Security architects

One of the hottest new job titles around these days is the "security architect."



One of the hottest new job titles around these days is "security architect." But be careful if you answer those ads, because the moniker can mean different things to different people.

Joyce Brocaglia, co-founder and partner of Alta Associates, a search firm specializing in information security in Flemington, N.J., defines a security architect as a management-level position. A security architect, she says, is generally brought into companies that don?t yet have a formalized security program.

"Companies will start with an architect" instead of a full-blown chief security officer, Brocaglia explains. The architect "assesses where the company is today and where it needs to be, lays out a strategy and staffs up to implement it." There is also a huge need for technology-specific architects who have skills in, say, public key infrastructure or intrusion detection technology, she adds.

On the other hand, Lee Kushner, president and CEO of L.J. Kushner & Associates, another search firm specializing in information security, in Freehold, N.J., defines the security architect as having "a couple of different functions," which can be either technical or strategic or both. From a technical viewpoint, the architect figures out how to design technology solutions that integrate operating systems with security software and how to ensure that the network is set up securely, for example.

From an enterprise perspective, Kushner says, the architect develops security awareness programs, establishes rules and guidelines for how security could be utilized and upheld at all different levels of the organization, leads the way with security education, and so on.

Other new security-related job titles include:

* Chief privacy officer. This person will make sure that a company?s Web-related privacy policies are relevant, appropriate and upheld. This position is "very new," Brocaglia says, "IBM just announced a CPO in the past month, and you?ll be seeing more and more companies following suit."

* Application security specialist. This person is in charge of securing the applications code, to review Web-based applications and make sure the code "cannot be hacked or otherwise compromised," Kushner explains.

* Security program managers or practice directors, especially in consulting firms. These folks need a combination of relationship management, project management and technical skills, Brocaglia says. These are "good 'face' people who can be a combination of business development expert and technical consultant. It?s a really exciting position because a person gets to really develop a lot of their skills."

* Trusted security advisor or security evangelist. Again, these titles are more prevalent at consulting firms or in marketing organizations of technology suppliers, Kushner says. Guardent Inc., a Waltham, Mass.-based security consultancy, in November announced the appointment of its trusted security advisor. The title says "this is our guru, our person who understands both technology and strategy," Kushner explains.

One title that isn?t new but is still pretty hot: Chief Security Officer (CSO). This person is generally a company?s top security officer and reports to the chief information officer or another senior-level IT exec. Although the title?s been around for a couple of years, the increasing focus on e-commerce security ?- including a well-publicized recent breach at Egghead.com, where thieves may have grabbed some customers? credit card numbers -? is adding fuel to the CSO fire.

As the security honcho, the CSO needs to have more management skills than technical, recruiters say. The ability to speak with fellow execs about security issues is much more critical than understanding the latest cryptography breakthrough.

About the author:

Johanna Ambrosio is a contributing editor based in Marlborough, Mass. She can be reached at jambrosio@mediaone.net.


This was first published in February 2001

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