In Summary - IT Security Specialist
IT Security Specialists typically work in the following Career Sectors:
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The Work - IT Security Specialist
IT Security is fast becoming one of the most important roles in the tech sector as cybercriminals and hackers become more and more sophisticated.
Any computer connected to the Internet is vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Cyber security is the technique used to protect computers and networks from these types of intrusions and from criminal attack.
Specialists in cybersecurity are among the most sought-after professionals in the tech sector, as business and governments seek to fight off an increasingly daring and ruthless group of global cybercriminals and hackers. With some of the world’s biggest firms and banks as well as governments under constant fire of threats, skilled, clever and dedicated security specialists work in a field that demands a mix of artistry and technical expertise. They need to be one step ahead of the hackers and organised criminals at all times.
Alternative job titles for this role include:
- Cybersecurity specialist
- Network security specialist
- Information security specialist
- Cybersecurity software engineers
- Implements security protocol at the development stages of software systems, networks and data centres
- Looks for vulnerabilities and risks in hardware and software
- Finds the best way to secure the IT infrastructure of an organisation
- Builds firewalls into network infrastructures
- Constantly monitors for attacks and intrusion
- When the cybersecurity specialist finds a potential threat or attempted breach, close off the security vulnerability
- Identifies the perpetrator and liaises with the police if necessary
There is strong demand for skilled, qualified IT security specialists both in Ireland and around the world as the threat from cybercriminals and hackers grows. There is great potential for career progression, especially in larger organisations and financial service providers. There is also scope for experienced security professionals to set up their own business as consultants.
Why it matters
Months after American hackers demonstrated how easily they could disable an electric car while it was in motion, carmakers are under growing pressure to do something about the threat. U.S. senators are asking carmakers to provide updates on what they were doing to protect motorists from unwanted intrusions. The Canadian military are now looking for car hackers to study “the security of automotive vehicles, including understanding their vulnerabilities and assessing the potential mitigation measures”. Similarly, Tesla and General Motors are hiring security researchers to help them secure their vehicles before release.
Typical employers of IT Security Specialists include:
- Network providers
- Schools and universities
- Any large organisation with a database
- Security consultancy firms
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Encrypt data transmissions and erect firewalls to conceal confidential information as it is being transmitted and to keep out tainted digital transfers.
- Develop plans to safeguard computer files against accidental or unauthorized modification, destruction, or disclosure and to meet emergency data processing needs.
- Review violations of computer security procedures and discuss procedures with violators to ensure violations are not repeated.
- Monitor use of data files and regulate access to safeguard information in computer files.
- Monitor current reports of computer viruses to determine when to update virus protection systems.
- Modify computer security files to incorporate new software, correct errors, or change individual access status.
- Perform risk assessments and execute tests of data processing system to ensure functioning of data processing activities and security measures.
- Confer with users to discuss issues such as computer data access needs, security violations, and programming changes.
- Train users and promote security awareness to ensure system security and to improve server and network efficiency.
- Coordinate implementation of computer system plan with establishment personnel and outside vendors.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Interests - IT Security Specialist
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their most productive under supervisors who give clear guidelines and while performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.
They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
Skills and qualities required for this role include:
- Strong IT skills and knowledge including hardware, software and networks
- Attention to detail
- Ability to use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of IT systems
- A forensic approach to challenges
- A deep understanding on how hackers work and ability to keep up with the fast pace of change in the criminal cyber-underworld
- Ability to seek out vulnerabilities in IT infrastructures
Entry Requirements - IT Security Specialist
Most positions in cyber security require at least a bachelors degree. Employers are seeking to hire employees with proficiency in:
- Network Security
- Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)
- System and Network Configuration
Relevant qualifications for a career in this area include Degrees in:
- IT security
- Computer programming
- Computer science
- Information science
- Computer engineering
- Software engineering.
All are common gateways to a career in IT Security. Alternative routes may apply to students with related courses, general computing certification or diploma level qualifications. Courses in Computer Forensics and Security, or Digital Forensics and Cyber Security can also be found at at the Institutes of Technology countrywide.
Further details on eligibility requirements for third level entry following FET /QQI qualification, see CAO course search.
Last Updated: November, 2015
Pay & Salary - IT Security Specialist
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 32k - 75k
Typical salary range is:
Smart Futures / Payscale.com
Last Updated: March, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
Labour Market Updates - IT Security Specialist
Employment growth in this occupation is in line with the national average. Demand relates primarily to those with a third level qualification, with experience a key contributory factor in emerging shortages.
National Skills Bulletin 2018
Useful Contacts - IT Security Specialist
Irish Software Association
ICS - The Society for Chartered IT Professionals in Ireland
Irish Internet Association