In Brief

Security hiring growth slow but steady; end-users blame ISPs and product vendors for spam

Security Hiring Grows

Driven by regulations and a rebounding economy, firms are hiring more IT employees, including security personnel.

Research firm IDC, according to the Wall Street Journal, recently predicted the number of full-time information security professionals would grow from 1.2 million in 2003 to 2.1 million in 2008. That’s an annual growth rate of 13.7 percent, compared to only 5 to 8 percent for other IT jobs.

According to other research—a survey by Robert Half Technology—overall IT staff hiring will increase this quarter, the fifth quarter in a row CIOs have identified “expansion” as their principle driver for hiring, with new full-time hiring remaining slow but steady.

The survey, conducted with 1,400 CIOs from companies with over 100 employees, says 15 percent of CIOs at large firms (those with over 1,000 employees) expect to hire more staffers this quarter, while 4 percent will reduce head count. The majority of firms expecting to hire new IT personnel have over 1,000 employees.

When hiring new employees, organizations expect about 13 percent of those new hires to fill information security positions, second only to networking—the goal for 20 percent of hires.

Microsoft Windows administration skill is the most sought-after IT job proficiency, with 46 percent of firms saying they’re hiring for it, Robert Half Technology reports. “Checkpoint firewall administration and wireless network management are also hot specialties, each receiving 15 percent of the response.”

Compliance concerns, especially around Sarbanes-Oxley, are also driving hiring. “Corporations are actively recruiting individuals with network security expertise who can help them comply with new internal control requirements,” says Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology.

Geographically speaking, CIOs in these states expect the strongest increase in hiring: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. The industries expecting to hire the greatest number of new IT employees are retail, business services, and finance, with insurance and real estate industries following.

Drivers aside, overall, “companies continue to take a slow and steady approach to hiring,” notes Lee. “Firms are adding full-time employees only when there is a vital need.”

As the environment improves, she forecasts businesses will also spend more time trying to retain existing staff. “Technology professionals who were afraid to risk changing jobs in an uncertain economy may be more open to new opportunities as conditions improve.”

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Unsolicited E-mail Continues to Take its Toll on End Users

According to a January 2005 survey of 241 adult Internet users by Osterman Research Inc., thanks to spyware, spam, and similar attacks and nuisances, almost half of home computer users don’t e-mail or surf the Web as much as they did just one year ago. Yet users still look to their e-mail to accomplish many business-related tasks, from buying travel, to real estate, to insurance.

In other words, for conducting business, it’s getting more difficult for users to rely on e-mail, given the volume of spam they have to endure. Conversely, many businesses rely upon low-cost e-mail for sales and customer service.

Users also say they know the source of the problem. Over 80 percent of e-mail users blame both the vendors of the products touted in spam as well as their Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Only 26 percent of e-mail users say ISPs have effectively mitigated spam.

“By contrast, e-mail users believe that they have been effective at maintaining their own antivirus, anti-spyware, and firewall defenses on their home computers,” says Osterman.

About the Author

Mathew Schwartz is a Contributing Editor for Enterprise Systems and is its Security Strategies column, as well as being a long-time contributor to the company's print publications. Mr. Schwartz is also a security and technology freelance writer.