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What is a cyber security analyst?
A cyber security analyst, also known as an information security analyst, protects a company’s private data. This involves using policies, software updates, and hardware changes to protect business networks and systems.
If you are interested in becoming a cyber security analyst, it’s important to understand precisely what the role entails and the type of work you will be expected to carry out.
So read on, and let’s see if becoming a cyber security analyst is right for you.
What does a cyber security analyst do?
As mentioned, a cyber security analyst safeguards a company’s networks and systems.
This might mean taking simple measures, such as installing firewalls and updating plugins; or it might mean writing complex scripts that will be executed via cloud servers. The complexity of the work required will depend on the nature of the company and the type of products/services provided. It will also depend on whether the cyber security analyst is working solo, or as part of a team.
As well as performing basic maintenance tasks, a cyber security analyst works proactively to anticipate potential security breaches. To do this, they will often attempt to infiltrate the company’s security measures as though they had malicious intent. This is “penetration testing” or “pentesting.” Similarly, a “red team, blue team” simulation casts one team of analysts as hackers and another as the security team. These exercises can then be used to recommend improved security measures.
In other scenarios, the cyber security analyst may be responsible for implementing the security measures as part of a new system. For example, if a company launches a new website, the security analyst will need to ensure it is as secure as possible.
Analysts also conduct analyses of attempted and successful breaches.
Measures that a cyber security analyst may implement
As mentioned, the scope of the business will dictate the type of work a security analyst is required to perform. SaaS (Software As a Service) companies, for example, work with large amounts of customer data that must be passed to and from a server. This creates many potential opportunities for data theft – or an “increased attack surface.”
This also means that cyber security analyst will need to work with cloud platforms, encryption, SQL, and other advanced topics. This is where advanced certification and experience may be required.
Not all cyber security involves coding or updating servers, however. The role can also include training staff to use better passwords or considering other issues: such as outdated firmware on physical CCTV systems. Many hackers rely on more “human” methods such as conducting phishing scams or guessing passwords.
In some cases, a security analyst may be called upon to perform more general “IT support” roles.
Pay, skills, and qualifications
A college degree in a technical field such as cyber security, computer science, or data science is extremely useful when applying for cyber security analyst jobs. Many employers will not consider applicants that don’t hold at least a Batchelor’s degree.
However, there is no set path to becoming a cyber security analyst and it is possible (though more difficult) to land a job without a degree. Many analysts report that they were able to find work without formal qualifications.
What can help a great deal, regardless of your previous education, is professional certification. There are a number of industry-recognized certificates pertaining to general and specific aspects of cyber security.
These include Pentest+, CYSA+, CISSP, and more. Attaining certification usually requires the applicant to sit an exam and will typically cost a few hundred dollars. This can prove to be a very smart investment for a budding security expert!
Before sitting these certifications though, be sure to check out our guide to the best cyber security courses, where you can also get access to some huge savings.
Just as important, however, is your level of experience. Look for volunteer work, or consider applying to jobs that have more basic requirements. That way, you can gain experience “on the job” that will round out your resume. Applying to general “IT” roles can offer a great way to get a foot in the door.
Who should become a cyber security analyst?
Cyber security analyst may be a great role for you if you are computer literate, enjoy creative problem solving, and want a job that will remain in high demand for the coming years. That said, applicants should also be systems-minded and comfortable with a high degree of responsibility. Cyber security specialists should also be willing to learn continuously, as new tools and systems are constantly being introduced and implemented. They should also be comfortable with more mundane aspects of the job: such as training staff, or updating software.
The average salary of a cyber security specialist in the US is around $80,000.
According to Indeed.com, the average salary of a cyber security specialist in the US is around $80,000, with an additional annual $5,000 cash bonus!
Data is likely to play an increasingly critical role in the way we do business. The market is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 10% between 2020 and 2027.
So, while it may take some time to acquire the skills and experience necessary to become a cyber security analyst in a big firm, there will likely be a lucrative career waiting for you when you get there!