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Today's top skill sets in security -- and why they're in demand

Bob Violino | June 19, 2014
The old adage that the only thing that's constant is change certainly applies to the world of information security. Whether it's the ever-shifting threat scenarios or the technologies designed to thwart them, new developments seem to be happening all the time.

The old adage that the only thing that's constant is change certainly applies to the world of information security. Whether it's the ever-shifting threat scenarios or the technologies designed to thwart them, new developments seem to be happening all the time.

Because of the dynamic nature of the security discipline, the skills organizations and their security programs need are also continually changing.

We checked in with a number of security executives, industry analysts and recruitment specialists to find out what they see as the most in-demand skills today and in the coming months. Here are some areas they noted.

Mobile security

Whether it's through bring-your-own-device (BYOD) or company-provisioned products, businesses are increasingly relying on mobile workforces. Mobile computing and communications have introduced new vulnerabilities and threats, and finding people with the know-how to address these will become increasingly important.

 "The higher you go up the mobility stack — network up to operating system and finally up to application security — the harder the security skills and technologies are to understand," says Tyler Shields, senior analyst at Forrester Research Inc.

"The lower layers of the stack are a bit more commoditized and have tools that can help automate some of the security controls and auditing," Shields says. "Application security flaws are generally one-off type flaws that require significant reverse engineering and coding skills to successfully discover and exploit. In general the application security arena is one of the most difficult to find subject matter experts. Mobile security is also in short supply due to the young age of the technology."

Data analytics

Big data and data science skills such as advanced analytics are in demand in a number of specialty areas, and security is not exception. People who can make sense of security-related data that's being gathered from multiple sources will likely be in demand for some time.

"We look beyond traditional IT and security skills. For example, it's really important to have a good view on data analytics and privacy," says Siobhan MacDermott, Utilidata's CISO at Utilidata, a company that provides software specifically for the utilities industry.

It's even better if people have analytics skills focused on a specific sector. "As cyber security and privacy converge, it's important to ensure that we're staying on top of trends in our industry," MacDermott says. "Being in the utility space, we have developments that are heading our way in smart grids, for example, and we're looking to hire people today for a future skill set."

While data analytics for security is not new, it's getting increasingly more important, says James Yang, director of disaster recovery and IT risk management at Cummins Inc., a provider of engines and related technologies.

 

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