Cryptography and Communications Security

Cryptography & Communications Security

Cryptography & Communications Security Career Overview

What is Cryptography and Communications Security?

Securing data for communication and information transmission is a key aspect of cryptography work. To encrypt data, cryptologists develop encryption algorithms, cyphers, and other security procedures. The information that has been coded is decrypted by crypto analysts. 

It is a constant battle to keep digital information safe and secure in a world of cyberwarfare and black-hat hackers. Specialists in cryptography, for instance, keep credit card numbers secret when making online purchases. Everything you do online would be public and available without this role. By using algorithms to encrypt military, financial, and business data, cryptographers create computer security solutions. In addition to protecting data from decryption, it is their responsibility to stop unauthorised individuals from copying, editing, or destroying digital data. 

The fundamental duties are the same for cryptology positions in eCommerce and the Military. Cryptographers seek out cybersecurity gaps and work to fill them with stronger encryption. For their employer, they create and oversee encryption technology, whether it be proprietary or third-party systems. They test the system and experiment with new cryptology ideas to look for vulnerabilities that hackers might be able to exploit. 

Although there are a variety of roles in this speciality, many are fairly technical, and some are quite specialised and demand a very high level of mathematical aptitude. Those in this profession have a solid understanding of the principles of cryptography, communications standards and technologies, and various other aspects of information technology. 

Roles & Responsibilities

What are the roles and responsibilities of a Cryptography and Communications Security Practitioner?

Protecting information that is transferred internally or externally with people or other organisations against unintentional disclosure and malicious attacks is a key component of this speciality's work.

The tasks likely included in this role are as follows:

  • Create security policies, such as those governing key management.
  • Evaluate the risks that new technology poses.
  • Examine how new technologies can be applied to boost security and agility.
  • Create analyses, papers, and presentations.
  • Give system implementers or developers advice on appropriate communications security components.
  • Construct new systems or aid in the integration of communications security components.
  • Maintaining digital certificates is one way to assist public key infrastructure (PKI) systems.
  • Keep careful records of PKI certificate information, especially when it comes to their expiration.
  • Run and keep up secure communications systems.
  • Make sure that the handling of individual messages complies with the classification levels' handling requirements (particularly in government and military roles).
  • Control alternate channels of communication for particular groups of communications.
Cryptography & Communications Security Salary

What is the salary of a Cryptography & Communications Security Practitioner?

As of September 2022, the median salary for a Communications Security Practitioner is £60,000, although salaries of £90,000 for senior practitioners have been reported.

As of September 2022, the median salary for a Cryptography Practitioner is £100,000, although salaries of £140,000 for senior practitioners have been reported.

 Most of the higher salaries are based in the UK’s larger cities, so it is expected that roles elsewhere may offer lower wages.

Data has been taken from ITJobsWatch (IT Jobs Watch | Real-Time Digital & IT Job Market Trends & Actionable Insights), which calculates the median from job vacancies published online within the last 6 months.

Knowledge, Skills, and Behaviours

What are the knowledge, skills, and behaviours required in Cryptography & Communications Security?

  • Possess a thorough understanding of the security implications of networking and telecommunication protocols, including the security of routing, network security components, and specific cryptographic algorithms used for network security.
  • An understanding of security techniques for larger-scale coordinated distributed systems, including distributed ledgers, clouds, multitenant data centres, secure consensus, time, event systems, and peer-to-peer systems.
  • Knowledge of the fundamental building blocks of cryptography as they are currently being used, as well as emerging algorithms, strategies for analysing them, and the protocols that use them.
  • General awareness of the security features of operating systems, including isolation in multiuser systems, secure virtualization, and security in database systems, as well as the implementation of safe hardware abstraction and resource sharing.
  • Skilled at using identity and access management protocols (e.g., OAuth2, SAML2, LDAP, OpenID, Kerberos).
  • Can account for communications security (COMSEC) and has some experience performing COMSEC inspections.
  • Can instal, maintain, and debug networks and communication equipment.
  • Has the ability to develop drivers, encryption, decryption software, and communications security equipment for both commercial and custom applications.
  • Thinks logically.
  • Has a rational way of solving issues.
  • Strictly adheres to rules.
  • Has strong abilities in both written and spoken communication, with the capacity to convey highly technical knowledge to a range of audiences.
Career paths in Cryptography & Communications Security

What are the career paths in Cryptography & Communications Security?

Outside of specific government agencies, academic institutions, or specialised commercial businesses, very few organisations employ cryptographers. Where such jobs do exist, however, cryptography practitioners work reasonably independently within the bounds of the established work schedule while being guided and supervised by senior practitioners.

In general, handling secure communications technology, notably in governmental organisations and military units, makes up the majority of the jobs in this speciality. A formal hierarchy with numerous levels, ranging from a trainee communicator or signals specialist to a communications manager or unit commander, will exist in such organisations.

Practitioner roles in communications security are far more prevalent. With the exception of certain very big organisations, which may have vast teams managing their secure communications systems, few organisations will hire more than one or two practitioners due to the specialised nature of the task.

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