Demand for cyber-security professionals has been growing more than 3.5 times faster than that for other IT jobs since 2008 - making it one of the most in-demand sectors in the industry.
Global revenue for cyber security in Singapore is forecast to grow by as much as 157 per cent this year. Enterprises in Asia are expected to spend about US$230 billion (S$287 billion) to deal with security issues and data breaches.
Banking, telecom and other sectors are becoming increasingly dependent on IT, perpetuating the demand for cyber-security professionals.
ROLE OF CYBER SECURITY
Cyber security aims to prevent all malicious cyber incidents that affect critical and non-critical information infrastructure alike. Such incidents can include denial-of-service attacks, the distribution of spam and malware, phishing, pharming and other cyber crimes.
Cyber criminals can target financial institutions, businesses of all sizes, government agencies and military organisations across the globe. They can inflict significant damage through interruption of service, intellectual property theft, network viruses, data mining, spamming, financial theft and theft of sensitive customer data.
Singaporeans are already familiar with some of these threats, such as the defacing of public websites and disruption of online public services.
Therefore, the role and significance of the cybercop is extensive.
Cyber-security specialists identify, protect and resolve highly complex issues to keep information secure so that business can continue as normal.
They can keep cybercrime at bay by using analysis, forensics and reverse engineering
They then make recommendations for solutions, including hardware and software programs that can help mitigate risks. These professionals typically design firewalls, monitor use of data files, and regulate access to safeguard information and protect the network.
WHO WILL EMPLOY CYBERCOPS?
Job opportunities for cyber-security specialists can be found in both the public and private sectors.
Cyber-security specialists can work in various roles, be it as network security systems manager, network security administrator, network security engineer, Web security administrator and Web security auditor or application security tester, ethical hacker, information security analyst and database and software developer.
Cybercops work in almost any industry, such as banks, energy sectors, hotels, airlines, healthcare, telecom, infrastructure, transportation, law enforcement, defence, emergency response systems and IT companies.
Human resource firm Robert Half International's survey, released on June 3, showed that 42 per cent of financial services firms plan to hire permanent employees to manage cyber security in Singapore.
Cybercops are well paid. The average annual salary of a cyber-security expert in the United States is US$116,000, according to a survey of 500 cyber-security professionals in 43 states across 40 industries in the US (released on Oct 30 last year). Companies are willing to pay top dollar for cybercops because they need immediate accountability and productivity from them.
WHAT IT TAKES TO BE ONE
Being a cybercop usually requires a combination of up-to-date computer expertise, education and knowledge obtained on the job. Specific educational qualifications for cyber-security specialist jobs will vary according to the position and employer.
The typical educational profile of a cybercop is a bachelor's degree in computer science, mathematics or electrical engineering and/or a master's degree in IT.
Professional certifications, namely the Certified Information Systems Security Professional, Cisco Certified Network Professional Security and Certified Ethical Hacker, and Java programming are also popular credentials.
A good grasp of back-end enterprise resource planning software applications such as SAP and Oracle PeopleSoft will also be useful.
Familiarity with mobile apps to manage data from tablets and smartphones as well as cloud computing and various forms of data storage are also important as cybercops need to use them with the rising use of mobile devices and cloud computing.
Becoming a cyber-security professional is not for everyone. Besides a strong sense of integrity and the ability to work under pressure, you will first need to have the right professional competencies.
So choose degree courses from reputed and recognised universities or tertiary institutions that can equip you with the IT skills, management expertise and business know-how as well as inculcate the right ethical values.
If you have a love for technology, an analytical mind and passion to protect the world, pursuing a career in cyber security is both rewarding and fulfilling! A cyber-security professional is not just well-paid, but also well-respected.
The writer is the head of MDIS School of Technology & E-Learning