Information & Communication Technology
IT Security Specialist
IT security specialists combine their computer science background with forensic skills to recover data from computers and storage devices.
What does an IT Security Specialist do?
IT security specialists combine their computer science background with forensic skills to recover data from computers and storage devices. They assist companies, government bodies and law enforcement officers with investigating cyber crime by retrieving evidence from computers and digital devices. They may also be known as other titles such as forensic computer investigator or analyst, or cyber security investigator.
As an IT security specialist, you would:
- secure the IT system or digital hardware you were going to examine
- find and recover data and images that may have been hidden, encrypted, altered or damaged
- examine mobile phone records to track the position or location of devices
- establish links between individuals or groups by examining electronic data trails
- carefully document and present your findings
- act as a technical or expert witness in court cases
- hacking, online scams and fraud
- political, industrial and commercial espionage
- terrorist communications
- possession of illegal pornography
- theft of sensitive company information by employees
- non-compliance with regulation, for eg. insider trading.
You could work for the police, federal government or security services, a financial services institution, or for a firm that specialises in computer security. You might also work as a consultant with your own client base of organisations. You might deal with issues such as the theft of confidential corporate information, the possession of illegal material, online scams or insider trading.
Key skills and interests
To become an IT security specialist, you would need:
- a creative approach to solving problems
- attention to detail
- excellent IT skills
- the ability to analyse and see patterns in large amounts of data
- a well organised and methodical approach to work
- up-to-date knowledge of information security standards and legislation
- the ability to keep confidentiality.
Working hours and conditions
You would generally work standard office hours, but depending on the type of investigation you were involved with, you may have to work overtime or flexible hours.
You would work in an office, alongside other professionals, and may have to travel to also attend meetings. You may also have to go to court to give evidence.
If you are self-employed, you may be able to work from home.
How to become an IT Security Specialist?
Entry Level Education
IT security specialists would usually have a bachelor's degree in computer science, with coursework in forensics and operating system forensics, hacking, computer and network security, law and procedure. Courses in these areas are also offered at Master’s degree level, after the completion of a more general bachelor's degree. To get into bachelor's degree courses, you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent. English, maths and IT subjects would be appropriate to study prior to university.
Employment opportunities for It security specialists are expected to be above average.
The increasing use of computers means an increasing need for more specialists with the knowledge and know-how to handle cyber crime and investigate non-compliance with corporate and government laws and regulations.