Computer systems security analysts develop and deploy barriers that stop
others from accessing sensitive information. That information could include
things like medical histories or credit card numbers.
These analysts also ensure that outside computer users do not interfere
with the delivery of goods and services through the Internet. And they protect
local networks from viruses.
So you can think of computer systems security analysts as defenders of
data and information. Who are their enemies? Crackers, of course.
Note that there is a difference between "hackers" and "crackers." Hackers
are ethical professionals who try to break into their clients' sites to find
the security holes. Crackers are just out to break into systems to cause havoc.
People often use the term "hacker" when they really mean "cracker."
"We will build better defenses, and they will try to find ways to get around
those defenses," says Dave Kennedy. He is the director of research services
for an Internet security company. "That is just the tension that has always
existed between defense and offense."
The number of private companies, organizations and government agencies
that do not employ or contract computer systems security analysts is getting
smaller each day.
Dean Pothorin heads and owns an Internet security company. He says computer
security is one of the fastest growing industries. "The Internet is going
to be a major piece of our lives and the environment in which we live," he
And organizations that do not employ computer security analysts take a
great risk, says Kennedy.
Physical requirements are minimal. This career is generally accessible
to people with physical disabilities, says Pothorin.
Working hours for computer systems security analysts can vary dramatically,
says Yiman Jiang. She is a computer security consultant.
"It depends on the client's needs," she says. "If it is a long-term project,
like 10 months or a year, the working hours are normal, more like a regular
job. But if a client really needs something completed by a certain time frame,
and if it is really tight, you could be looking at 12 to 14 hours a day."
Travel in this field is generally not common.