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What engineering and IT contractors need to know about cybersecurity

An interconnected world makes great things possible by bringing countries, businesses and people together – but it also puts massive amounts of data at risk. That is the reason the cybersecurity industry is experiencing robust growth, and why IT and engineering contractors with expertise in the field are in high demand. With federal and private investment in cybersecurity infrastructure skyrocketing and employers scrambling to find qualified talent, IT and engineering professionals need to be aware of the issues facing the industry, regardless of their areas of expertise.

Here are four things engineering and IT contractors need to know about cybersecurity:

1. Cybersecurity is rapidly evolving
Cybersecurity is no longer an emerging field – it is quickly becoming more nuanced and sophisticated. IT and engineering contractors can now find work in a variety of areas under the larger umbrella of cybersecurity, such as testing, intelligence analysis and architecture. Because cybersecurity is a quickly expanding industry that depends on many moving parts and skill sets, contractors can carve out a unique niche in which they can market themselves to garner highly competitive assignments.

The industry is maturing in other ways as well. Cybersecurity industry experts anticipate that C-level positions related to information security will become more prevalent in the next several years, as companies prioritize protecting their data. As large corporations take steps to safeguard online information, fresh startups in Silicon Valley and beyond are also jumping on the immense opportunity in the market. A growing number of cybersecurity consulting firms and software vendors are sprouting up across the country.

2. Each industry faces unique cybersecurity challenges
As cybersecurity methods and tools mature, a variety of industries including ecommerce, construction, manufacturing and finance are developing cybersecurity strategies specific to their fields. IT and engineering contractors should be aware of industry-specific cybersecurity issues and challenges to remain competitive.

For example, federal IT and engineering contractors face their own set of cybersecurity demands. Last year, the White House Office of Management and Budget announced its "Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan", which offers guidance on how federal agencies and contractors should respond to cybersecurity threats. The plan also calls for more widespread use of cutting-edge technologies. There are other documents that federal contractors should be aware of as well, including data confidentiality guidelines for contractors published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

3. Cybersecurity certifications help contractors stay competitive
To stay one step ahead in the contractor market for IT and engineering, contractors should be aware of cybersecurity certifications that can strengthen their resumes and ultimately their marketability. These include the Certified Information Systems Security Professional certification, CompTIA Security+ certification, GIAC Security Essentials certification and the Offensive Security Certified Professional certification. IT and engineering contractors should also seek out industry-specific cybersecurity certifications and training courses.

4. Cybersecurity needs contractors with up-to-date skills
With every new method of collecting, storing and sending data that is created – and with cybercriminals constantly finding more clever ways to steal that data – cybersecurity must quickly adapt. It is essential that IT and engineering contractors continually refresh their skill sets to be able to deal with the current issues and threats that cybersecurity faces.

Skills related to double-authentication will be in high demand during the next several years for IT and engineering contractors. A growing number of companies across industries are looking toward double-authentication, also known as two-step authentication, as a way to better safeguard customer and client data. For example, double-authentication could mean having someone sign in to his online profile with an ecommerce store first with a password and then through his mobile device to verify his identity. IT and engineering contractors that can design, implement and maintain foolproof double-authentication architecture will be highly sought after in the near future.

To ensure that contractors have the latest resources and training at their fingertips, CDI University provides free, 24/7 access to thousands of courses, books and other learning resources that can help widen your areas of expertise.