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Boom times ahead for IT security profession

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Boom times are ahead for security pros. The information security workforce will expand by an estimated 13.7 per cent annually to reach 2.1m workers by 2008. Approximately 680,000 of this expanded workforce will work in Europe.

The (ISC)2 2004 Global Information Security Workforce Study found the wider use of internet technologies, a dynamic threat environment and increasingly stringent government regulations are driving the growth of the profession. The 1.3m information security professionals currently employed will see their ranks swell by more than 60 per cent within five years, according to IDC, which conducted the study on behalf of security certification body (ISC)2.

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IDC analysed responses from 5,371 full-time information security professionals in 80 countries worldwide, with nearly half employed by organisations with $1bn or more in annual revenue. The web-based study is described as the first major study of the global information security profession ever undertaken.

On average survey respondents had 13 years work experience in IT and seven years specialised security experience. This wealth of skill is often well rewarded. Around 10 per cent of the survey participants in both the US earned more than $125,000 per annum; 22 per cent of US residents who took part in the survey earned between $100,000-$120,000 a year (Europe 16 per cent). At the other end of the scale, five per cent of security pros in the states and nine per cent in Europe earn less than $50,000. In Asia, 60 per cent of security professionals earn less than $50,000.

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Managers hiring security professionals (93 per cent) said certification was important in choosing potential recruits; but commercial awareness is also becoming increasingly important.

"The study shows a shift in the information security profession, indicating that business acumen is now often required along with technology proficiency," said Allan Carey, the IDC analyst who led the study. "This widening responsibility means information security professionals not only have to receive a constant refresh of the best security knowledge but also must acquire a solid understanding of business processes and risk management to be successful in their roles."

"With competing demands on industry and government to expand access to services and information, the highly trained and experienced information security professional must now be an active participant to fulfil stringent regulatory requirements and provide proactive solutions to circumvent emerging risks," he added. ®

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