How to Become a Security Auditor
When you study to become a security auditor, you will learn the skills to work as a professional who assesses the computer security systems of a corporation to ensure that they are secure from cyber criminals. Security auditors routinely produce detailed reports that discuss a system’s effectiveness and suggest improvements.
Security auditors carry a great load of responsibility on their shoulders. They need to ensure that a company or governmental agency is safe from criminal and terrorist behaviors. Since most businesses and agencies keep the lion’s share of their records in digital databases, these must be appropriately protected with firewalls, encryption and other security measures.These databases need to be tested periodically to ensure that they comply with the latest IT standards and practices.
The security auditor must then design and manage an audit for the organization. Depending on the size of the organization, audits might be rolled out at the department level, but some companies are small enough where the entire system can be audited at once. This determination must be made by the auditor, who can assess the overall structure of the organization’s systems.
Once the audit has been completed, the auditor needs to be able to interpret the resulting data. This is a highly detailed and analytical process that asks the professional to sort through endless reports with a fine-toothed comb. If, for instance, a security breach is suspected, he or she will need to scrutinize the logs to see if, when, or where an SQL database was breached or otherwise compromised. Then, the problem and its solution must be assessed and detailed.
The audit is finally complete once a report is written and presented for a company’s management team. In the presentation the auditor will demonstrate where the system is working well and where it can be improved. The report will detail best practices for IT professionals and other staff members. If the report suggests upgrades, it is part of their job to provide a cost-benefit analysis to demonstrate the value of the upgrade. For instance, assigning more manpower to bolstering security codes will pay off by assuring that business operations can continue safely and without costly interruptions.
Security Auditor vs. Penetration Tester
While there is a significant overlap between the duties of a security auditor and a penetration tester, the two positions are actually quite different. A security auditor seeks to assess a computer system based on established standards and will make recommendations to help the system become compliant. This assessment covers all aspects of a company’s IT structure.
When a penetration test is performed, the tester takes the role of a malicious hacker and attempts to hack into the system from outside. His or her job will be to find and exploit vulnerabilities. From that point, they will provide a report to the management that will show their assessment and recommendations for added security.
The auditor is primarily concerned with standards that may be out of date and well-known to criminal hackers.
Both positions need to be highly prioritized in a corporate structure, as they both seek to improve the overall integrity and health of the business. However, both have limits in terms of scope. The auditor is primarily concerned with standards that may be out of date and well-known to criminal hackers. However, they do analyze an entire system and can find internal conflicts in a system that may result in more common, but often costly, glitches and systemic difficulties.
The penetration tester’s scope concerns the external firewall or other security measures. Though highly valuable, their report will primarily concern just one part of a company’s overall IT picture. Further, a typical penetration test does not often take into account errors that might occur on a daily basis, such as faulty programming or other human errors. A security auditor can spot these problems and implement a policy of best practices for the organization.
Possible Career Paths
The path of a security auditor has three basic tiers: entry level, IT security specialist and managerial. The following graphic outlines these levels and potential job titles for you to pursue:
If you desire to move into security auditing, there are a number of titles that require virtually the same background as this role. When you apply for these jobs, make sure that their descriptions match what you are looking for and what you are qualified to do. Furthermore, make sure that if you land the position that it will propel your career forward. Some similar titles include the following:
The work of security auditing comes under the rubric of many different job titles, but a survey of salaries in the field matches with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics median salary for an information security analysts, who earn a median annual salary of $88,890. The BLS job growth projections for the field are likewise positive, as they expect the field to expand by a healthy 18 percent through 2024.
To become a cyber security auditor, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree, preferably in information technology, computer science or an applicable technical field. Then you will likely need at least 5 years of experience in an IT department. You will always benefit from additional certificates, whether earned through a university or corporate training.
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