Careers: Security A Bright Spot

With spending increasing at nearly one-third of companies surveyed, the need for information security experts is bound to grow

Tech industry experts have predicted over the past 18 months that information security initiatives, led by the federal government, will be a major part of the next tech employment surge. The surge, experts say, will be caused by dramatic increases in security spending to curb vulnerabilities against viruses, information theft and other forms of “cyber terrorism.”

Even so, techies continue to lose their jobs, and total employment numbers don’t look pretty. Despite what appears to be a slow creation of new jobs, a significant number of IT employers increased their spending on information security in 2002.

Among 476 tech professionals recently surveyed by, 32 percent say their employer increased spending on IT security last year. The survey, completed in May, ran the gamut from computer operators to IT vice presidents. Full-time, part-time, unemployed and self-employed tech professionals responded to a variety of questions on information security.

Although just 5 percent of techies mention a spending increase of 50 percent or more, only 7 percent claim a decrease over the past year; 32 percent say they aren’t familiar with their respective company’s technology purchases.

The survey asked:

Did your employer increase or decrease spending on Information Security in 2002? (Self-employed, answer as if you're the employer.)

Decreased spending by 0% to 49%: 4%
Decreased spending by 50% or more: 3%
Don't know: 32%
Increased spending by 50% or more: 5%
Increased spending by 0% to 49%: 27%
Unemployed/Not applicable: 29%
Total: 100%

When only including the 71 percent of survey respondents who are employed, employers with a spending increase jumps to 45 percent. No significant spending differences were found by a company's size.

Of all the security initiatives undertaken by IT employers in 2002, installation of an improved anti-virus protection system was the most common. About 43 percent of techies say their employer addressed financially and strategically its virus vulnerabilities. On a related note, 37 percent of IT pros’ companies spent money to improve its firewall(s).

With the rising popularity of telecommuting, its no surprise a significant number of employers upgraded their VPN and remote user access. But an impressive 24 percent of tech pros surveyed say their employer tackled the often-major task of improving its network architecture. (Currently unemployed techies surveyed answered for their most recent employer if employed during 2002.)

We asked:

What kinds of information security initiatives did your employer undertake in 2002? (Check all that apply.)

Installed improved anti-virus protection: 43%
Improved/installed firewall protection: 37%
Improved network architecture: 24%
None/Not applicable: 23%
Don't know: 22%
Made VPN for employees more secure: 22%
Intrustion detection improvements: 21%
Installed more password-protected areas: 18%
Reduced remote-user access: 13%
Added more preventative content on Web site: 10%
Required user registration to view Web pages: 9%
Other: 4%

About the Author

Nick Doty is editorial director of, an online career and training center for technology professionals based in Minneapolis.