A security analyst is a broad term that refers to professionals who are in charge of monitoring computer systems and information networks to guarantee that they are secure. Controlling file access and credentialing, maintaining firewalls and network updates, and aggressively trying to hack systems to seek for flaws and weaknesses are all examples of security analyst responsibilities.
A bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, information security, or a similar discipline, like all other job titles in the cybersecurity business, is the best preparation for a security analyst. Relevant work experience and internships along with professionals and industry-recognized credentials all contribute to the recruitment of cybersecurity analysts.
How to become a security analyst
Do your research
The best part is that the number of changes and new types of positions that fit under the cybersecurity analyst role category continues to grow, which means that cybersecurity professionals who position themselves effectively will have plenty of career opportunities. So, the first step in becoming a cybersecurity analyst is to figure out what kind of work you want to do and then match it with the degree and certification you’ll need. It’s wise to plan ahead of time because even entry-level security analyst positions may require specialized training.
Build up your educational background
Often these cybersecurity analysts, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), hold a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity (or a closely related field such as mathematics, computer science, or engineering). Security professionals with associate’s degrees and/or suitable training or background (such as military service, for example) may be able to secure entry-level cybersecurity work in the private sector with the proper cybersecurity certifications (see the following point).
Many jobs — both entry-level and mid-career — require some degree of certification that proves competency in some form of a specific skill, which differentiates cybersecurity from other professions. When considering a career in cybersecurity, it’s a good idea to look into the kind of certifications that are required for various positions within the sector.
Here’s a brief guide to understanding cybersecurity certifications
There are several different types of cybersecurity certification programs. In general, they have two primary functions. The first step is to teach new hires how to utilize specific tools and technology. The second reason is that professional certifications allow more experienced IT and computer networking professionals to verify and demonstrate skill proficiency.
Professional credentials, like those in other computer science and information technology professions, play an important role in cybersecurity employment and promotion. Professional cybersecurity certification programs and academic cybersecurity certification programs are the two major categories of cybersecurity certification programs available today.
Professional cybersecurity certifications are meant for individuals who are already working in the cybersecurity sector (or closely related IT and networking fields) and want to learn about the most up-to-date technologies and software for detecting, preventing, and combating cybersecurity threats. These certifications are used to demonstrate knowledge of specific technology. A professional certificate like CompTIA Security Plus is a standard entry-level professional cybersecurity certificate. (It is required by the Department of Defense for employment purposes)
Academic cybersecurity certifications are geared towards providing a thorough understanding of some of the most pressing concerns in the profession. Harvard’s online cybersecurity certification and the University of Maryland’s online undergraduate cybersecurity certification are two examples of academic certification programs. These courses are usually combined with additional coursework and certification programs to give students the skills and expertise they need to get started in the rapidly increasing cybersecurity industry.
There are a lot of certifications that qualify working professionals in specific skills, which is one distinguishing feature of the cybersecurity field. Many job postings and career positions in cybersecurity include some degree of certification, so it’s important to keep track of which credentials are in demand based on a career track or job type.
Some companies use specific data structures or network products, and as a result, their professional cybersecurity team may be required to be certified. The following are some examples of popular professional certifications:
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
- CompTIA Security+
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
These courses are considered foundational, and they may be an excellent place to start for those new to the profession of cybersecurity.
It’s worth noting that many cybersecurity certifications, even those regarded as essential, may need a combination of a credible academic curriculum and years of professional experience. Occasionally, certifying institutions will demand both. Some certifications will also charge a fee to screen applicants.
Tap into your network
Developing a professional network is a vital component of becoming a security analyst. The level of intelligence about the newest trends and possibilities in the industry is better with a network that is aligned with a certain career track.
What is a security analyst?
Security analysts are prepared to work on a wide range of computer and information networks. Security analysts can be found whenever huge amounts of data are being stored, exchanged, or used by a computer, from corporate databases to banking networks, and from office networks to military intelligence.
A highly-trained security analyst would most likely have a deep understanding of both hardware and software, as well as how data is being stored and handled.
Ransomware attacks, social engineering assaults, and the theft or compromise of critical information from within an organization or firm are the top three cybersecurity dangers facing information technology networks of all sizes. As a result, cybersecurity analysts must be able to cope with a wide range of threats as well as hunt for security vulnerabilities both internally and externally.
What skills and experience should a security analyst have?
By level of professionalism, the cybersecurity skills, and expertise necessary would vary greatly. Some security analyst positions require specific talents, such as administering a private network, teaching other personnel, or conducting penetration testing on the company’s digital assets.
Studying a variety of job descriptions at various types of organizations is one crucial approach for students and early career professionals to determine what the most valuable and marketable work abilities are. This research should begin to uncover patterns and how to present abilities and expertise that correspond to opportunities. Understanding the current work market can also assist you in determining which security certifications and degrees to pursue.
Despite the great variety of cybersecurity analyst roles, the profession has several features or skills in common:
- Programming experience needed. Given that cybersecurity analysts are responsible for protecting digital infrastructure, it’s only natural that they have considerable programming experience and are knowledgeable with core programming languages such as C, C++, PHP, Perl, and Java.
- Being Analytical. Security analysts work with data from a range of sources, therefore they must be able to make conclusions based on a variety of inputs.
- Detail-orientedness. Cybersecurity analysts spend a lot of time looking at subtle details such as bits of computer code or network commands. This can have a significant impact.
- Ability to think advanced. Based on existing data and trends, security analysts must forecast the future and offer security recommendations accordingly.
What are the responsibilities of security analysts?
In a company or organization, a security analyst may wear a variety of hats. They could be a combination of a police officer, systems designer, policymaker, and trainer, or teacher.
While security analysts are regularly relied upon to triage security incidents, most cybersecurity analysts spend their time formulating policies and procedures, analyzing best practices, and offering training to company or organization staff.
In an idealistic situation, a security analyst would be proactive in preventing security breaches from occurring in the first place. That could mean keeping systems and software up to date or actively hunting for ways to breach firewalls or exploit flaws in computer code or operating systems.
What are the job descriptions of a security analyst?
A simple search of the thousands of security analyst job descriptions demonstrates that the positions offered range from entry-level to sophisticated security and threat mitigation professionals.
While exact skills and certifications required for specific occupations vary widely, the California Employment Development Department has published some general information about what most of the regular job requirements for cybersecurity analyst jobs are.
- Protect secret information, encrypt data flows and construct and maintain firewalls.
- Create strategies and technologies to safeguard computer data and files from unintentional destruction or modification by malware or other attack vectors.
- Prepare contingency plans and procedures for dealing with data breaches and attacks.
- Keep up with the latest attack vectors and devise strategies to counter them.
- Protect networks and business data, keep an eye on computer software and current user status.
- Develop and conduct frequent risk assessments to ensure compliance with security best practices.
- Conduct regular meetings and train other users on security dangers and how network and data users can strengthen their personal and team information security.
Security analysts outlook
Security experts will continue to be in high demand as the digital transformation of enterprises and sectors accelerates. Traditional cybersecurity analysts worked in specialized areas such as the military, finance and banking, and oil and gas industries, all of which are susceptible sections of the economy.
Consumer companies and daily brands, on the other hand, are now recruiting cybersecurity analysts to assist in the protection of their businesses and operations. The need for well-trained cybersecurity analysts is so great that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment opportunities for cybersecurity analysts will increase by 36% by 2024.
Job growth is expected to be significantly quicker than in other areas of the economy, and it is expected to continue for several years as more businesses and organizations invest in cybersecurity positions.
What is the average salary for a security analyst?
Aside from the allure of intriguing work, a rising number of career options and a diverse range of ways to prepare for these professions, becoming a security analyst can also lead to a high salary.
A security analyst’s median reported pay is $93,250. Throughout their careers, professionals with more competitive credentials such as relevant training, experience, and educational background will most likely earn more.