Security is an area that can make or break a company. Keeping sensitive digital information private and protecting technical systems from viruses and hackers is critical. Because of this, it is one of the few specialty areas within information technology where companies will continue to invest money even in an economic downturn.
If you're considering a career in information security, also known as cybersecurity, it's a good idea to consider joining one of the many professional organizations dedicated to the field. The professional organizations below are focused in the information security industry. These organizations offer excellent ways to stay current on cutting-edge topics and network with your information security peers.
The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, or (ISC)2, is a highly regarded, global, not-for-profit leader in educating and certifying information security professionals.
ISACA is a global professional organization for information governance, control, security and audit professionals. The standards set by ISACA are followed worldwide. They offer several professional certifications, industry publications, and conferences.
The AITP is a society for IT professionals worldwide. It features webinars, conferences, local chapters, awards for professionals and students, a career center with a jobs board, and plenty of networking options. They describe their core values as “integrity, respect, innovation, and service.” Founded in 1961 as NMAA (an association for accountants), it evolved into DPMA (for data processing professionals) before taking its current form in 1996. It has over 4500 members nationally.
The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a set of concepts and techniques for managing information technology (IT) infrastructure, development, and operations. ITIL certifications are managed by the ITIL Certification Management Board (ICMB) which is composed of the OGC, IT Service Management Forum International and two examinations institutes: EXIN (based in the Netherlands) and ISEB (based in the UK).
As its name implies, FIRST is a forum that allows information security incident response teams to share their experiences, tips, and information. Beyond the forum itself, the organization holds technical colloquia, sponsors meetings, and conferences, and features mailing lists and Web repositories where teams can share information and other resources. To become a member, you must be nominated by an existing member and have a sponsor perform a site visit. Once you're accepted, the organization requires you to comply with rules and bylaws, retaining the power to revoke membership is members do not cooperate.
Described as the “most trusted” source for information security training worldwide, SANS offers courses and certifications in a wide variety of security-related niches. It was established in 1989, and its programs have educated thousands of people (currently over 12,000 a year) since then. Founded initially as a research organization, SANS offers many kinds of educational resources for security professionals beyond courses, including blogs, papers, webcasts, and newsletters.
This nonprofit association focuses on providing networking and professional growth options for cybersecurity professionals worldwide. They host conferences, organize local chapters and committees, and distribute information through newsletters and a monthly journal. Members must follow the ISSA code of ethics to retain their affiliated status.
CIS delivers solutions and information for many security-related needs. It caters more to corporate entities (in both the public and private sectors) than to individuals. The organization provides resources for training and workforce development, compiles reports and case studies on industry topics, and offers various products and services (many of which are free or steeply discounted).
Joining a respected industry organization is a good idea for professionals in any field, but that is especially the case for rapidly changing fields like information technology and security. Explore some of the above or look for organizations with chapters near you.