How will IT security jobs change in the next decade?

Technology is developing at a fast pace, and IT security jobs will need to adapt to these changes. Microsoft, in its Cyberspace 2025 report, has made predictions on how communications technology will change in the next 10 years and how security experts will be needed to protect technology. If all or most of their predictions are accurate, then this will affect the nature of IT security jobs.

Microsoft predicts that by the year 2025 there will be over 4.7 billion people online, 80% of whom will connect via a mobile device. This growth will drive demand for science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates, but developing countries may not have enough graduates which could create a severe competition for talented technologists and IT security staff, particularly in developing countries.

Developing nations will grow their IT systems to deal with increased demand for basic services and infrastructure. All these systems will need cyber security personnel, but many developing countries will not have enough graduates to fill the jobs. Students graduating this year with IT degrees in the United Kingdom will probably have no problem obtaining IT security jobs in the UK, but they could soon be attracted by high salaries in developing countries.

A global view

The rapid expansion of technology will be a worldwide phenomenon. Cybersecurity policies will need to be developed at national and international levels. Faced with an increasing threat of cybercrime, there will be the need to share information, and law enforcement cooperation. Cyber criminals do not recognise borders, so future IT security jobs will involve looking beyond the isolated interests of just one company or one country. IT security workers will need to think globally.

Countries that try to control the free flow of digital information while at the same time not tackling piracy and copyright issues could find themselves isolated. Private sector companies may be unwilling to introduce technologies into these countries because they fear that their products may be copied.

Isolated countries and those that have overtly prescriptive cybersecurity policies that do not respond to changes in how technology is used will not attract innovative IT security personnel. Cyber threats could come from these countries if they cannot attract high calibre IT security talent to prevent cybercrime.

Microsoft recommends that all countries commit themselves to a free and open internet where privacy is protected. They also want all country’s policymakers to foster co-ordinated projects designed to create advanced cyber security risk management systems.

They further urge countries to develop harmonious laws and standards that apply to cyber security.

Barriers need to be removed

Microsoft urges all countries to foster IT talent, but to develop the educational institutions and infrastructure to support this takes time. Microsoft urges governments to recruit IT personnel from other countries until they have enough native talent. This will require removing immigration regulation barriers, so workplaces need to be flexible to attract, then retain, talent.

Paul Nicholas, the Senior Director of Microsoft Global Security Strategy and Diplomacy, said:

“Perhaps one of the most striking policies affecting ICT growth would not necessarily be considered a ‘tech’ policy. Developed countries will continue to attract talent for ICT jobs in the short term, but inflexible immigration policies and mounting debt may inhibit long-term competition for talent.

Conversely, the growth in STEM-educated talent in emerging economies may not translate into innovation and growth in the short term, but over the long term emerging economies will win in talent retention.”

Microsoft thinks globally and sees IT security as a requiring a global effort. This means that people recruited for IT security jobs in a company could find that their part of their role will be to coordinate their efforts with cyber security personnel all over the world. Incidents of security breaches may be routinely shared across the world. New development in cyber security systems could be open sourced, allowing all interested people to have access to them.

Complex threats

The threats facing business are more complex than they were a few years ago. Many more devices are connected to a company network. For example, company vehicles often communicate with a network. If vehicles are stolen, then there is the added risk that thieves could gain access to the company’s network and steal data via onboard communication devices. As more devices become connected, IT security workers will need to protect all of a company’s devices.

As networks become more complex, risk management is increasingly important with more security efforts given to financial data and customer information rather than less sensitive data such as marketing information and customer support records.

The individual

Most current IT security jobs are based in companies and organisations, but a future role could be focused on individuals.

There are lots of apps that collect personal data, and this has led to concerns about privacy. Agencies have been formed to let people view their credit profile. In the future, firms could allow people access to the other personal information that companies gather from apps and websites. This requires changes in privacy laws to force app-makers to divulge this information. A new IT security sector could be created of people that can uncover the information that organisations have about a person.

Individuals are targeted by social media and email scams, so IT security consultants could be hired by individuals who have been the victims of cybercrime. If a house is burgled, often an alarm company is contacted to provide technology that will stop further break-ins. In a similar way, victims of cyber criminals will hire IT security consultants to recommend and install software systems to prevent future attacks.

It is difficult to predict with certainty how technology will change the world and how this will affect the role of the IT security job. One forecast that is generally agreed upon is that cybercrimes will increase as the use of technology does. This means that for the foreseeable future, there will be a high demand for skilled IT security experts.

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