What Does an Information Security Consultant Do?

Benjamin Arie

An information security consultant is also called a cyber or information technology (IT) security professional. Workers in this job are responsible for safeguarding computer systems. Information security personnel often work for governmental agencies and corporations, as well as non-profit organizations. Common tasks for IT security consultants include securing networks from hackers and preventing viruses from harvesting or damaging computer files.

An information security consultant can determine if vulnerabilities exist on an organization's computer networks.
An information security consultant can determine if vulnerabilities exist on an organization's computer networks.

In the modern world, businesses and organizations often depend on computer networks and the Internet to operate. While these connections can bring many opportunities, they also expose computers to potential threats. Malicious attacks on computer systems are not uncommon, and can occur as both automated viruses or targeted security breaches. Regardless of the source, computer security problems can result in sensitive data such as customer credit card numbers and business records being stolen.

IT security experts are retained by organizations and paid to locate and fix vulnerabilities. Consultants often work as independent freelancers, and advise several different clients simultaneously. An information security consultant does not need to have a formal education, and many are self taught. A degree in computer science and industry-recognized certification in system security is often helpful, however. Many consultants depend on referrals for business, and the previous track record of a cyber expert is very important.

The technical duties of an information security consultant can vary widely, depending on the needs of a client. Many cyber professionals provide general security services, such as installing antivirus programs and network firewalls for customers. If a client is concerned about a specific type of breach, such as the theft of financial data, security consultants may focus on proactively testing a system for security flaws. Viewing a network through the eyes of a hacker allows consultants to fix security holes before a vulnerability is exploited.

While the major focus of an information security consultant is to prevent computer attacks before they occur, cyber experts can also take action after a breach has been discovered. Some IT professionals provide services to stop malicious hacking while it is still in progress. These individuals must work against the clock to isolate and fix a detected security leak quickly. An information security consultant might also be tasked with investigating an event after data theft has occurred. Like other types of investigators, IT experts must methodically collect evidence to find the perpetrator of a cyber crime and provide advice to prevent the offense from reoccurring.

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