By Nishanti Kumar | TNN
ON THE WEB, 26 November 2012
True that the World Wide Web has bonded its numerous netizens into a virtual village, but it has also led to incidents of hacking, data thefts, and virus attacks. India faced a severe test during the 2010 Commonwealth Games when cyber attacks from Pakistan and China sought to damage information systems. What’s more, cyber strikes originating from Eastern Europe and countries like the US, China, Russia and Iran have attacked Indian domains lately.
Amidst this cloud of cyber crimes, there is a silver lining that comes in the form of job opportunities for students in the field of information security. Recognising the dearth of trained cyber security experts, the Indian government has expanded the career prospects in this field by announcing to train 5 lakh cyber warriors in the next five years to boost e-defense. A government-private sector plan, this initiative aims at beefing up India’s cyber security, as we face a shortfall of 4.7 lakh such experts, despite our reputation of being an IT and software powerhouse. The government also intends to introduce specialised cyber security-related curriculum in engineering and management courses and establish Institute of Cyber Security Professionals of India.
Contrary to the importance given to network security and threat prevention in countries like the UK, US and China, India is lagging behind in identifying the need for this scarce skill-set. “The rising spate of cyber attacks has alerted government and private organisations, thus generating a huge demand for information security professionals to safeguard and monitor their network and systems,” says GM Ajit, director, National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology, Calicut.
“Be it an organisation or an individual, everybody wants to ensure the safety of their system, thus, relying heavily on information security experts. Government departments and security agencies too demand large number of cyber security professionals,” says Parul Khanna, a certified ethical hacker. As per industry experts, job opportunities in this field have outnumbered trained professionals. According to Angad Paul, director, Appin Technology, Noida, a lab that works in the field of information security, “IT security with ethical hacking skills is the most promising career to be in, with challenges and excitement every day of the work. There is a huge shortage of IT security manpower, only 60,000 professionals are available with respect to lakhs of jobs in IT security field in India.”
Elaborating on the skill-set required to succeed in the field of information security, Bezawada Bruhadeshwar, International Institute Information Technology, Hyderabad, says, “It’s a field that requires your keen interest, professional training and thorough knowledge of operating systems, programming, networks and protocols. Cyber criminals strike through virus attacks, destroy systems, modify and steal data from your system without your knowledge. The first and foremost job as an information security expert are to detect and analyse the vulnerabilities and then plug the loopholes to protect the system, network and data. Cyber security experts need to know about coding of some basic languages and database handling skills.”
If you are a trained professional in this field, you can find placement as network security systems manager, network security administrator, network security engineer, web security administrator, web security auditor, application security tester, ethical hacker, information security analyst, database and software developer, data security specialist, and chief information security officer.
An information security specialist can also start his own venture to provide security solutions to a variety of companies and government departments. Cyber security experts are a desired lot in banks, energy sector, hotels, airlines, healthcare, telecom companies, infrastructure, transportation, law enforcement, defence, emergency response systems and ITES companies, among others.
Graduates with a degree in computer science or engineering can opt for various full-time and short-term courses in information security, like MTech and MSc in Information Security, degree and diplomas in information security and network administration. Khanna says, “You need to be trained and certified from a reputed organisation. International certifications like Certified Ethical Hacker (EC-Council) and GPEN can do wonders to one’s career as a cyber security expert. Salaries in this field range from Rs 3 to 5 lakh per annum. With experience and desired expertise, the package may go up to 10-12 lakh per annum, and even to a crore.”
Though India is yet to have any university catering to ethical hacking or information security courses, there are several institutes , colleges and private labs, which impart courses and short-term programmes on cyber security. University of Madras, International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad, Institute of Information Security, NIELIT and SRM University are some of the institutes that offer programmes in this field. Hacking evangelist Ankit Fadia also offers certification and training course on ethical hacking.