Today will see the opening shot in a campaign to lift the profile of IT security professionals and attract new talent by declaring 2005 the year of the information security professional.
The initiative is led by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, which certifies IT security professionals. The group has won endorsement from 30 organisations, including Microsoft, the Information Technology Association of America and the University of London's Royal Holloway College.
"We need to increase our visibility so that the rest of the people in our organisations can identify and appreciate the value we bring," said James Wade, director of the group and former chief security officer for the US Federal Reserve. "Through the year of the information security professional we hope to highlight and underscore what the profession is about and what benefits it brings."
As part of the year of the information security professional, the group plans to expand its conferences to attract people interested in becoming information security professionals. A spokeswoman said that the group planned to offer scholarships to undergraduates. Currently it offers scholarships only to graduates.
Other activities to generate interest in the field and inform the public will include seminars, mentoring programmes and panel discussions.
According to the group, there are about 1.3 million information security professionals worldwide. By 2008, the number is expected to reach 2.1 million, according to a study by market research firm IDC.
The IDC survey also found that security professionals have experienced growth in job prospects, career advancement, higher base salaries and salary premiums for certification at faster rates than other areas of IT.
"Information security professionals haven't received the recognition they deserved until very recently," said group spokeswoman Sarah Bohne. "They were seen as an offshoot of IT and few companies, business people and certainly consumers knew that they existed."
Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service