Security Engineer Job Description
Security engineers maintain the security of IT systems to prevent data breaches, keeping information safe from hackers, viruses, and other potential problems. Security engineers often work on-site at companies with information to protect, usually during daytime hours on a full-time basis. In the event of a serious data breach, some night and weekend hours may be required. Security engineers generally work with little to no supervision and are employed by large security firms that are hired by companies with sensitive data to protect.
Security Engineer Duties and Responsibilities
Security engineers work with highly complex systems and sensitive information on a daily basis. In this position, you will be regularly required to work on the following:
Write Security Plans
Security engineers may need to write brand-new security software in order to protect networks from potential breaches and keep systems safe.
Create and Implement Firewalls
Security engineers design new firewalls, putting them into place in networks and making sure they are functioning properly to stop threats before they get to the system.
Analyze and Investigate Breaches
In the event of security breaches, security engineers analyze data logs and perform risk assessments to find out which parts of the system have been compromised and where the danger lies. This may require a forensic investigation to isolate problems and put a stop to them.
Attempt to Penetrate Systems
In order to ensure the integrity of network systems, security engineers actively try to breach data and hack secure systems to probe for weaknesses. If they are successful, they will know where the potential vulnerabilities are.
Test New Software and Hardware
Testing and retesting systems is ongoing; technology changes quickly and new viruses and penetration methods are constantly being developed, requiring systems to be routinely tested to make sure they’re up-to-date and secure against possible dangers.
Security Engineer Skills and Qualifications
Security engineers are often the first and last line of defense for complicated IT systems. Security firms look for security engineers who have experience in the following:
- Familiarity with multiple operating systems – security engineers must know how to work with all the major operating systems, including Linux, in order to create software for multiple types of IT networks
- Knowledge of database platforms – security engineers need to know MySQL/MSSQL database platforms
- Problem-solving – to find potential security hazards and protect the system
- Data analysis – to look through extensive data logs and computer code to isolate security issues
- Creativity – though security engineers work with mathematical formulas and highly technical systems, creative skills are needed to write new software programs to protect systems
Security Engineer Tools of the Trade
Security engineers routinely work with several types of software, such as:
- Encryption technologies (VPNs, VLANs, VoIP, etc.)
- Malware (viruses, phishing threats, etc.)
- Security software (firewalls, anti-virus)
Security Engineer Education and Training
Security engineers need a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, computer science, or a similar discipline. In addition to the degree, most security firms require certification in several types of programming language and computer skills, including CISA, CISM, CISSP, RHCE, CCNP security, GSEC, and CEH.
Because technology is always changing and reinventing itself, ongoing education is essential. As new programs and protocols are invented, security engineers will need to become certified in these emerging technologies as well.
Security Engineer Salary and Outlook
Security engineers make an average salary of $70,000 to $93,000 annually. The median wage for this career path is $87,828. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job growth for security analysts and related fields is 28 percent through 2026, much faster than the national average.
Security engineers also receive full health, dental, and vision insurance benefits. Some companies may also offer profit-sharing and stock option incentives to employees. Because ongoing certification and education are often required, many employers also provide education reimbursement to their security engineers.
Security Engineer Helpful Resources
Stay in the know and up to speed on security technologies with the following useful tools:
Information Systems Security Association International – This non-profit, international organization provides forums for knowledge sharing, as well as news and information about the latest developments in technology and cybersecurity systems of all types.
Violent Python: A Cookbook for Hackers, Forensic Analysts, Penetration Testers and Security Engineers – This useful guidebook tells how to create security software using Python, a widely-used programming language that can be applied to a vast number of IT networks.
Center for Internet Security – Use this website for the latest news on data protection and to get tips on cyber safety online, including information about recent developments in IT security.
Cisco Networks: Engineers’ Handbook of Routing, Switching, and Security with IOS, NX-OS, and ASA – This book covers everything you need to know about Cisco-based networks, including every aspect of ASA, IOS, and NX-OS software.
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