How to Become a Security Architect
If you are seeking a career in cybersecurity, then there are different paths that you can take, but keep in mind that there is no linear path to it. While some people enter the filed right after college, others jump from one IT role to another, until they reach their goal. However, as is the case with all other career, you must always begin with a general experience. You need to be well aware of how the information technology works before opting for a specialized field in this vast area of expertise. There are different entry level jobs for IT careers, however, if you are hell bent on pursuing a career in cybersecurity, then considering the position of a security architect may just be right for you. Keep in mind that over 30% of the cybersecurity jobs require candidates having an industry certification (Forbes, 2016).
As most of the cybersecurity jobs at the management level are highly specialized, therefore, the more certifications and specializations you have under your belt, the better your chances of landing a good job in a reputable organization. Employers look for candidates having acquired certifications that serve as a proof of their capabilities.
Security Architect Responsibilities
So what does a security architect do, you might ask? The answer is simple, a cybersecurity architect is responsible for problem solving and developing big picture strategies for a company’s security system. They thoroughly understand the system, and conduct research in order to plan and develop resilient security procedures and mechanisms. As security architect is responsible for designing, developing, and executing computer and network security in an organization.
They develop complex security structures in order to thwart external threats and are responsible for ensuring that those systems are working properly for combating hacker intrusions, combat malware, as well as DDoS attacks. Security architects are the people who state the requirements for firewalls, routers, wide area networks (WANs), local area networks (LANs), virtual private networks (VPNs), and other such network devices which may we susceptible to attacks. Furthermore, they are also responsible for strategizing the public key infrastructures (PKIs), as well as the use of certification authorities (CAs) and digital signatures. On the managerial level, security architects may even be required to work with other managers in deploying the employee protocols for maintaining the system. These protocols are much needed in high level security situations, where the system or network may be at risk.
After becoming a security architect, following are some of the things you will be required to do.
- Obtain a comprehensive understanding of the company’s technological as well as security requirements.
- Research, plan, and develop security architectures that are durable in nature for different IT Projects
- Create requirements for firewalls, networks, routers, and other related network devices.
- Perform risk analysis, security assessments, and vulnerability testing.
- Conduct research and then execute the latest security upgrades, standards, and follow the best practices.
- Instruct team members regarding new standards and procedures.
- Stay up to date with the latest trends in the industry.
- Develop cost estimates, and identify issues related to integration of the new protocols or security measures
- Review and approve the firewall, routers, VPN, IDS scanning servers and technologies installation.
- Test the security systems and structures in place to ensure they are working properly.
- Technically supervise the security team and guide them wherever needed.
- Define, deploy, and maintain the corporate security systems and policies
- Respond to security threats and other related incidents. Also provide a post event report.
Computer security, most often referred to as cybersecurity is a filed which has a huge demand for qualified individuals, especially at managerial positions. And this demand has definitely set the bar for the salaries these individuals receive. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a security architect is likely to earn an average income of $104,650/- per annum. Depending on an individual’s capabilities, this amount can increase as well. The demand for these professionals is also expected to grow by 6% during 2016-2026, which is as fast as the average growth rate for most of the fields in the It Industry. Over 160,00 jobs for security architects were available during 2016, and this number is expected to grow at a stagnant rate over the next couple of years.
On the other hand, Payscale states that the average yearly salary for a security architect is $120,369/-, going up to even $155,000/- per annum. This is a highly lucrative career option, if one chooses to pursue it, and as stated earlier as well, the demand is only expected to grow.
Typically, a security architect’s career path is as follows:
- Start off with completing your bachelor’s in computer science, cybersecurity, information technology, or any other related field. You may also choose to gain relevant experience, that is equivalent to obtaining a bachelor’s degree, from an industry.
- Get into the IT industry as a system, security, or a network administrator.
- Obtain a promotion to a mid-level role such as a security engineer or a security analyst.
- Get the role of a security architect and you have arrived at your destination.
However, the journey doesn’t end here. After becoming a security architect, you can go on to occupy the position of a security director or an IT Project manager, and then on to the C-level position.
Education Requirements and Qualifications
The security architect is considered to be a senior level position, that is why most of the employers and hiring managers seek candidates who have obtained accredited security certifications. By obtaining professional cybersecurity certifications and the training associated with it, an individual’s career path accelerates much faster than having no certifications at all. These certifications are proof that you have the essential skills required for becoming a security architect. For the beginner level, it is suggested to have the CompTIA Security plus certification, after which you should consider obtaining the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification as well. In order to advance and develop your skills further, The ECSA (EC-Council Certified Security Analyst) is the sure way to go. And to progress to the final stage and become an expert, consider obtaining the CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) certification. Other certifications include;
- CISSP- ISSAP: Information Systems Security Architecture Professional
- CISM: Certified Information Security Manager
- CSSA: Certified SCADA Security Architect
- GSEC/ GCIH, GCIA: GIAC Security Certifications
Start your journey to become a security architect today by opting for the Security+ certification from Quick Start.
Security Architect Requirements
The job requirements for a security architect are not only limited to the education and qualification stated earlier. There are other areas in which the candidate should be well versed in. In order to become a security architect, it is always better to pursue a Master’s degree along with other certifications, as that gives you an advantage over others. The focus of the qualification should be security, as that is the key to becoming a security architect. Additionally, having knowledge of the following topics also helps you rise to the top of the selection list.
- Unix, Windows, and Linux operating systems.
- Assessment procedures as well as risk management.
- Cyber law and ethics
- Security attack pathologies
- Security as well as enterprise architecture
- Wired and wireless security
- Network architecture and security
Additionally, because this is a managerial position, therefore, it is integral to have good written as well as verbal communication skills. It is also good to have leadership skills as you will be required to manage and lead teams, keep their morale up, inspire them to come up with creative solutions, and innovate while upgrading the system.
In terms of experience, the security architect should have at least 5-10 years of experience in the IT field, preferably that is relevant to the job role such as having 3-5 years of experience in a security related role. This includes having experience with business planning, application development and system analysis. In addition to these, the candidate for a security analyst position should also have hard as well as soft skills. What might they be? Let’s find out.
The technical skills which are bound to come in handy for an individual aiming to become a security analyst include;
- Knowledge and understanding of policy formation, assessment procedures, authentication technologies, role-based authorization methodologies, and security attack pathologies.
- COBIT, ISO 27001/27002, and ITIL frameworks.
- Perimeter security controls – network segmentation, network access control, IDS/IPS, and firewall.
- Knowledge and understanding of security concepts such as routing, DNS, Proxy services, VPN, authentication, and DDOS mitigation technologies.
- Knowledge and a basic understanding of security architecture, enterprise architecture, and IT strategy.
- Knowledge and understanding of the process of developing network security architecture.
- Knowledge and understanding of cloud risk assessment, and third-party auditing methodologies.
As mentioned previously, having a god command over your native language as well as the information technology language will definitely give you an advantage. But all that is not going to matter if you cannot communicate well, which is why it is so important for you to possess impeccable oral, teaching and communication skills as most often you will be required to convey technical information to an audience that knows nothing about it. Problem solving and strategic thinking are also some of the soft skills that you must possess.
Is Security Architect the same as a Security Auditor?
Many people tend to confuse security architects with security auditors and vice versa. However, that is not the case. A basic difference between them, is that a security architect is responsible for designing and overseeing the roll out of the system, strategizing and managing the team, etc. Whereas, a security auditor is the person who is responsible for physically deploying the roll out requested by the security architect. While they work in the same departments, security architects and security auditors are two different roles, with differing responsibilities. The architect has managerial responsibilities such as reviewing the costs and budgets, execution of the plan within the designated timelines, ensuring that all systems are running smoothly, so while the security architect oversees, the security auditor implements.
Information Technology is a field in which there are many jobs which seem similar. It is very important to understand the job description before applying for it, especially if you are aiming to become a security architect. Following are some of the roles which security architects occupy.
- Information System’s Security Architect
- Information Technology Architect
- Network Security Architect
- Enterprise Information Security Architect
Resume Sample of a Security Architect
Always remember that your resume is your first point of contact for the employer or hiring manager. So, it is very important to have an impressive resume so that it catches the employer’s eye. Always begin with your name and address, and then follow it up with your objective, experiences and the rest. Sample resume is given below for your understanding.
To make a difference in society with my skills, and to utilize all that I have learned in impacting knowledge to the next generation.
I am a proven security professional, having worked on numerous projects and successfully implementing state of the art technological solutions. Specialties include system architecture, network designing, security assessment, configuration management, vulnerability assessment and management, pen-testing, disaster recovery planning, business continuity planning, as well as system administration
Information Security Architect February 2016 – Current
- Information Security Project Management
- Vulnerability and patch management
- Planning and developing security architecture
- Malware analysis
- Security assessment and pen-testing
- Business continuity planning
- System hardening, solution development and deployment
- Disaster recovery planning
- Audit and compliance management
Technical Manager May 2013 – February 2016
- Management of network design and planning
- Management of deployment of the plan
- Budgeting; cost planning as well as optimization
- Network optimization
- Capacity management
- Management of network operation
- Management of access control
- Service delivery
- Project management
- Resource management
Network Operations Manager January 2012 – April 2013
Network Operations Engineer January 2011 – December 2011
- Incidence Response Management
- Management of Network Operations
- Planning for disaster recovery
- OSS deployment and administration
- Upgradation of the network along with its maintenance
- Troubleshooting and fault analysis of the network
Information Security Engineer September 2009 – November 2010
- Business Impact Analysis
- Business continuity planning
- Risk assessment
- Enterprise security
- Endpoint security
- Network security
- Project management
- Solution development and deployment.
CompTIA Security+ Certification 2015
Management of Information System, network, and services from ABC Engineering School 2014
Master degree in Computer science from Institute of Information and Technology 2014
Bachelor degree in Networking and Communication services from Institute of Information
And Technology 2010
XYZ College 2006
- Network and Systems Security
- System Administration
- Firewalls, Load Balancers, Routers and Switches
- Project Management
- Malware Analysis
- Pen testing
- SDH/ PDH/ GMS/ UMTS/ LTE
- SIEM Solutions
- Endpoint security
- Data integrity
- Disaster recovery
- Vulnerability and patch management
- Risk assessment
- Data loss prevention
- Regulatory compliance
- Business impact analysis
- Management of mobile devices
- Management of privilege access
English: Fluent with professional proficiency
References will be provided upon request
Common Security Analyst Job Interview Questions
It is very important for an individual to be prepared for their interview. So here are a couple of questions which you can expect at the onset of an interview.
- Please tell us about yourself
- Why are you looking to switch jobs?
- What according to you are some of your strengths and weaknesses?
- Can you give an example of a situation in which you were stuck in a problem and how you overcame it?
- What are your career goals and aspirations?
- What achievements have you had in your current job?
Not that you have gone over the type of questions which can be asked at the beginning of the interview, let’s look at some of the technical questions that are likely to be asked for the position of a security architect.
- What the some of the most potent cybersecurity threats out there?
- In order to detect security faults on your network, what kind of tests can you run?
- There are some types of websites which should be blocked, can you tell us which those are?
- If remote employees need access to the network, then what type of access should be given to them?
- What is a firewall?
- Can you also explain the various types of security flaws there are in the VPN?
- Have you worked with a network gateway before? What is the difference between that and a firewall?
- From your past experiences, can you share some instances when you prevented, through system design, security breach?
These are some of the main questions which an interviewer is likely to ask. It is always better to be prepared for the interview, and always take your best foot forward, choose your best attire, and dress to impress.
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