Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Huge demand for IT security staff

Demand for IT security services is expected to grow tenfold in the next decade. Photo / Thinkstock
Demand for IT security services is expected to grow tenfold in the next decade. Photo / Thinkstock

Fears sparked by the likes of WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden mean information security staff are now among the most sought after professionals in New Zealand.

According to the 2014 Global Salary Survey, released today, IT security staff who can "thoroughly review company security systems'' should expect a pay increase of 9 per cent this year, with demand for their services expected to grow tenfold in the next decade.

Tom Derbyshire, an IT manager at recruitment consultancy Robert Walters, which is behind the survey, said this was because of recent phenomena such as WikiLeaks, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and the 2012 data breach at Work and Income (WINZ), where freelance data journalist Keith Ng downloaded thousands of personal documents from public kiosks at branches in Wellington.

"People are just more protective of their data and their security these days and they're worried about their reputation if there's a breach,'' Mr Derbyshire said.

"They want to make sure that all their details are secure so they don't go through any of those sorts of issues.''

According to the survey, security specialists can expect to earn between $90,000 and $120,000 in 2014, up from $80,000 to $110,000 last year.

Aura Information Security managing director Andy Prow said the reason for the increased demand was clear: "catch up.''

"People previously didn't see it as a huge issue so there is still a huge amount of old-legacy and business-as-usual systems around, and now everyone is panicking because security is at the forefront of everyone's mind and they're playing catch up.

"Two years ago around most company board rooms the issues of privacy and information security wouldn't even have been discussed. Nowadays, at briefings with exec teams or boards they're talking about information privacy: what if we got hacked? Could we be in the press?''

It wasn't only the private sector that was hopping to beef-up their security systems.

"There is a huge push across government to make sure that New Zealanders' information is being protected properly. The push is as big across the public sector as it is in the private sector.''

Mr Prow said Aura had nearly doubled its workload in the last 12 months alone and had taken on more staff.

Without specifying, he said staff had received more than a 9 per cent pay increase in that period.

One of the major incidents which led to the change in mentality in New Zealand was the 2012 data breach at WINZ, Mr Prow said.

According to Ministry of Social Development documents, released under the Official Information Act, more than $4 million was spent on cyber security as a result, with $340,500 going towards security testing by third party companies, $776,500 to internal staff and $3 million to "external resources''.

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Salaries to rise 3.6 per cent this year

- NZ Herald

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