Information security, known as InfoSec, covers the practices, systems, and processes you’ll use to protect data and mitigate information risks and vulnerabilities. Information security is essential because it helps to ensure your data's confidentiality, integrity, and availability.
The rise of InfoSec has occurred due to increasing security breaches, greater levels of data collection, and global threats. The development of new technologies has also pushed InfoSec to the forefront. As digital technology becomes more advanced, the potential threats and the need for improved prevention strategies grow.
Information security professionals seek to protect data from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction. It is the practice of protecting information using frameworks, protocols, controls, and information security standards. The ongoing process management also addresses security vulnerabilities on a regular schedule (usually weekly or monthly). ISO27001 is the international standard for information security.
As an information security professional, you’ll establish organizational systems and processes that protect information from threats from inside and outside your organization. The field of information security is concerned with all aspects of protecting information in any form, including physical and digital files, databases, applications, websites, and data on laptops, tablets, desktops, and smartphones. This includes data in these states:
At rest: Data not currently being used or accessed, such as data stored on a hard drive or server.
In transit: Data in the transmission process from one location to another. This could be over a network or the internet.
In use: Data being accessed or used by an individual or system.
InfoSec and cybersecurity are related, focusing on security and technology. However, InfoSec focuses on information security. It centers interventions around the data. Cybersecurity focuses on cyber threats and is more about scanning systems and ensuring robust technology security. Cybersecurity is a subset of InfoSec.
Read more: How to Become an Information Security Analyst: Salary, Skills, and More
Implementing robust information security practices can make it more difficult for unauthorized users to access and misuse data. Here are some reasons InfoSec is so essential.
You must protect sensitive information to comply with specific standards, regulations, and laws (ISO27701).
Information security threats are everywhere, are increasingly advanced, and can come from many sources.
Data breaches can mean financial loss, damage repair, and costs to your company's reputation.
Your company faces numerous information and data threats every day. Having Infosec policies and procedures to mitigate them is vital, and you do routine risk assessments. Many motivations could cause an organization or individual to gain unauthorized access to data. They may be looking to exploit vulnerabilities for financial gain, cause harm or disruption, or steal sensitive information. Here are some security threats every InfoSec professional needs to understand.
Intellectual property theft is the unauthorized use or reproduction of your copyrighted material, trade secrets, or other proprietary information. This can happen through cybercrime, espionage, or simply your employees taking advantage of their access to company information.
Malware attacks are a type of attack that targets vulnerabilities in your software to gain access to systems or data. Some common software attacks include SQL injection, buffer overflow, denial of service (DoS), and cross-site scripting.
Identity theft is where personally identifiable information is accessed and used to commit fraud or other crimes. This happens when someone steals physical identity documents, such as a driver's license or passport, or obtains personal information online through phishing or other methods. If your company holds personal information, you must protect it.
Social engineering is deception and manipulation to convince you or someone else to divulge confidential information or perform specific actions. People in your company may receive contact over the phone, through email scams, or in person. The goal of social engineering is typically to gain access to your systems or data, but it may be to extort your company.
Many companies are affected by the theft of physical equipment, such as computers or servers, or digital information, such as confidential files or customer data. Your company might be targeted for financial gain, for the antagonists to gain a competitive advantage, or to cause harm to your organization.
Sabotage is any deliberate action to damage or destroy your equipment, systems, data, or facilities. People inside or connected with your company may have malicious intent, or outside attackers may gain access to your organization's systems.
Different types of InfoSec exist, and you can specialize in various security aspects. Here are some of the main categories you'll come across as you research InfoSec and look at jobs.
Application security encompasses hardware, software, and procedural methods to safeguard applications against external threats. These include code signing and verifying, input validation, high-level authentication, code improvement, and software monitoring.
Cloud security protects data and resources stored in or accessed through a cloud computing environment. Cloud security includes measures to prevent, detect, and respond to attacks on cloud resources. You’ll protect data confidentiality, integrity, availability, and compliance in your cloud environments.
Cryptography is secure communication in a situation where third parties could intercept your data. You may use cryptographic mathematical algorithms to encode and decode data. You’ll do this to protect information from unauthorized access and ensure that data remains unchanged during transmission.
Infrastructure security protects a computer system's physical and logical components. Infrastructure security protects your non-computing physical infrastructures, such as buildings, telecommunications networks, and power grids, from damage or destruction.
Incident response is identifying, containing, eradicating, and recovering from a security incident. Incident response includes incident handling, forensics, and business continuity planning. In this role, you’ll work to prevent incidents from happening in the first place and also respond if an incident does occur.
Vulnerability management identifies, understands, and mitigates vulnerabilities in systems and processes. Vulnerability management includes vulnerability assessment, vulnerability mitigation, and threat modeling.
A career in information security is exciting and varied, with many specializations. Technical roles may involve working with security technologies to protect networks and systems, while non-technical roles may focus on developing policies and procedures or conducting risk assessments. Analytical and critical thinking skills are essential in all aspects of the field, as they are needed to identify potential threats and vulnerabilities and to develop effective mitigation strategies.
InfoSec is a vast and ever-growing field with many different career paths you can choose. As you gain InfoSec experience, you may diversify into new areas and move into consulting. Information security career paths are many and varied.
Engineering and architecture: Information security engineers are responsible for designing, building, and maintaining secure systems. As a security engineer, you’ll work closely with other experts to ensure security is built into the design from the ground up.
Incident response: When a security incident occurs, it is your job as part of the incident response team to contain and resolve the issue as quickly as possible. This may involve working with law enforcement or other external partners.
Management and administration: Information security managers and administrators are responsible for developing and implementing policies and procedures to protect data and systems. In this type of role, you’ll oversee and facilitate the work of the InfoSec staff and coordinate responses to incidents.
Consulting: As an information security consultant, you help organizations assess their risks and develop mitigation plans. You may also provide expert advice during an incident investigation.
Testing and hacking: Security testers use various tools and techniques to identify system vulnerabilities. As a penetration tester, for example, you’ll identify and exploit security weaknesses and work with developers to minimize vulnerable access points before attackers can exploit them.
Read more: 5 Cybersecurity Career Paths (and How to Get Started)
The job outlook for InfoSec professionals is positive, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting a 35 percent growth in information security analyst jobs between 2021 and 2031 .
This growth is partly fueled by internet-connected devices (known as the "Internet of Things"), which create more opportunities for cyberattacks and the need to protect ever-growing amounts of data. In addition, businesses are becoming more aware of cybersecurity's importance, leading to increased demand for InfoSec professionals.
Here are some job titles with corresponding annual salaries in the InfoSec sector:
Information security analyst: $83,218 
Information security engineer: $98,779 
Information security manager: $119,970 
Information security officer: $102,612 
Security architect: $126,697 
Security consultant: $76,130 
Security administrator: $60,856 
Network security specialist: $81,110 
Cybersecurity engineer: $91,795 
Penetration tester: $90,661 
Digital forensic examiner: $79,054 
The best way to get a job in InfoSec depends on the specific required qualifications and experience for the job role that interests you. Research the types of jobs in the information security field and identify careers that align with your interests. Take note of the job application criteria to build your resume qualifications and competencies to align with the roles.
To work in InfoSec, many companies require a degree in computer science or a related field. However, some companies may accept relevant certifications in place of a degree. The most common degrees for InfoSec workers are computer science, systems engineering, and IT.
Read more: Cybersecurity Degrees and Alternatives: Your 2023 Guide
Many jobs can lead to InfoSec and cybersecurity roles. These positions often provide on-the-job training that can give you the skills you need to move into InfoSec eventually. Some examples with annual salaries include:
Help desk technician - $43,960 
Systems administrator - $74,736 
Network administrator - $63,555 
Computer support specialist -$49,351 
Business analyst - $76,248 
These roles typically require an undergraduate degree in computer science or a related field.
Read more: What Can You Do with a Computer Science Degree? 10 In-Demand Fields
While there isn't a specific set of skills to work in InfoSec, you need to develop a portfolio of skills that match the jobs that interest you. Here are some core skills that many of the jobs in InfoSec require:
Understanding networking and common protocols
Familiarity with various operating systems
Strong analytical and problem-solving abilities
Strong communication skills
Attention to detail
A logical approach
Additionally, since the field of InfoSec is constantly changing, it is essential to adapt and learn new things quickly.
Various certifications can help you to build your information security career. Some standard certificates to consider include the following:
• The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
• Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
• CompTIA Security+
These certifications can help you to specialize in a particular area of information security and make your resume more attractive to employers.
Read more: 10 Popular Cybersecurity Certifications [2023 Updated]
In today's InfoSec job market, employers are increasingly looking for candidates with specialized knowledge and skills in information security. By enhancing your skill set this way, you'll be able to show potential employers that you're serious about pursuing a career in InfoSec and that you have taken proactive steps to develop yourself. Consider the IT Security: Defense against the digital dark arts course Google offers on Coursera.
This course covers a wide variety of IT security concepts, tools, and best practices. It introduces threats and attacks and the many ways they can show up. ...
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