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Skills required in IT security 'are changing'
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IT has taken on a much more prominent role in business in recent years, changing the way businesses and organisations operate for good. The mainstream adoption of game-changing new technologies such as cloud computing and virtualisation has led to a significant shift in the way firms approach IT. The department has moved from the background to the centre of business operations, and is of fundamental importance to strategic growth plans.
The changing role of IT is also having a significant bearing on the professionals employed to manage and maintain technology systems. Facing a broader range of challenges in the workplace, technology professionals are required to have wider skill sets which extend beyond their traditional competencies. Being able to operate computer systems is no longer enough; IT professionals are increasingly required to be generalists who offer value in the boardroom rather than just the server room.
Case study: IT security
With companies storing more data online, and the rise in mobile working jeopardising some companies' network security processes, IT security professionals are becoming increasingly important in business. Their role has evolved beyond guarding systems with firewalls and anti-virus software, and monitoring interent usage. They need to play a key role in instigating cultural change across organisations to account for the heightened risks in today's web-based economy.
In a recent interview with Information Security Media Group, Gartner vice-president and analyst Tom Scholtz explained how the required skills for IT security professionals are shifting. He said that technology, infrastructure and policy management expertise is no longer enough for those seeking the top jobs. "Increasingly, there are competencies starting to cluster around the ability to interact with the business more effectively," Mr Scholtz added.
The analyst said 21st century IT security professionals must understand business terminology, be able to communicate effectively with the business, link security technology projects to actual business initiatives and maintain line of sight between security projects and actual business requirements. "It really comes around trying to maintain the link of what security does within the context of business requirements and business needs in a way that the business can actually relate to and understand," he added.
Maintaining IT security spend
Mr Scholtz said that in difficult economic times, pressures on IT security budgets may continue to increase. But given the importance of this area, it is vital that companies do not cut corners and employ staff without the required skills and expertise. "Security has never really been seen as a value activity," he told the news provider. "What we're trying to do is to prevent bad things from happening. We don't really support business objectives in a positive way."
This is why it is important that executives understand the value offered by security professionals, in terms of safeguarding systems and data, and protecting business reputations. A single data breach can have severe repercussions for businesses and organisations, not merely through fines imposed by the Information Commissioner's Office but also in terms of reputational damage. Companies which suffer an IT security breach may attract negative press, which can quickly lead to customer attrition and the loss of revenue.
Posted by John Lynes
Ashdown Group IT Recruitment Agency - 12.5% Fee / 3 Month, 100% Rebate - Transparent Recruitment Fees Since 1999.
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