How To Become A Security Analyst: A Complete Career Guide
A security analyst is a pretty broad job description that refers to people responsible for monitoring computer infrastructure and information networks to ensure the are protected.
The job responsibilities for a security analyst can range from controlling file access and credentialing, to maintaining firewalls and network updates, to proactively trying to hack systems to look for vulnerabilities and weaknesses.
What Does An Information Security Analyst Do
The main part of their job is to protect the company from cybercrimes. The amount of online crime is rising with phishing, malware, and trojan horse attacks becoming commonplace. For companies working in sensitive industries, protecting their assets and blueprints can be a serious matter, with criminals charging multi-million dollar ransoms. Prevention is the best step, and the day-to-day of an information security analyst will look a little something like this:
- Security: Every computer system needs to be protected. An information security analyst will ensure that the correct security software, firewalls, and encryption programs are installed and up-to-date on all systems. Furthermore, theyll train IT staff and computer users on the best procedures to avoid being attacked in the first place.
- Testing: Even the tightest of security systems can be breached. So a good information security analyst will work to plug thoseoften by acting as a cybercriminal. By simulating cyberattacks on their organizations IT system, they can see what vulnerabilities exist and fix them before theyre exploited in real life.
How To Gain It Skills
Here are a few ways to learn the skills that can contribute to a successful career in IT:
Teach yourself: Many programming languages, data analysis techniques, and certain IT skills can be self-taught through online courses or home projects. You can find several courses on Coursera, including introductory classes to Python or cybersecurity.
Certifications: Certifications can be a solid way to ensure your abilities meet professional standards. Youâll generally have to study for and pass an exam. See what entry-level certification fits your interests.
Bootcamps: Generally lasting several weeks or months, bootcamps are intensive courses that are designed to bring you specific skills in that time period. Though coding bootcamps are popular, bootcamps exist for topics like cybersecurity as well.
Degrees: Though perhaps more time-consuming than the other options, getting a degree in computer science or a related field can be a structured way to gain the technical skills needed to enter the computer world. Plus, going back to school is correlated with higher incomes.
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What Is An Information Security Analyst
Information Security Analysts are responsible for creating security systems to ensure the information stored on a company’s network is inaccessible to cyber attacks. They contribute to creating safety regulations and see to it that safety standards are maintained. As an information security analyst, your job will be to monitor computer networks, install security software, and create documentation of any potential risks to security you detect. Your job will be to inform your colleagues on up to date security processes and perform tests to make sure networks and data are sufficiently protected. Firewalls, antivirus scanning, proxies, and intrusion detection systems will be your best friends on the job. You will need a degree in computer science or a related field and previous experience on the job to land this position.
Information Security Analyst Job Requirements
To become an Information Security Analyst, you usually need a bachelors degree in information technology, computer science, or a related field and two to five years of experience. Its also helpful to have some project management experience and know-how to program. Because security is such a large part of the IT field, its helpful if you have certifications in security systems and threat management.
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Key Hard Skills For Information Security Analysts
Software and Technology
Important tools for information security analysts include various databases along with software for development, programming, network monitoring, and virus protection. Security analysts need to know industry-standard programs like Blackboard, Apache Ant, Symantec, and Django.
A solid understanding of computer science principles should underpin security analysts’ work. They regularly deal with both hardware and software systems. They must also write code to prevent and respond to cyberattacks.
Engineering and Electronics
Information security analysts need to understand how their organizations use technology. They need a strong working knowledge of how technology and networks function so they can solve problems effectively.
Often leading IT teams, information security analysts need good administration skills. They must develop, present, and monitor plans and protocols. They may also oversee departmental budgets.
Pursue An Ms In Cybersecurity For Advancement
Although it does take years of on-the-job experience to work up to becoming an information security analyst, it may be faster with an advanced degree like a Masters in Cybersecurity. A program such as this typically merges academic coursework with practical work experience in a business environment. This experience component not only helps refine skills associated with cybersecurity, but also helps to gain insight into the business side of the profession. Exposure may include real-world case studies and analysis of the legal ramifications of the profession.
An advanced curriculum in cybersecurity also usually helps strengthen skills relevant to adjacent subject areas, such as computer engineering and business. This can provide a more well-rounded and holistic approach to the information security analyst position, which, along with relevant work experience, may help graduates be considered for higher level positions or advancement.
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Forensic Analysis And Incident Response
Even the best-protected businesses have occasional breaches.
For those in forensic analysis and incident response units, work starts after the worst has already occurred. These professionals analyze adverse security events to determine how a breach occurred and what needs to be done to eliminate the vulnerability.
Depending on the issue at hand, forensics specialists are also trained in how to collect evidence to be used in formal trials.
Information Security Analyst Job Duties
Information Security analysts conduct risk assessments and help create plans to reduce the number of security risks. They also monitor potential hacking attempts, network intrusions, and other information technology-related issues. They evaluate new technology and systems for security vulnerabilities. Analysts often recommend new solutions or make changes to existing systems to improve security.
The following are additional job duties for an information security analyst:
- Assess the effectiveness of computer and network security controls in place at an organization, such as firewalls, antivirus software, intrusion detection systems, and passwords.
- Research, test, and implement new security controls as necessary to keep up with new threats or vulnerabilities. These include hardware devices that help monitor network activity for intrusion attempts or unauthorized access.
Some examples of these tools are:
- Intrusion Detection Systems
- Content Filtering Software
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Become A Leader And Get An Advanced Degree
After information security analysts get more comfortable in the role and in the field, it may be time to consider other kinds of advancement opportunities. Importantly, many of the higher end cybersecurity and information security positions will require that applicants and candidates have a Masters degree to be considered. To that end, its recommended for those driven to advance their careers into leadership positions and at larger private and public organizations to pursue graduate-level study.
Fortunately, there are several Masters level data science and cybersecurity degrees to help motivated candidates reach the next level of their careers. In these kinds of programs, which can be completed part- or full-time and can be taken in increasingly online formats, students will have the opportunity to dive deeper into the foundational and mechanical tenets of data security. By grappling with greater nuances of programming languages and problem-solving scenarios, graduates will be able to showcase an advanced level of cybersecurity and data science skills that will speak directly to prospective employers.
Think About What Kind Of Work Appeals To You
You want to protect businesses from cybercrime but where do you even start?
Before you can begin plotting your cybersecurity career path, you need to understand what working in the field entails and how you hope to specialize. After all, the industry is vast according to the 2018 Aust Cyber Report, the global cybersecurity market is worth roughly $145 billion. It is on track to increase 86 percent to $270 billion by 2026, far outstripping other industries.
This fast-paced growth isnt all that surprising. As systems have become more sophisticated, hackers have redoubled their efforts to reveal vulnerabilities and expose lucrative personal information such as credit card numbers, financial records, and healthcare data.
In the third quarter of 2019, the RiskBased Data Breach Quick View Report noted the occurrence of 5,183 separate data breaches which exposed 7.9 billion records globally. This constitutes a 33.3 percent uptick in total breaches and a more than doubling of exposed records over the previous year.
These numbers illustrate why cybersecurity is such a high priority companies of all sizes and industries need to protect themselves from expensive and confidence-shattering exposure.
As this data demonstrates, being a cybersecurity specialist doesnt limit you to one job description. There are countless roles in the job market so many, in fact, that you may need to limit yourself to a few chosen specialties.
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Practice In Real And Simulated Environments
Many companies want to hire penetration testers with previous experience. Luckily, there are ways to start gaining experience outside of the workplace. Many pen testing training programs include hands-on testing in simulated environments.
Another way to gain experience is to participate in bug bounty programs. In these programs, companies typically offer cash bonuses to independent pen testers and security researchers who find and report security flaws or bugs in their code. Itâs an excellent way to test your skills and start networking with other security professionals. You can find a list of bounties on sites like Bugcrowd and HackerOne.
Finally, youâll find several websites designed to allow penetration testers to practice and experiment through fun, gamified experiences legally. Here are a few to get you started:
Key Hard Skills For Security Analysts
Security analysts need expertise in diverse systems and networks. They need broad knowledge of various elements of network systems, along with how each element can impact security.
A working knowledge of computer scripts, like Python or C++, benefits security analysts. This knowledge allows professionals to understand encoded threats and rewrite software.
Security analysts must understand hacking processes to block and prevent cyberattacks. Ethical hacking certifications help prepare analysts to understand threats and protect systems.
Analysts must be able to work on all types of operating systems and platforms, including iOS, Windows, and Linux.
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Career Paths In Cyber Security
As you gain experience and develop a more thorough understanding of cyber security principles and skills, you may find yourself in a position to pursue more advanced roles in the industry. Weve listed a few potential cyber security career paths below. Keep in mind that the following pathways each come with their own challenges, requirements, and opportunities.
What Can You Expect In An Information Security Analyst Career
Information Security Analysts are the people who make sure a companys data is protected. They work with software and hardware to help secure everyone elses information as well as their own.
As an Information Security Analyst, youll be part of a team that protects against threats from both inside and outside. In order to keep up with the rate of cyber attacks, youll need to be flexible and adapt to the latest technological changes. You might be responsible for creating incident response plans to deal with security breaches, protecting against malware, identifying risks and vulnerabilities, monitoring networks, assessing risk levels, and more.
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Information Security Analyst Career Path
As the world becomes more digital, it has become increasingly important to keep data safe from hackers. A career as an Information Security Analyst is a great way to make sure that no one can access your companys information and steal its secrets.
Information Security Analysts are responsible for developing security plans and maintaining systems that protect sensitive or confidential information. They also help design and implement policies on how employees should handle sensitive data in their day-to-day work. If youre interested in helping to build a safer online world, this might be the perfect job for you!
Want to learn more about becoming an Information Security Analyst? This article will give you all of the details on what it takes to succeed in this exciting field!
Top Colleges For Cyber Security Analysts
1. California State University – Bakersfield
Bakersfield, CA Private
3. San Diego State University
San Diego, CA Private
8. SUNY College at Plattsburgh
Plattsburgh, NY Private
9. George Washington University, The
Washington, DC Private
10. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC Private
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Cism: Certified Information Security Manager
This is a certificate aimed at IT professionals who oversee information system security. A CISM is well-versed in the best practices of auditing, controlling, and securing these systems. This certification is designed for established security professionals. Generally, those who apply for CISM certification require at least five years of experience and a written application.
History Of Cybersecurity Analysts
The need to protect computers began before the creation of the internet, during the 1960s. Organizations began using passwords to protect their computers from others that might be able to use the machines.
In the 1970s, after the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network , Bob Thomas, a researcher, created a small program that was able to travel through a network while leaving a trail. He named the program CREEPER.
The inventor of email, Ray Tomlinson, upgraded CREEPER to be self-replicating. This created the first worm and the first instance of a virus. To heal the system, Tomlinson then made a program to hunt and delete CREEPER. He named it REAPER, now known as the first antivirus software.
Thomas and Tomlinson’s work revealed weaknesses within the ARPANET, and similar systems. Many companies and governments at the time were creating networks by linking their computers via telephone lines. Protecting these networks became a priority.
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Is Cybersecurity A Growing Field
Cybersecurity is one of the fastest-growing fields. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that demand for Information Security Analysts will grow 28 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is roughly an increase of 28,500 jobs.
Projected growth in demand for Information Security Analysts from 2016 to 2026.
In a study by Enterprise Strategy Group and the Information Systems Security Association, 70 percent of cybersecurity professionals report that their organization has a cybersecurity skills shortage. As the need for cybersecurity grows, companies are focused on finding people with the right skills.
Cybercrime is becoming more common, and no organization or individual that uses online systems is immune to attacks. The results can be devastating data breaches have resulted in the loss of millions of dollars.
Organizations are seeing high-profile companies fall victim to cyber-attacks, so the demand for cybersecurity professionals is now at an all-time high.
Start Your Journey As An Information Security Analyst Today
Those who are interested in how to become an information security analyst and are willing to pursue the necessary steps to get there may find they are entering a robust field. This role has become much more crucial in recent years thanks to the growing importance of electronic business data and the need to keep it secure. Visit Maryville Universitys online Bachelors of Science in Management Information Systems program to learn more about how this degree can lead to one of the most intriguing and vital careers in business.
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What Do Information Security Analysts Do Common Roles And Responsibilities
The information security analyst job description covers a lot of ground, but at its core, the roles title refers to the act of securing confidential, sensitive, and proprietary information. Analysts protect organizations not only from hacking attempts but also from threats such as phishing, malware, and ransomware. Prevention plays a critical role in information security. Analysts continue to develop stronger and more stable frameworks to protect an organizations data, and this involves daily analysis for threats and suspicious activity.
Beyond their focus on potential hacking threats, analysts test their own networks to identify vulnerabilities, and they also encrypt sensitive information while developing procedures to maintain an organizations digital security plan.
Other common responsibilities of information security analysts include:
- Simulating attacks to identify network vulnerabilities
- Developing and maintaining firewall software
- Monitoring networks and reporting on system breaches
- Instructing employees on how to be safe with their information
Best States For A Cyber Security Analyst
Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a cyber security analyst. The best states for people in this position are Oregon, California, Nevada, and Washington. Cyber security analysts make the most in Oregon with an average salary of $101,353. Whereas in California and Nevada, they would average $99,706 and $94,512, respectively. While cyber security analysts would only make an average of $94,427 in Washington, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.
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