By 2016, the worldwide data security market is expected to approach almost $90 billion in total value. This means that security is big business, and it should be. Data security has become increasingly critical as businesses utilize increasingly complex technology. Likewise, businesses that are directly involved in technology, such as Internet of Things and connected devices startups, cloud service providers, and even internet service providers, all have a vested interest in maintaining the security of their data.
Three Core Influencers on the Security Market
There are three core areas of influence that are driving the key players in data security consulting. Market influencers, according to Gartner Research, include BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), big data, and the security threats themselves.
BYOD is changing the way that SMBs and enterprise clients think about security. In the past, security solutions could be rolled out and controlled across a limited number of devices that were usually owned and maintained by employers. Today, it is more common for executives and staff at all levels to bring their own devices, which can then connect to company applications and networks. This creates the challenge of implementing robust security policies and technologies that can cover a range of devices and access methods.
Increased connectivity has led to increasing levels of "big data" in business. Considering all of the channels where data is collected, whether it be through software, customer interactions, or even data that comes from IoT connected devices, it is becoming critical that big data is not only collected, identified, and categorized, but that it is kept secure. Security in the future will be essential for protecting IP, trade sensitive information, and maintaining privacy.
Finally, the increasing number of security threats that are present, are reshaping the market, and will continue to do so in the future. In addition to the attacks and exploits that have been common in the past, data security consulting professionals now have new technologies where compromises must be patched and anticipated. IoT devices, SaaS solutions, and an increasingly widespread cloud adoption will be major factors that shape the needs of future data security.
Data Security Consulting: What is Hot?
Recent graduates, professionals looking for new opportunities, and even CIOs within existing organizations can anticipate the opportunities and needs, by identifying current roles and niches in the data security consulting market.
A data security role may be completely specialized, or in some cases, generalized and more leadership based, depending on the size of an organization.
Information security can be broken down into two main areas. These areas are hardware, and software. A data security consultant may be expected to have a wider understanding of their industry, but in reality they will only specialize in some key areas. This means that employers need to be specific about who they’re looking for and the technologies that they use. It also means that jobseekers need to be upfront about their expertise, or they may risk finding themselves in a position that is beyond their current skillset, which could lead to career impacting underperformance.
As a consultant, the role is to advise, develop, and implement change. This change is usually to address a problem that already exists. In the case of data security, this could mean that a security threat has already been identified, or it could be to mitigate possible threats with new technologies.
Consultants need superior application and network penetration skills. This means that they should be able to break down, and analyze the way that software works within any environment. This includes input and output channels. Networks need to be understood in the same way. The purpose of this knowledge, is to identify where risks exist, or where existing security breaches are occurring.
Software algorithms are known to provide false positives, so a consultant needs to be able to identify these, and should have skill in determining viable threats. This will help the consultant to allocate resources where they are most necessary, which can benefit their employer, financially.
Consultants should build an understanding of the technologies used by their employer. Whenever working on a contract, a consultant will deal with systems that they are unfamiliar with. Understanding the underlying technologies will be critical to implementing successful security solutions. This may require knowledge of cloud computing and infrastructure, IoT protocols and industry practices, or even specifics of networking or programming languages.
Successful consultants will be experts in risk management. This should not just include software and hardware, but also their employer’s strategy when it comes to risk management. Some companies are willing to accept higher levels of risk, while some have more stringent expectations. Understanding the culture of any particular company will be critical.
As Data Becomes More Important, Security Consulting Becomes a Necessity
It does not matter whether a business processes EPS payments, collects consumer information for a large retail operation, or even deals exclusively in cloud technology and the Internet of Things. The reality is that, as long as they are collecting and storing data, they will need dedicated security professionals.
Protecting that data for commercial and privacy reasons, will best be achieved with the right candidates, who have the skills and experience to deal with security threats in the modern business landscape.
I found a great resource for planning for and making decisions about information security at the Gartner Research Security and Risk Management page.