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Life is increasingly moving into the digital realm – from social media, to cashless transactions, and more besides, much of our most sensitive information is now being held electronically. A change welcomed by many, this technologically advanced era promises many obvious benefits and opportunities; but it also brings with it a great deal of risk.

With the genuine threats posed by identity theft, hackers, phishing, pharming, Trojan horses, and more, security is paramount. Parties at risk are not limited to those individuals who fail to maintain their firewall subscription, but include organisations and governments globally. As the gatekeepers protecting our internet traffic from modern day highwaymen, IT Security Managers are finding their roles growing in importance, and their responsibilities increasing in number.

IT Security Manager: Gatekeeper

An IT Security team may be one of the most important parts of a company; their purpose is to ensure the protection of the IT systems used by an organisation from harmful threats. They find weaknesses which may allow sensitive data to be stolen. In short, the responsibilities of an IT Security Manager are to prevent the theft or loss of data.

Individual positions may differ in their exact responsibilities, however typical duties will range from monitoring threats and generating reports for senior staff, to ensuring company employees use strong passwords. Among other things, you will need to be familiar with the EU’s GDPR requirements. One of the most important duties is the design and development of the security software, which will require technical knowledge. 

It will also be of critical importance to regularly update and maintain the security measures being used, conducting regular inspections of both the various components and overall strategy being implemented. This, perhaps more than any other, is an ever-changing environment; as the methods of data encryption develop and improve, so too do the criminal elements attempting to bypass them.

Further to creating and implementing security solutions, duties would also include those typical of other managerial positions, such as training staff, and implementing policies. In this particular role of a manager, you may take more of a back seat. However you will be responsible for the overall direction of your company’s security procedures, and should be well-versed in security measures. The best way to do this is with a suitable IT degree.

Pass-grade protected: skills and qualifications

Twinned with the continued rise of technology is the growing threat of cybercrime; today, ever more qualifications are being created around the subject of security, and the protection of data. There are a multitude of certifications and short courses available, however you will be expected to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a directly relevant subject such as cyber security, or a related computing subject. You may choose to specialise further, with a Master’s course such as MSc IT Security Management or supplement your knowledge with training.

To achieve a management position, you would need sufficient work experience in a computing role, and many employers will want to see specific security related experience; this will usually be a minimum of 2 years. To succeed in this position, you will need strong, strategic planning, effective communication skills, and overall technical competency. Of course, it cannot be stated enough that this field is one that adapts and evolves almost daily.

Therefore, those wishing to pursue security careers, or any computer/information systems jobs at all, should stay ahead of the curve with regular refresher training.

Aside from up to date industry knowledge, strong technical ability, and other relevant hard skills, someone suited to this position should have adequate soft skills: in data-sensitive positions such as this, the quality of trustworthiness is of great value.

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