When hackers target financial institutions, consumers have to deal with unauthorized purchases, drained bank accounts and credit score issues. There’s also the unnerving feeling that comes with someone unknown having viewed your private information.

Now imagine having your medical records hacked.

Patients need to be able to discuss any ailment or concern they have with their physician in confidence. Some conditions carry social stigmas and information can be misinterpreted by nonmedical professionals. It’s a nightmare scenario that goes beyond financial woes.

Even if the cyber intruders don’t steal medical information, the damage can still be considerable.

The 2015 security breach of Anthem, the second-largest health insurer in the United States, reportedly affected 80 million current and former customers. The stolen information included birth dates, Social Security and medical ID numbers, email and street addresses, telephone numbers and employment data, including income.

That’s why protecting the security of electronic health records (EHR) is so important. For insurance companies, hospitals and other healthcare organizations with sensitive digital data, health data security analysts are considered the guardians of the electronic gates.

Job Growth in Data Security

This is driving above-average job growth. For example, employment of information security analysts nationwide will increase by 18% from 2014 to 2024, partly fueled by expanding use of electronic medical records, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects.

That will outpace the rate for all computer-related occupations (12%) and the average increase for all occupations (7%) during the same decade, according to federal statistics.

Data Security Analysts Job Duties

As cyber attacks grow in number and sophistication, so do the duties of cybersecurity professionals. Data security analysts devise and execute security measures designed to guard an organization’s computer networks and systems.

A vital part of stopping an attack is staying ahead of the hackers. Analysts need to be aware of the methods employed by cyber criminals, as well as of trends in security technology. An organization’s computer and information systems manager or chief technology officer (CTO) may work with the data security analyst to design security systems.

Day-to-day duties of a data security analyst can include:

  • Monitoring networks for security breaches
  • Investigating and documenting intrusions
  • Installing and monitoring security software such as firewalls and data encryption programs
  • Simulating attacks to discover vulnerabilities before they are exploited, known as penetration testing

    How to Become a Data Security Analyst

    Becoming a data security analyst can begin with earning a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems or a related field. Employers may prefer candidates with a Master of Science in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity or an MS in Information Technology.

    Data Security Analyst Salary and Employment

    Nationwide, information security analysts earned an average yearly wage of $93,250 as of May 2015, the BLS reports. That’s nearly twice the average for all occupations.

    Salary potential and employment opportunities are determined by multiple factors, including a candidate’s educational qualifications and work experience. Some employers may seek data security analysts who have worked in an information technology (IT) department, including roles such as network or systems analyst.

     

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