Cybersecurity is such big business in Alabama that the state’s Department of Commerce identifies it as high growth, naming seven different state government agencies that conduct ongoing cybersecurity research in addition to 10 private sector cybersecurity startups. Huntsville, Birmingham, and Montgomery are all on the map for their cybersecurity efforts and have been identified as areas with some of the best opportunities for high-paying private sector cybersecurity jobs.
Birmingham’s own Malcovery Security patented the process it uses to identify the common source and nature of email-based cyberattacks. Clients including IBM, Facebook, Visa, eBay, and LinkedIn use the company’s proprietary technology to automatically ID a phishing website without human intervention, then use comparison and clustering technology to determine whether the source of the attack is a known actor or one that has not yet been identified.
The Air Force is relying so heavily on the state’s booming cybersecurity industry that military leaders addressed the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce in 2015. The presence of Maxwell Air Force Base-Gunter Annex in concert with the volume of local IT talent provides the impetus behind the Air Force’s efforts to create a cyber security think tank in Montgomery. Lt. General Steven Kwast was quoted in WSFA as saying that “no place in the country, not even Silicon Valley…have what we have in Montgomery.”
In addition to presenting a large number of employment opportunities, Alabama’s cybersecurity industry will help to strengthen businesses, medical records, and military installations against cyber breaches.
For instance, the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville was home to one of the top ten most infamous hacks in history according to CSO Online. In 1999, a 16-year old hacker known by the name of c0mrade downloaded approximately $1.7 million worth of proprietary software developed for the International Space Station—causing NASA to shut down its computer systems for 3 weeks.
High-profile targets in Alabama have attracted hackers for decades. Recent high-profile cybersecurity breaches that affected Alabama have ranged from a sophisticated hack of 4.5 million patient records from Community Health Systems in 2014 to the relatively low-level attack of the non-profit Red Barn website by ISIS sympathizers who subsequently posted a pro-ISIS message and image on the website in 2015.
Salaries for Key Cybersecurity Positions in Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile
According to the Robert Half Technology 2016 Salary Guide, cybersecurity experts in Alabama’s major cities of Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile can expect to be offered salaries within the ranges shown here. The most experienced master’s-prepared cybersecurity specialists can expect to earn on the high end of these ranges:
- Data Security Analyst – $97,825 – $152,000
- Systems Security Administrator – $100,225 – $142,025
- Network Security Administrator – $98,088 – $139,650
- Systems Security Administrator – $98,115 – $139,035
- Data Security Analyst – $105,555 – $148,800
- Network Security Administrator – $96,023 – $136,710
- Data Security Analyst – $97,610 – $137,600
- Systems Security Administrator – $90,730 – $128,570
- Network Security Administrator – $88,795 – $126,420
Job Growth and Salary Data for Alabama’s Information Security Analysts
The Alabama Department of Labor included information security analysts on its top 20 list of high demand occupations for the projection period running from 2012 to 2022. The Department expects this occupation to see 31.95% job growth during this ten-year period leading to 330 positions opening up over this time frame. This appears to be an underestimate of the growth potential for information security analysts in the state, since by 2015 the number of new positions had already increased by 240.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a detailed analysis of salaries for IT professionals working in this role throughout Alabama as of 2015. Individuals with a master’s degree in cybersecurity are likely to earn the salaries shown in the higher percentiles: