Careers in Computer and Internet Security
NOV 03, 2017 14:13 PM
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Careers in Computer and Internet Security

by Lori Cameron
In the October 2017 issue of ComputingEdge, we asked Kate Netkachova and Robin Bloomfield about career opportunities in computer and Internet security. Netkachova is a product manager for security and dependability vendor Adelard and is also a researcher at City, University of London. Bloomfield is Adelard’s founding partner and a professor of system and software dependability at the Centre for Software Reliability at City, University of London. Netkachova and Bloomfield, who responded jointly to our interview questions, coauthored the article “Security-Informed Safety” from Computer’s June 2016 issue.
ComputingEdge: What computer and Internet security careers will see the most growth in the next several years?
Netkachova and Bloomfield: We work in the area of critical engineered systems. In our field there is a growing realization that cybersecurity is closely connected to and can have a great impact on other vital system properties such as safety, reliability, dependability, and resilience. In the next several years, we will see increased demand for security engineers in areas such as transport, healthcare, power grids, critical infrastructures, smart cities, and nuclear power.
ComputingEdge: What would you tell college students to give them an advantage over the competition?
Netkachova and Bloomfield: Our main advice would be not to think of security as just a technical issue. Security isn’t all about encryption, firewall configuration, and other technical matters. You should always think more broadly and combine technical depth with a sociotechnical view, analyzing human aspects within the system, interdependencies, security culture, and current practices. Getting a computer science degree, keeping current on the best practices and standards, reading research papers on system engineering as well as IEEE Security & Privacy would help you develop this broader outlook. Seeing the big picture and understanding how technical knowledge fits in the wider context would provide a clear competitive advantage.
ComputingEdge: What should applicants keep in mind when applying for jobs related to computer and Internet security?
Netkachova and Bloomfield: The nature of security jobs varies significantly. When applying for a job, you should always consider the security environment and think about its impact. Some places require security classifications. You might not be allowed to talk about your job or share your experiences with others, which can make you feel lonely. This can affect your life choices and your ability to travel, and reduce your flexibility in changing jobs.
ComputingEdge: What are some critical mistakes young graduates should avoid when starting their careers?
Netkachova and Bloomfield: Young graduates should avoid assuming they’re too inexperienced to challenge a company’s status quo. They shouldn’t hesitate to use their knowledge in practice, be security-minded themselves, and gently challenge others’ insecure behaviors.
ComputingEdge: Please share something that could benefit those starting out in their careers.
Netkachova and Bloomfield: Security jobs can be very challenging, requiring a wealth of knowledge, skills, and ability to make decisions under risky and uncertain circumstances. When starting out in your security career, your responsibilities might make you feel anxious and overwhelmed. However, security is a shared responsibility, and the company will always provide the support and help you need to succeed. Therefore, security can be a very rewarding job in a strongly supportive environment in which you can increase your knowledge and skills quickly.
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