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Security consultants future

© September 2005 Tony Lawrence

My nephew's son has just started college. He doesn't really know what he wants to do with his life. but does seem to have some interest in the computer field. His maternal grandfather has suggested that he learn about security and while I don't think that's bad advice, I don't agree that it's necessarily a ticket to a great career.

Right now, security consultants do very well, but that's not going to last. Not so many years ago, someone conversant with integrating TCP/IP, Appletalk and Token Ring networks was in high demand, and a certification in that area was worth quite a bit. Today, very few people use anything but TCP/IP and if they do have any mixed network needs, off the shelf hardware can handle it with very little expertise needed. The same thing will happen with security: routers and switches and the computers themselves will have everything they need built in, which means small need for high priced experts.

The computer field changes very rapidly. I think studying security is a great idea, but I wouldn't necessarily plan on that being a life time job plan.

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Thu Sep 22 14:59:15 2005: 1110   BigDumbDinosaur

The computer field changes very rapidly. I think studying security is a great idea, but I wouldn't necessarily plan on that being a life time job plan.

Put another way, there was a time when guys who could rebuild a steam locomotive were highly employable. Not any more!

Thu Sep 22 16:11:31 2005: 1113   rbailin


Could you please fix up (link)
to again allow & show comments? It's been broken for several days

Also, could you provide a link for website feedback/problems such
as this, perhaps at the bottom of each page, or on the contacts page?


Thu Sep 22 16:21:03 2005: 1114   TonyLawrence

Sorry Bob - I know it's broken )because of a change elsewhere) and just haven't had time to fix. Will try to get to it over the weekend.

Home page is ok for comments like this..

Fri Sep 30 02:25:12 2005: 1134   AndrewStott

Sorry, I have to take exception with some of your statements. While IT Security won't always be as "hot" as it is right now, it will likely continue to be a crucial part of the industry. As systems, applications, networks, and technology itself becomes more complex there will be an even stronger need for highly skilled security experts. This is because the attacks themselves become more complex to both identify and to defend against. Of course, since I'm a security professional you might assume that I'm biased...

In reference to your router/switch/computer comment, I don't know quite what you meant by "everything they need" will be "built-in." First of all, technology can go a long way towards helping to address security issues -- AV, firewalls, encryption, etc all help to make systems more secure. But an improperly configured piece of technology, or one that has flaws, can be counterproductive. After all, Security is a process, not a point solution. Worse comes to worse, if you're right and technology (and not people) is the answer in the end, someone still has to design the technology, right?

In regards to your analogies, to equate specific network protocols with a subject as varied as Security just isn't correct. It'd be much more accurate to equate Networking and Security, or Programming and Security. If you mean to say a networking expert skilled in a few specific technologies 10 years ago who didn't learn anything new over that period wouldn't be as useful today, you're of course correct since technologies and their implementations change. But the same would be true for a programmer or sysadmin from 1995. If instead they were to rely on their foundations while adapting to their changing fields they would find much greater job security in the long run.

If you're nephew's son is considering focusing on a specific topic (such as Windows XP host security or PHP 5 secure coding best practices) and trying to build a career around it, he will unfortunately be out of a job in short order. If he studies Information Security and truly enjoys it, however, he will likely find a wealth of subjects he can pursue. Current examples that come to mind are Application Security, Compliance, Identity Management, and many others. While studying IT Security won't be a "ticket" to anything, if combined with other general Computer Science or technology curriculum, it will certainly provide a strong foundation that he can build upon later.

As with any technical field, it is crucial to grow and devlop throughout your career. This is especially true in the IT industry, and even more so in Security. Best of luck to your nephew's son.

(And BTW, looks like a great site.)

Thu Sep 29 19:28:57 2005: 1137   TonyLawrence

OK, if we're both still alive in 2o years, we'll see who was right?


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