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Information Security Analysts

History

Spies, saboteurs, and other troublemakers have sought to steal financial and business data, as well as state secrets, since the first governments and businesses were formed. Those who obtained unauthorized information could get a competitive business edge; cause financial ruin to businesses, organizations, and individuals; and even threaten the stability of governments.

The first major misuse of technological systems occurred in the telecommunications industry in the 1970s. Hackers (also known as crackers) “cracked” telephone systems and used them to make free phone calls. The possibilities for crime grew as personal computers began to be networked and connected to telephone lines, modems, and the early version of the Internet (then called the ARPANET).

In 1988, the first malicious software program, later called a worm, was released onto the Internet. It caused thousands of connected computers to fail. In late 1988, the release of another worm prompted security experts at the National Computer Security Center (which is part of the National Security Agency), to create the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) Coordination Center. This federally funded organization monitors and reports malicious activity on the Internet. Many consider the founding of the CERT Coordination Center as the beginning of the information security industry.

In 1993, the National Information Infrastructure Act was passed. It created federal criminal liability for the theft of trade secrets and for “anyone who intentionally accesses a protected computer without authorization, and as a result of such conduct, recklessly causes damage.”

In the early 2000s, computer viruses and other computer- and Internet-related illegal activity became more prevalent. This fueled the growth of computer security firms, an increasing emphasis on information security by government agencies, and strong demand for information security analysts.

Today, information security remains a paramount issue in both the private and public sectors. In fact, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence ranks cybercrime as the top national security threat, higher than that of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and espionage. The consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers reports that the number of cyberattacks on mid-size companies increased from 2,581 in 2013 to 4,227 in 2014. 

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