Security Auditor Career Overview
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Security auditors review computer security systems. These specialized information security professionals are experts in cybersecurity, penetration testing, and policy development.
As cyberattacks increase, so does the demand for skilled information security professionals. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 35% increase in employment for security analysts from 2021-31. These professionals earn a median annual salary of $102,600.
Security auditors assess computer system safety and efficiency. They provide detailed reports, identify weaknesses, and offer suggestions for improvement. They may also test databases and networks to ensure they comply with IT standards.
Finance companies, small- and large-scale businesses, and nonprofit organizations conduct security audits regularly. Security auditors consider organizational policies and government regulations when carrying out tasks.
Origin of Cybersecurity Auditors
Cybersecurity professionals have been around since computers and information technology. Computer hackers existed as early as 1969 when they tweaked software and hardware to improve performance at MIT.
Cybersecurity auditors emerged during the 1990s with the increase in tech crimes. The internet boom during the early 2000s increased the need for cybersecurity policies, processes, and technologies.
As individuals who assess online security systems, cybersecurity auditors emerged are essential for keeping data safe. Cybersecurity auditors test the efficacy of cybersecurity defenses, review security controls, and make recommendations about improvements.
Cybersecurity auditors must remain up-to-date on potential cybersecurity threats, emerging practices and technologies, and policies and regulations that apply to cybersecurity.
Similar Specializations and Career Paths
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 13% growth in employment for occupations in computer and information technology jobs between 2020 and 2030. Cybersecurity roles include information security analysts, penetration testers, and security systems administrators.
Like cybersecurity auditors, information security analysts assess the safety of existing cybersecurity defenses. Security systems administrators oversee plans and activities related to an organization's computer systems. Also known as ethical hackers or "white hat" hackers,penetration testers identify problems with applications and programs and report their findings.
Many duties of cybersecurity auditors overlap with penetration testers or information security analysts. With experience and additional education, including industry certifications or cybersecurity bootcamps, a cybersecurity auditor can move into an advanced role like a security systems administrator.
|Career||Description||Required Education||Required Experience||Median Annual Salary|
Penetration testers search for and identify vulnerabilities in web applications, operating systems, and network devices.
Information security analysts develop and implement security measures to protect computer systems and networks.
Less than five years
Security systems administrators oversee all cybersecurity activities within a company or organization.
Five years or more
What Does a Cybersecurity Auditor Do?
Security auditors carry out audits based on organizational policies and governmental regulations. They work closely with IT to assess security controls and practices. They also test IT systems to identify risks. Security auditors evaluate firewalls, encryption protocols, and related security measures.
Through interviews and cooperation with executives, managers, and IT professionals, security auditors develop plans to improve security compliance, reduce risk, and manage potential security threats.
As external auditors, security auditors offer an objective perspective on an organization's security practices. Companies and businesses bring in security auditors at regular intervals to check their own effectiveness and ensure their systems adhere to industry standards.
Security auditors also introduce new practices and technologies to companies and organizations. They advise companies or organizations to make changes based on current practices and emerging trends and issues in the field. They have significant responsibility and opportunities to develop security solutions. These professionals may travel extensively, offering their services as needed.
Key Soft Skills for Security Auditors
Curiosity: Security auditors have a desire to learn, make connections, and ask questions as they identify and address cybersecurity issues. Security auditors are willing to think outside the box and seek out new information when needed. Adaptability: Security concerns and issues come up at unexpected times, requiring professionals to adapt quickly. New types of cybersecurity threats and emerging tools and technologies also require flexibility. Communication: Security auditors assess cybersecurity practices and prepare reports about their findings. This requires verbal and written communication skills. Security auditors listen to the concerns and ideas of others, make presentations, and translate cyberspeak to stakeholders. Problem-solving: Security auditors identify vulnerabilities and propose solutions. They analyze risk, develop interventions, and evaluate the efficacy of potential solutions.
Key Hard Skills for Security Auditors
Intrusion detection: Intrusion detection involves monitoring networks or systems for suspicious activities. Security auditors know the various tools and techniques to detect suspicious activity. These professionals record, track, and examine intrusions to identify ways to prevent future incidents. Audit planning: Security auditors conduct a full assessment of an organization's information systems. They identify the audit's goals and scope, find threats, evaluate risks, and determine how to improve existing cybersecurity measures. Computer systems and networks: Security auditors understand the various types of software and hardware used within an organization. This may include operating systems like Windows and Linux, database platforms such as Oracle and MySQL, and cloud computing technologies like Salesforce and AWS. Security standards: Cybersecurity auditors have knowledge of various security standards that apply to their duties. This may include those of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the International Safe Harbor Privacy Principles, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act.
A Day in the Life of a Security Auditor
The day-to-day activities of security auditors vary depending on the organization's needs. A security auditor's duties and responsibilities may include:
- Inspecting and evaluating existing cybersecurity practices and policies
- Testing aspects of cybersecurity defenses
- Investigating recent breaches or threats
- Ensuring compliance with applicable laws and regulations
- Recording incidents of intrusions or attempted intrusions
- Preparing reports with audit results using accessible language
- Making recommendations about improvements, upgrades, and updates for cybersecurity systems
Security Auditor Salary and Career Outlook
Payscale reports that IT and security auditors earn an average annual salary exceeding $70,000 as of August 2022. Entry-level security auditors earn about $60,000, while mid-career professionals take home more than $88,000. Senior-level security auditors earn over $118,000 annually.
As computer and IT professionals, security auditors benefit from a projected 15% growth in employment from 2021-31, which is faster than average. According to the BLS, computer and information technology occupations will add 682,800 positions in this period.
With many of the same skills and duties as information security analysts, security auditors may experience similar positive growth. Far exceeding projections for the computer and information technology field, the BLS projects information security analyst jobs to grow by 35% from 2021-31.
Top industries for information security analysts include financial services and computer systems design. Companies and businesses in these sectors conduct regular security audits, which proves promising for cybersecurity professionals.
Average Base Salary
Source: Payscale (August 2022)
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How to Become a Security Auditor
Security auditors usually have undergraduate degrees in computer science, information technology, or a related field. Associate degrees may be enough, but most employers prefer bachelor's degrees. Through classes in computer software and hardware, programming, and cybersecurity issues, aspiring security auditors establish a solid foundation for their goals.
Coursework in an undergraduate degree builds fundamental knowledge, which learners can apply in entry-level positions as systems, network, or security administrators. Professionals in these roles test systems and networks for vulnerabilities, establish security requirements, and conduct basic audits.
Mid-level security auditing positions include security specialist, security engineer, and security consultant. Security specialists oversee the design, implementation, and monitoring of security systems. Security engineers build and maintain IT security solutions, while security consultants offer advice on improvements to existing security policies and practices.
Prospective security auditors use the knowledge and skills developed in entry- and mid-level IT security positions to achieve their career goals. To become security auditors, individuals need 3-5 years of experience in general information technology or information technology security. Senior security auditors have more than five years of field experience.
Security auditors may benefit from industry certifications and can continue on to graduate degrees. A master's degree in cybersecurity, information assurance, or information systems auditing enhances field knowledge and skills, helping professionals pursue advanced positions in the field.
A guide about moving from a broad IT career to one that focuses specifically on the duties of cybersecurity professionals.
An overview of associate degrees that provide coursework and training on the fundamentals of cybersecurity.
A guide to choosing the best school to pursue a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity.
Information about information technology bachelor's degrees and how they prepare you for a career in the field.
A look at master's degrees that train you to manage risks associated with the use, processing, storage, and transmission of information.
Information about cybersecurity master's degrees that provide advanced coursework and training in the field.
A comprehensive look at different types and levels of computer science degrees.
A guide to information systems security degree levels, what they include, and how they prepare you for a career in the field.
Professional Organizations for Cybersecurity Auditors
Learn More About Security Auditors
FAQ About Working as a Security Auditor
What is a security auditor?
Security auditors assess a company or organization's cybersecurity practices and policies to identify vulnerabilities. They document breaches, note vulnerabilities, and identify ways to improve information safety.
Are security auditor and IT auditor jobs the same?
A security auditor focuses on cybersecurity technologies and procedures. An IT auditor takes a comprehensive look at all IT systems to evaluate management controls.
Is it hard to get a job as a cybersecurity auditor?
Getting a job as a cybersecurity auditor often requires a college degree and industry experience. Identifying where jobs are available and what you need to know to stand out in the candidate pool will boost your chances of employment.
What kind of security audits are there?
Security audits can be done internally or externally. Internal security auditors are employed by the company or organization, while an external auditor is brought in from an outside entity.
Within the field of security audits, there are four kinds of audits: risk assessments, vulnerability assessments, penetration tests, and compliance audits.
Reviewed by: Monali Mirel Chuatico
In 2019, Monali Mirel Chuatico graduated with her bachelor's in computer science, which gave her the foundation that she needed to excel in roles such as a data engineer, front-end developer, UX designer, and computer science instructor.
Monali is currently a data engineer at Mission Lane. As a data analytics captain at a nonprofit called COOP Careers, Monali helps new grads and young professionals overcome underemployment by teaching them data analytics tools and mentoring them on their professional development journey.
Monali is passionate about implementing creative solutions, building community, advocating for mental health, empowering women, and educating youth. Monali's goal is to gain more experience in her field, expand her skill set, and do meaningful work that will positively impact the world.
Monali Mirel Chuatico is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.
Page last reviewed Sep 14, 2022
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