Lacking creativity but loaded with technical intelligence? Network security is a great career to try out in the IT industry.
This field involves securing the information uploaded by various institutions online using authentication processes, firewalls and encryption so that the attacks of potential viruses and hackers can be curtailed. Network security is gaining prominence as greater reliance is placed on the internet. In all spheres of life there is always some level of computer dependency and with the rise of harmful viruses and spiteful hackers, it is necessary to maintain utmost security.
This field demands a great deal of technological insight as network police have to keep themselves updated with all the latest forms of viruses so that they can formulate accurate and effective defense mechanisms. As a network security analyst, you will be expected to create the entire defensive framework of various websites and online data bases using all your computing knowledge.
The first step in network security is authentication and this is achieved in two main levels:
- One Factor Authentication - This involves the use of a username and password to distinguish between visitors and protect the site from unauthorized users. This is a popular form of authentication which you must undoubtedly be familiar with.
- Two Factor Authentication - For this you require a security token like an ATM card or a mobile phone to further support your entry. Network security analysts are thus expected to provide the framework that allows this process to further strengthen the security of the site.
Security analysts must also make use of firewalls which ensure that each user is able to see only the data he is authorized to see. This provides additional security to the information on the site. However, firewalls do not give adequate protection against worms or Trojan viruses and so anti-virus software is needed to protect against attacks. Security analysts will also be expected to create anomaly-based intrusion detection systems which will be able to notify the administrator in the event of suspicious behavior to further protect the information. Encryption must also be used to ensure conversations between users remain private and to avoid information loss.
Essentially, a good network security analyst makes use of a wide variety of security measures to protect data. However, this is not a one-time job; security analysts have to constantly monitor the security of their sites and take immediate action whenever the security is compromised. By analyzing previous attacks, they can formulate advanced security frameworks that can effectively deal with future attacks.
This is definitely a crucial occupation within the IT industry that facilitates the basic success of all other sectors. Without a security analyst, private information could be leaked or stolen and the internet would no longer be the useful platform that it is. That being said, there are difficulties as the blame for a compromised web site ultimately falls on the head of the security analyst who has created the defense framework.
As a career, network security is perfect for individuals who are extremely familiar with protocols like transmission control protocol, and internet protocol (TCP/IP). TCP and IP are the basic means for communication between computers and thus to create a security system, one must appreciate them. By fully understanding these protocols one will be able to detect any irregularities on sites and thus fix them efficiently.
Thus there is a heavy workload upon a network security analyst but it is definitely a rewarding career that will expand your technological skills.
The Inside Scoop
Here is a look at the concepts a future network security analyst must know:
- Understanding of Basic Protocols - As mentioned before, protocols are the foundation of relations in the online world and hence to be a good network security analyst you will have to be extremely comfortable in understanding these protocols.
- Understanding of Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) - IDS are present in all secure websites and so a good security analyst will have experience in checking the packets logged in by the IDS to monitor site activity and avoid hackers and viruses. More often than not the IDS will log false attacks but you will never know if they really are false unless you check them. For this you need to be well-versed in the understanding of IDS.
- Firewalls and Routers - Firewalls ensure that data is not easily available to everyone and routers manage traffic. The two are extremely important for the successful working of any website and so a security analyst must be able to use them efficiently to provide the highest degree of protection. This involves a great deal of practical application as the settings have to be tweaked to suit the particular site. Setting up routers is a somewhat confusing process but as a security analyst you will be expected to be able to do this with ease.
- Reading of Code and Programming - By being knowledgeable in programming and in reading code you will be able to analyze intrusion attempts better.
- Ethical Hacking - A security analyst can also use hacking skills to identify weak areas in a site and thus tweak the security framework. This process is extremely effective as it allows you to detect weaknesses before they are found and misused by spiteful hackers.
Besides the knowledge of these concepts, you should also have the following attributes:
- Patience - Network security demands continuous attention and you will have to check through numerous security reports as well as monitor the daily functioning of the site under your authority and this demands a great deal of patience.
- Adaptability - The sites you work on will all have different security demands. For instance, a government site will need extremely strong protection while a site advertising a product will need a bare minimum. You should be familiar with all levels of network security.
- Quick Thinking - You need to be able to solve problems as fast as possible as delays can lead to detrimental losses of important information which must be avoided at all costs. Any threat to the system must be instantaneously detected and deflected.
You don't need a cape or a superpower to save the world anymore! Instead, you can just become a network security analyst and prevent the 'bad guys' of the world from getting their hands on valuable information, even if it is just product details or opinions on the latest Apple product! Being a security analyst gives you a great deal of power as you alone are responsible for protecting the integrity of important information; this is a great title to have!
Being a part of the network police is a really cool job to talk about as your role is similar to that of a policeman, only better! You can work from the comfort of your home while still doing the world a great service by protecting its vital information!
Plus, the other guys at your workplace will undoubtedly treat you like a God as you alone hold in your hands the power to protect their information! There is thus no greater status than that of a network security analyst!
As a security analyst you will always be in demand and that kind of attention can only do wonders for your ego! Yes, you don't need a fancy car to have all eyes on you, you can just hold the key to the defense framework of some of the world's most important websites and your life will be made!
Hurdles and Challenges
The demands that are placed upon a network security analyst are enormous. You will be assaulted by numerous security violations and glitches that you alone will have to sort out every so often. And if anything goes wrong, you alone will be blamed for everything and you will have to fix each problem and account for data loss.
Moreover, the industry is cruel when it comes to working hours and your constant attention is required to maintain the security of the sites under your control. This is no nine-to-five job, it's a twenty four-hour commitment to protecting information and you will often have to update the security framework you spend weeks creating to keep up with the changing threats.
Fruits of Labor
The average salary paid to network security analysts is around $73,000 per year. As with all other professions in the IT industry, the number increases with experience and so perseverance in the field can get you a salary between $80,000 and $90,000.
The firm you work for also determines the salary: while government jobs pay around $78,000 a year, senior analysts in corporate firms can earn up to $97,000.
Studies have shown that the salaries in this field are increasing as time goes by and so this is a promising and rewarding career to look into.
Naturally this career comes with several perks which make it a good field to go into. Your services can be looked upon as a great contribution to the overall security of the online world and you will have considerable access to information that many would kill to know! Moreover, your value will never be doubted so if you're good at what you do, things can only get better!
By working a network security you are also setting yourself up for an extremely steady career as there is sure to be a continuous demand for security analysts as the world makes increasing use of the internet. As time goes by, there will only be a proliferation of spiteful hackers and your existence is thus essential to the survival of the world!
Becoming a security analyst is a fulfilling career choice that is sure to keep you on your toes and to broaden your knowledge of the technological world. If you work well, you stand to gain immensely.
Practice, practice and more practice should be the dictum you live by! You can't expect to be paid millions the minute you enter the industry so it's worth spending time learning the ropes of coding, programming and intrusion detection so that you can advance through all the low-paying levels and get into the real money-making position!
Experience increases your pay check and so you should spend a great deal of time learning security techniques and making yourself aware of all the latest security threats. Take control of several small-scale websites at first to get a feel of what is expected and then progress to more complex ones so that you are well-versed in what you will need to do once you get employed.
Look for degrees that offer practical exposure as well as regular lectures so that you get a chance to practice what you learn. Certification is essential in this career as it demands many skills which are difficult to acquire on your own. Moreover, firms prefer well-qualified employees and degrees will open up your mind and allow you to best appreciate threats and formulate effective ways to combat them.
You can take up a Masters degree in security information or do courses in security management which are readily available at most well-known universities.
You could also check out the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium which provides the following qualifications: Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certification and Accreditation Professional (CAP) and Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP). These certifications are recognized worldwide for providing a comprehensive learning experience that will be extremely valuable for a future career in the field of network security.
Another important association to take note of is the Information Systems Audit and Control Association which also provides good courses to take.
At the Job
While working you should make yourself familiar with the numerous sites online and try to analyze the security systems they have used. Practice makes perfect so make sure you really get involved and contribute greatly to whatever assignment you have been given.
This isn't a career where you can sit back and relax once you've done your work; by constantly checking the sites under your control you will be able to keep yourself updated on any new threats and by designing protection to keep up with changing threats you will evolve as a security analyst and become better at what you do.
Network policing is a vital feature of the internet that prevents untoward incidents. It is thus a promising career choice for those with technological acumen and dedication to the cause of preventing information loss. Understandably, this is no easy job: it demands a great deal of concentration and focus and you have to be able to change rapidly to meet the new demands. Each day brings forth new threats that need to be dealt with and thus network security is a crucial department in all firms that have online websites. Thus, finding a job in this field is no problem if you are good at what you do and maintain an undying interest in learning the tricks of the trade.