Job security is literally taking on a new meaning. Domestic security concerns, tied so closely into the nation's reliance on telecom and computers, has opened up tremendous job opportunities for EEs and computer scientists who can design and implement security systems. Sujeet Shenoi, a professor of computer science and a leader of a National Science Foundation-sponsored program to develop security specialists, both at the University of Tulsa, says opportunities for those trained in information security are "unbelievable." Tulsa is one of about 12 universities supported by NSF grants to produce security experts—a "Cyber Corps"—as a first line of defense in the U.S. against terrorists and Internet hackers.
Online job sites are logging an increasing number of listings for information security slots. Monster.com posted more than 60 security-related design engineering positions in March/April. Dice.com has run several listings for communications security (COMSEC), information security (INFOSEC), computer security (COMPUSEC), and software security engineers and architects.
Aerotek, a contract engineering firm, said it was "looking for a system engineer to help develop front-end communications security." APR Consulting was seeking a software specialist to develop a Microsoft-centric version of its client's enterprise security architecture. "The ability to deal with ambiguity" is high on the list of APR's requirements for the job. Computer Science Corp. put out a call for an INFOSEC specialist with a BSEE and experience in system security analysis and implementation.
Trade groups, like the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium or (ISC)2, which focus on training and certifying information security professionals worldwide, are currently posting listings for senior IT security engineers, network security engineers and analysts, and network design consultants by field of interest (i.e., military/government, banking/accounting, manufacturing).
Amer Haider, head of strategic marketing at Cavium Networks, a semiconductor company that produces network security processors, says there's a clear requirement for hard-core researchers in cryptography development and protocol development. "Hardware design guys making the boxes that will push secure traffic performance, chip guys who build the fast processors, like us, the embedded software guys who implement protocols in applications, and the application guys who write Web-server applications are all in demand," he says.
Wireless growth, particularly with the recent introduction of Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) Interoperability testing for IEEE 802.11 wireless local-area networking products and Bluetooth, has created its own opportunities. As stated in a recent report from Gartner Inc., a market research and technology advisory firm, "Security flaws and interoperability problems will make Bluetooth-enabled devices inadequate for use without additional spending to correct the problem areas."
But Shenoi says the nation's basic telephone is the major concern of homeland security officials. "There are a lot of openings in SS7 \[Signalling System 7\], the core network," he says.
Shenoi is placing most of his graduates at federal government agencies, mainly the NSA, the FBI, NASA, the Air Force and Army, and the Commerce Department. "Practically all of these positions require designing security systems," Shenoi says. On the commercial side, he notes, the biggest opportunities lie with telecom companies, followed by Internet service providers, management consulting firms, and companies like Cisco, Microsoft, and Oracle.
Corporate-level information technology positions are also available and changing. David Cullinane, chief information security officer at Washington Mutual, a Seattle-based bank, says, "The field is much more technical now and requires information security-specific training, preferably with an advanced degree."