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Career Guides

Cybersecurity Analyst

Find out more about Cybersecurity, including what skills are needed, career paths in cybersecurity, how to become a Cybersecurity Analyst, and more.

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What Is a Cybersecurity Analyst?

Cybersecurity Analysts offer organizations protection from a range of criminal activity by employing processes and technologies to prevent, detect, manage and mitigate cyber threats. These cybersecurity measures are designed to protect and secure IT infrastructure including networks, hardware, and software.

A cybersecurity analyst will help protect a company and its infrastructure from:

  • Phishing, which often takes the form of fraudulent emails, calls, and other communications that aim to steal information including bank accounts, login information, and credit card numbers.
  • Malware or other malicious computer software can take forms including viruses, Trojans, or spyware.
  • Denial-of-service attacks where criminals try to overwhelm servers and a network with bogus traffic that locks out legitimate users.
  • SQL injections into an application’s database that give criminal actors access to sensitive data.

What Does a Cybersecurity Analyst Do?

Cybersecurity Analysts prepare for and respond to cyberattacks, planning, evaluating, and executing security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems from attacks or breaches.

A typical Cybersecurity Analyst job description includes finding and reporting on vulnerabilities and breaches, installing encryption and firewall tools, educating stakeholders on the importance of security, and even sometimes simulating attacks to evaluate the performance of a system.

Though the day-to-day tasks will vary by job description and industry, most cybersecurity professionals will be responsible for:

  • Monitoring network security to stay on top of security flaws or breaches
  • Managing and updating security software including encryptions and firewalls, while making sure that other software is being used in a secure way
  • Identify flaws and vulnerabilities through thorough testing, simulated attacks, and risk analysis evaluations
  • Evaluating company performance against industry standards and regulations
  • Developing plans and reporting finds of internal and external audits and assessments
  • Creating backups in event that the company is attacked
  • Educating stakeholders and employees on both how to stay vigilant against possible cyber threats and also the overall importance of cybersecurity
  • Researching emerging trends in cyber attacks and cybersecurity

Find out more about what a Cybersecurity Analyst does. Link to What does a cybersecurity analyst do?

Types of Cybersecurity

When we discuss cybersecurity, we mainly talk about the following five types:

  • Critical Infrastructure Security. This area of cybersecurity includes the physical systems crucial to a business and society generally, including traffic lights, hospitals, and the hardware that comprises your workstations, servers, and network. Once any of this hardware is connected to the Internet, it becomes susceptible to cyber attacks.

  • Network Security. This concerns protecting against unauthorized outside access as well as any possible malicious insiders. To ensure network security, systems are often employed that can slow productivity, including firewalls, virtual private networks (VPN), or two-factor authentication.

  • Cloud Security. The rising popularity of the cloud has led to a new spate of security concerns. The constant data breaches regularly arising in the news are a testament to the importance of companies focusing energy on protecting their cloud infrastructure and the data stored there.

  • Internet-of-things Security. IoT devices – think wireless home security cams, TVs, appliances, or anything physical that relies on an Internet connection – typically ship in an insecure state, which carries a significant threat for people, businesses, and society more generally.

  • Mobile and App Security. Security flaws in smartphones or the apps they contain can give a malicious actor access to a user’s location, banking info, and virtually any other detail of their life.

Read more about the types of cybersecurity. Link to What are the types of cybersecurity?

Benefits of Cybersecurity

There are many benefits to seriously investing in cybersecurity – and a steep potential cost if cybersecurity isn’t taken seriously enough. Here are just a few of the benefits that cybersecurity can bring to a business:

  • Protect against malicious actors. Good cybersecurity can provide a comprehensive sense of protection from cyber attacks that could compromise the safety of your customers and employees.

  • Improve productivity. Employees can work efficiently on computer equipment that runs free of viruses, Adware and Ransomware.

  • Boost customer confidence. Your clients and customer base won’t have to worry about providing their sensitive personal information to sign up for an account or place orders with your company.

  • Stay online. A security vulnerability could lead to temporary – or worse – outages that could cost a fortune in lost business.

  • Prevent public-relations disasters. Some companies get hacked to embarrassing effect, while others never see their reputations recover after being insufficiently careful with customer info.

Cybersecurity Analyst Salaries

Though the numbers vary, the average Cyber Security Analyst salary in the U.S.is above $90,000 according to Indeed and ZipRecruiter. Although the details vary greatly depending on the company and location, the majority of Cyber Security Analyst jobs pay between $80,000 at the entry level and $117,000 for a more seasoned cybersecurity analyst, ZipRecruiter found.

Demand for a Cybersecurity Analyst

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts cybersecurity jobs will grow 31 percent through 2029 – that’s more than seven times faster than the national average job growth.

Burning Glass, a leading labor market analytics firm, has been tracking demand for cybersecurity skills based on its database of more than one billion current and historical job postings. Their research showed a massive gap between supply and demand for cybersecurity professionals – with under 1 million employed in the workforce, there were another 500,000-plus open positions.

What Tools Do Cybersecurity Analysts Use?

Cybersecurity Analysts need to use dozens of tools daily to keep security and information systems and networks safe and up to date, and those cybersecurity tools can generally be broken down into the following categories:

  • Network Security Monitoring tools. To assist in securing and monitoring their networks, cybersecurity analysts use tools including Argus, Nagios, P0f, and Splunk. Firewall tools. Top firewall security management suites include Tufin, AlgoSec, FireMon, and RedSeal.

  • Encryption tools. To protect data from malicious users, popular encryption tools include VeraCrypt, AxCrypt, and NordLocker.

  • Web vulnerability scanning tools. Automated tools that scan web applications for security vulnerabilities including cross-site scripting, SQL injection, and path traversal, popular examples include SQLMap and Nikto.

  • PKI services tools. PKI software service is often associated with SSL or TLS. SSL is also extremely important for both security public sites and internal networks.

  • Network defense wireless tools. Network defense wireless cybersecurity tools protect the usability and integrity of data as well as the network. Effective network security manages access to the network stops threats from entering a business network.

  • Managed detection services. These analyze and proactively detect and eventually eliminate cyber threats. Alerts are investigated to determine if any action is required.

  • Penetration testing. An authorized simulated attack on your system, penetration testing can be carried out using popular tools including Netsparker, Wireshark, and Metasploit.

  • Antivirus software. To sniff out viruses and other harmful malware, many opt to use tools like Bitdefender Antivirus, Norton ANtiVirus, and Kaspersky Anti-Virus.

  • Network Intrusion Detection. To monitor a network for any activity that might require further investigation, cybersecurity professionals use such tools as SolarWinds Security Event Manager, Kismet, and Zeek.

  • Packet sniffers. These work by examining and logging streams of data packets that flow between computers on a network. Tools include Wireshark, Winduimp, and Tcpdump.

Main article: What tools do Cybersecurity Analysts use?

What Skills Do Cybersecurity Analysts Need?

Despite the wide variance in job responsibilities across different cybersecurity roles in different industries, studies have shown that certain skills are universally essential for cybersecurity professionals while other skills are in high demand.

A recent study from labor market analytics firm Burning Glass showed that application development security and cloud security skills were the most in-demand for cybersecurity professionals, with five-year projected growth rates of 164 and 115 percent respectively. Those skills were also lucrative, each coming with a $12,000-15,000 average salary premium. Risk management skills were next with a 60 percent expected growth rate and a $13,000 cybersecurity analyst salary premium.

Other skills that cybersecurity and security analysts need include:

  • Programming languages. While it isn’t a must for most cybersecurity jobs, it’s definitely helpful to know C and C++, Python, JavaScript, PHP, and SQL.

  • Threat intelligence. This is evidence-based knowledge about existing or emerging threats to assets.

  • Incident response. Some specialize in creating an organized approach to addressing and managing the aftermath of an attack or security breaches.

Cybersecurity Analyst Career path

Cybersecurity analyst career paths can vary greatly depending on a person’s interests and industry, but there are certain trends that seem to be common to most who become cybersecurity professionals.

Those who are beginning a career in cybersecurity might have a job title like Systems Administrator, Network Engineer, or Network Administrator.

A few years into a cybersecurity career you could be ready qualified for a Cyber Security Analyst job. Other mid-level titles include Penetration Tester, Information Security Analyst, and IT Auditor.

More seasoned cybersecurity professionals might then be considered for lucrative roles within information technology including Cybersecurity Engineer, Cybersecurity Manager, or Chief Information Security Officer.

Common Cybersecurity Jobs

Here are some common job titles for security analysts and those working with cybersecurity:

  • Cybersecurity Analyst
  • Cybersecurity Specialist
  • Security Systems Administrator
  • Chief Information Security Officer
  • Forensic Computer Analyst
  • Penetration Tester
  • Security Architect
  • Security Manager
  • Information Security Analysts
  • Security Engineer
  • Cryptographer
  • Security Consultant
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