Why Equifax Data Breach Must Put Cybersecurity on Your Career Radar Screen
Holy credit reporting!
By now you’ve probably heard that the personal information of up to 143 million consumers was hacked when Equifax, one of the world’s largest credit reporting agencies, fell victim to a data breach. That personal information included Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, license plate numbers, credit card numbers and more.
Although the attacks at Yahoo! in recent years were much larger in scale with 1 billion consumers affected, the kind of personal information made vulnerable in the attack on Equifax makes this data breach much more frightening—at least in the eyes of the consumers (who are also concerned that the company waited six weeks before revealing the attack).
However, it’s not just consumers who are falling victim to hackers at an increasing rate. Everyone is vulnerable, from consumers to corporations—even governments the world over. And that means plentiful opportunities for those considering cybersecurity careers.
The Latest Victim in Recent Months
If you think these kinds of attacks like we just witnessed with Equifax are on the rise, you’re right. Last year in 2016 alone, over 2.2 billion records were exposed in 3,000 data breaches. So far in 2017, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Arby’s, Chipotle and even Gmail have fallen victim to data breaches, to name only a few. Within only the last few months, we’ve seen the WannaCry ransomware attack in May and the GoldenEye attack in June.
As the latest in a long line of victims, the Equifax data breach is particularly frightening not only because of the scope of the types of information stolen, but also, it serves as an example of what can happen when hackers target an organization. And when businesses are targeted, most won’t be ready to defend themselves. More than half of businesses recently surveyed in the U.S., U.K., and Germany are unprepared for a cyber attack, according to the Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report.
Why Aren’t Companies Proactive in Protection?
With these kinds of attacks on the rise, why are companies lagging in preparedness? Why are these attacks becoming commonplace? Especially when the costs are so high. Not only do companies suffer financially due to falling share prices, bad publicity and lack of consumer confidence, in addition to losing their data or having to pay to recover it. They face the cost of recovery too, as well as revenue lost as a result of the disruption—a recovery that can take weeks or even months. Then there are the fines and lawsuits that also add up. It’s estimated that data breaches cost U.S. companies an average of $7 million, and this is a cost that businesses will keep on paying because attacks will keep happening.
What is a business to do? Experts say that data breaches and cyber attacks will only increase in frequency in the future, and therefore cybersecurity must become a part of the way companies do business in order to be in some way protected.
This is sound advice, but there is one glitch: A business can’t make cybersecurity a priority without employees trained for the role, and we have a huge shortage of qualified candidates. Perhaps this employee shortage is one reason companies lag behind in protecting their data and infrastructures?
You’ll Find Plenty of Job Openings in Cybersecurity
The jobs are there, and like the attacks—are increasing in numbers. According to data on the cybersecurity skills gap compiled by ISACA, the number of available cybersecurity jobs is growing three times faster than other tech jobs and we will see a global shortage of two million cybersecurity professionals by 2019. In part, this is because many who apply for the jobs lack the training for the job. Data shows that 84 percent of organizations think that only half or even fewer of the applicants are actually qualified, and it’s taking up to six months for an organization to find the right candidate to hire.
Those candidates have plenty of jobs to choose from. According to an article at Forbes.com, the U.S. alone has 40,000 unfilled jobs for information security analysts, with an additional 200,000 unfilled cybersecurity related jobs. And unfilled jobs mean unprotected assets, as well as plenty of career potential for anyone seeking to move into or advance in an information security career.
In addition, these jobs pay well. People working in cybersecurity make an average salary of $116,000, which is almost three times the national median income for full-time wage and salary workers.
How to Make the Move Into a Career in Cybersecurity?
If you’re interested in being one of the qualified candidates for these high-paying jobs, you can start with online training as a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA). This course will teach you the necessary skillsets you’ll need to govern and control the information technology for a business, as well as how to perform an effective security audit on any organization. As part of your certification, you’ll gain expertise in the acquisition, development, testing, and implementation of information systems, plus learn the guidelines, standards and best practices of protecting them. The certification is usually aligned with ISACA standards.
After completing the course, you’ll be able to perform key cybersecurity duties, such as:
- Identifying and assessing vulnerabilities.
- Reporting on compliance and institutional controls.
- Applying cybersecurity audit and assurance guidelines, standards and best practices.
- Governing and controlling enterprise information technology environments.
- Understanding the acquisition, development, testing and implementation of information systems
Training the Employees You Already Have
If you’re a department manager or an HR professional with no desire to hire a team that is certified in information security, consider the CISA certification for training the employees you already have to become the cybersecurity staff you need. Someone who is already strong in IT skills can be certified as Information Systems Auditor, and help to guide your organization toward strong information security and better defenses against almost inevitable attacks.
Cyber attacks will continue. Cybersecurity professionals are needed to defend against them, and companies are willing to pay generous salaries to those qualified candidates who can help. Is it time for your move into this growing field? To learn more about this certification as a step toward a career in cybersecurity, visit the Simplilearn website or go directly to the CISA certification training page.
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