues to be strong for information security professionals. "In spite of all the things that are going on that one would normally expect to have negative effects on job employment across the board, it really doesn't seem to be manifesting for security people," said Hord Tipton, executive director of (ISC)2, via phone. In 2011, notably, 72% of organizations said that they hired information security personnel, and 62% said they plan to hire more permanent or contract employees for that purpose this year.

According to Tipton, demand for information security professionals appears to be strong worldwide. "Looking across all sectors and all types--and this is not just a U.S. survey--there is consistency across the board in the findings. No one country stands out, so it's essentially a global situation," he said.

[ What's in store for mobile security? See Mobile Security's Future: 4 Expert Predictions. ]

One explanation for the apparent job security is the fact that the frequency and complexity of attacks against businesses and government agencies appears to be increasing. Notably, 56% of survey respondents said they'd seen their organization's security risks increase in 2011, for which one-third blamed on the profusion of mobile devices in the enterprise. As a result, 30% of surveyed organizations said they'll increase their security budgets in 2012.

When it comes to the discipline of information security, what's hot? For respondents who said they'll be hiring, the top skills they're seeking are a solid grasp of information security concepts (for 80%), technical skills (76%), and relevant experience (72%). Other top skills include operations security (55%), security management practices (52%), access control systems/methodology (51%), security architecture/models (50%), risk management (49%), telecom/network security (45%), applications/system development security (44%), and cloud/virtualization (35%).

At least half of hiring organizations appear to be seeking security generalists. "One of the things we see, particularly with the tightening economy, is that while it would be nice [for organizations] to have deep technical specialists in all facets of operations, that's just not realistic. Budgets do not allow that, and when you see the listing of skills they're looking for ... they're really looking for multi-focused people," said Tipton.

Regardless, information security appears to be a seller's market. Notably, while one-third of respondents said they'd changed jobs, half of them said they made the move because it offered better opportunities for advancement. On the flip side, half of organizations report that it's been "somewhat difficult" to find good-fit candidates for open security positions, while one-third said it's been "very difficult." Furthermore, hiring appears to often be a drawn-out process. One-third of organizations reported that it had taken between three and six months to fill an open security position, while 13% said it required more than six months.

There are no silver bullets when it comes to protecting company and customer data from loss or theft, but there are technological and procedural systems that will go a long way toward preventing a WikiLeaks-like data dump. Download our How To Prevent An Online Data Dump report. (Free registration required.)

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