These days, it’s not a matter of if a company will experience a cyber-attack, but when. Entire organizations are threatened by cyber-attacks, and that is why those who can prevent such attacks are in high demand. These threats are continuously evolving, and it is up to cyber security professionals to protect their companies and organizations from the bad actors behind them.
A cyber security auditor plays an essential role in organizational protection, making sure all computer systems and their security components remain secure. A large part of the job consists of constant interaction with all information technology departments within the organization to ensure security compliance and efficacy.
What Does a Security Auditor Do?
Those considering a career in the technology sector may want to explore cyber auditing as an option. If you like the idea of outwitting malefactors in cyberspace and preventing attacks and threats to privacy for users and companies alike, cyber auditing presents an excellent opportunity to do just that. In many ways, cyber security auditors are IT generalists, as they must know a great deal about various aspects of technology.
These IT specialists design and manage audits for their companies or organizations. An audit means that the professional goes through every aspect of the system and/or network and every possible access point to uncover any hidden vulnerabilities. After audit completion, the cyber auditor interprets the results, a thorough, detailed process. When the audit is presented to management, the cyber audit shows the current strengths and weaknesses of the system. Recommended system upgrades should include a cost/benefit analysis.
What are Their Responsibilities, Common Duties, and Tasks?
For a cyber security auditor, the bottom line is protecting their organization from cyber threats, whether by cyber-terrorists or just plain old hackers.
The common responsibilities, duties, and tasks of a cyber security auditor to that end may include:
- Determining IT risk exposure
- Assess possible attackers, including criminals, competitors, and even disgruntled employees
- Reviewing, evaluating, and testing application controls
- Testing and identifying network and system vulnerabilities
- Conducting effective IT audits
- Interpreting audit data
- Researching and implementing the latest security best practices
- Providing recommendations for dealing with any identified security risks
- Completing management reports regarding the state of the organization’s security system
- Creating a multi-pronged cyber security audit plan
How to Become a Security Auditor
Becoming a security auditor requires obtaining at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. However, it is possible to begin performing cyber auditing with a degree in finance or accounting, as long as the candidate has the requisite strong IT skills and certifications.
After graduating, expect to work in the IT field for at least five years before advancing into cyber security auditing. Along with work experience, gaining the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA’s) Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification is invaluable to move forward in a cyber auditing role. While other certifications are available and useful, CISA is considered the gold standard.
Other high level certifications include:
- Cyber Security Forensic Analysis Certification (CSFA)
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- Certified ISO/IEC 27001 Lead Auditor
- Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
Typical Requirements for Hiring
Entry-level jobs in the cyber security field include system, network, and security administrators. After working in one of these positions for a few years, an individual may move up to a mid-level position, which includes security specialist, security engineer, and security auditor.
Senior positions in cyber auditing include senior security auditor, lead cyber security tester, and senior cyber security analyst. Those cyber auditors who wish to enter the management field might become security or IT project managers, security directors, or Chief Information Security Officers (CISO) if they earn a master’s and have plenty of experience in the field. The actual title for such IT positions may vary by organization. For these senior positions, a master’s degree in IT auditing, cyber security, or an equivalent degree, may be required. The good news is that many companies will pay tuition for employees seeking this advanced degree while they are employed there.
Keep in mind that regular travel is required for many cyber security auditor positions. For some candidates this is not an issue but for others, the need for frequent travel may prove detrimental and force them to consider some other type of IT career.
While cyber security auditors require strong technical skills, quite a few softer skills are also a necessity in this field.
- Ability to work under pressure, in a fast-paced environment
- Strong attention to detail
- Ability to work both independently and as a team player
- Good oral and written communication skills
- Strong ethical code
- Analytical mind
Cyber security auditor jobs pay well. The average salary for a cyber security auditor is $86,000, but that number can range from approximately $71,000 per year for a quality assurance auditor, to $120,000 annually for an IT security specialist. Jobs in major cities will pay higher salaries than those outside of large metropolitan areas. For example, Indeed.com lists IT security specialist jobs in the New York City area paying almost $125,000 annually.
Other factors relating to salary include experience level, certifications achieved, educational degrees, and the type of industry in which the cyber security auditor is employed.
Outlook & Jobs
Unless cyber-hackers decide to pursue another area of employment, job growth in the cyber security auditing and related fields should remain strong. Technology is entering more and more facets of everyday life and its pervasiveness, as well as the growth in the Internet of Things (IoT) creates more and more points of entry for hackers and other bad actors. Unless human nature changes, an unlikely prospect, companies will require more cyber security auditors and those with similar backgrounds to protect their data.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 28% increase in demand for cyber security positions by 2026. There is currently a shortage of approximately 2 million cyber security specialists/experts, making this an ideal field for anyone seeking interesting and critical work in the ongoing battle between hackers and data privacy.
Government agencies; non-profit organizations; and large, mid-size, and small companies will all require cyber security auditors on a regular basis.
Cyber security auditing is a relatively new field, and as it evolves you can expect more specialization. High-paying, fairly recent specializations in cyber auditing include cloud security specialists and architects, along with positions such as vendor risk management directors and business process reengineering security consultants. Average salaries for these jobs are exceed $100,000, and some, such as cloud security architects, may pay $180,000 per year or more.