In an increasingly tech-centered world, network security is one of the top priorities for any organization. And to achieve a successfully protected network? Organizations rely on a security architect to ensure sensitive data is safe from cyber-attacks.
What is a Security Architect?
The security architect is an experienced, manager-level IT role within an organization’s cybersecurity team.
Their role is crucial in supporting the integrity, availability, confidentiality, and—most importantly—security of their organization’s data. And it takes a diligent, multi-faceted approach paired with a deep knowledge of IT to do so.
In short, they strategize and execute initiatives that will improve and maintain an organization’s cybersecurity. But as you’ll see, there’s no true ‘short list’ of a security architect’s responsibilities.
Security Architect Job Description
An architect handles a wide range of cybersecurity tasks, both defensive and offensive.
On the defensive, security architects will:
- Develop, integrate, and maintain multilevel cybersecurity designs, architectures, policies, and procedures
- Update these designs, architectures, policies, and procedures to align with progression of IT
- Execute and maintain Identity & Access Management (IAM)
- Ensure the Principle of Least Privilege (POLP) is applied to all employees
These individuals defend an organization’s network and data from oncoming threats, but they also proactively drive awareness of potential future threats. They may achieve this by staying up to date on emerging trends in cybersecurity, as well as securing the framework they’ve implemented.
Playing the offensive requires them to continually assess for weak spots in the ‘armor’ of cybersecurity they designed, or are currently supporting. This is done through:
- Penetration tests
- Vulnerability scanning
- Risk analysis
- Researching changing technologies
- Investigating major security events
- Analyzing existing cybersecurity design and forming strategies for improvement
Because this is a leadership role, the security architect must also balance technical work with business management tasks such as:
- Determining short and long-term personnel needs
- Finding ways to upgrade systems and assessing costs and benefits of those upgrades
- Negotiating with software vendors
- Ensuring compliance with legal, regulatory, and organizational security requirements
- General day-to-day leadership responsibilities
But, to truly ensure a network stays secure, the network users also need to be clued in. That’s why security architects are also responsible for increasing company awareness and overseeing cybersecurity training initiatives.
Cybersecurity Soft Skills
- Leadership and teamwork
- Data and trend research, analysis, and presentation
- Communication and organization
- Decision making
- Problem solving and trouble shooting
Cybersecurity Qualifications / Certifications
A qualified security architect must be proficient in malware analysis, project management, and leadership.
The role requires considerable industry experience—at least 5-10 years—and familiarity with networking principles. So, it can be instrumental for architects to have the following cybersecurity and IT certifications:
- CRTSA – CREST Registered Technical Security Architecture
- Provided through CREST
- CSSA – Certified SCADA Security Architect
- Provided through INFOSEC
- GNDA – GIAC Defensible Security Architecture
- Provided through GIAC
- CNDA – Certified Network Defense Architect
- Provided through EC-Council
- CISSP – Certified Information Systems Security Professional
- Provided through (ISC)
It’s also valuable to have cybersecurity certifications from major providers such as:
Security Architect Career Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 16% employment growth rate for information systems managers—such as security architects—from 2020-2030.
So, it’s safe to say there’s no sign of slowing down in the IT industry. Each year, data is stored via online networks at an increasing rate, making cybersecurity—and security experts—all the more valuable.
Cybersecurity is at the forefront of business priorities for many organizations, but the role of security architect is one that takes precedence. The amount of expertise and hands-on experience needed to successfully fill this position reduces competition and drives demand.
Security Architect Salary
Payscale projects the average salary for a security architect as $133,714. Of course, this can vary based on seniority and organization.
Becoming a Security Architect
The path to this career requires dedication, practice, and the right combination of technical and leadership skills. Ideating, implementing, and upkeeping an organization’s network security is no small task, but it is highly rewarding and increasingly valued.
If your strengths and skillsets align with those outlined above, becoming a security architect may be the right move for you! When you get to an interview phase, here are some common interview questions.