Nearly one sixth (15 per cent) of cyber security professionals are paid at least £100,000 a year, according to global professional services consultancy Procorre.
Pay has been driven up because demand for cyber security experts is high – with new cyber security roles making up 14 per cent of all new UK-based IT roles. Procorre found that out of 10,210 IT vacancies in the UK, 1,420 are in cyber security. Computing recently found in its own research that security is one area of IT in which salaries are soaring.
Demand is likely to have increased as a result of the high-profile attack at adulterers’ website Ashley Madison follows a wave of huge assaults on large companies and government organisations, including US retailer Target, the US Office of Personnel Management, and the UK organisations Carphone Warehouse and Mumsnet.
The professional services firm also found that British universities had also responded to the increase demand for cyber security experts, with 42 universities offering specialist degrees related to cyber security at an undergraduate level, and more than 700 cyber security related degrees available at postgraduate level.
The likes of Oxford University, University College London, Royal Holloway and Warwick University offer Master of Science degrees in areas such as ‘cyber security management’, ‘software and systems security’, and ‘information security’.
According to Wiktor Podgorski, contracts and HR manager at Procorre, companies are spending time working on strengthening firewalls in-house, while there has also been an increase in the number of specialist cyber security firms that take a reactive approach to defence. This includes things “such as luring hackers into deliberate traps or attempting to trace the source of an attack”.
“Many of the businesses that have been hacked over the past few years have lost very sensitive information. Even if the information lost does not put them at personal risk of financial loss, customers lose faith in companies that are unable to keep information secure, so data losses can have a significant long-term impact on sales and revenue,” said Podgorski.
Public sector departments are also amongst the organisations that have lost sensitive information, as documented by Computing last month.
And Procorre believes that UK businesses are concerned about potential fines from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) as well potential fines as a result of the new European Data Protection Directive, which is due to be implemented by the end of this year. This could see fines of up to €100m or five per cent of global revenue being given to firms that are hit by data breaches.
“With the new directive imminent, businesses need to be even more secure with the data they are storing,” said Podgorski.
“Cyber security experts are being drafted in to address any concerns that could see hackers access sensitive information, which may lead to a drop in revenue and a hefty fine. Not to mention the reputational damage,” he added.