How to Become a Cybersecurity Analyst
What Tools Do Cybersecurity Analysts Use?
Cybersecurity Analysts use a variety of tools in their jobs, which can be organized into a few categories: network security monitoring, encryption, web vulnerability, penetration testing, antivirus software, network intrusion detection, and packet sniffers.
Network Security Monitoring Tools
These tools are used to analyze network data and detect network-based threats. Examples of tools include Argus, Nagios, Splunk, and OSSEC.
Encryption protects data by scrambling text so that it is unreadable to unauthorized users. Examples of tools include Tor, KeePass, and TrueCrypt.
Web Vulnerability Scanning Tools
These software programs scan web applications to identify security vulnerabilities. Examples of tools include Burp Suite, Nikto, Paros Proxy, and SQLMap.
Penetration testing, also known as “pen test”, simulates an attack on a computer system in order to evaluate the security of that system. Examples of tools include Metasploit, Kali Linux, and Wireshark.
This software is designed to find viruses and other malware, including ransomware, worms, spyware, adware, and Trojans. Examples of tools include Norton 360 and McAfee Total Protection.
Network Intrusion Detection
An Intrusion Detection System (IDS) monitors network and system traffic for unusual or suspicious activity and notifies the administrator if a potential threat is detected. Examples of tools include Snort, Security Onion, SolarWinds Security Event Manager, and Zeek.
A packet sniffer, also called a packet analyzer, protocol analyzer or network analyzer, is used to intercept, log, and analyze network traffic and data. Examples of tools include Wireshark, Tcpdump, and Windump.
What Programming Languages Are Used for Cybersecurity?
C and C++
The C programming language has been used in the development of some of the most popular operating systems, such as Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows. C and C++ provide access to low-level IT infrastructure, such as RAM and system processes. Hackers can easily exploit these lower level operations if they are not properly protected.
Python is one of the most popular programming languages for cybersecurity because of its ease and functionality. It is used to develop both web-based and software-based applications. Cybersecurity professionals use Python to develop analysis tools and hacking scripts, as well as to design secure programs.
PHP is used on the server-side to develop websites. Because most websites are created using PHP, learning this language will be helpful for cybersecurity jobs that focus on protecting websites.
Structured Query Language (SQL) is primarily used in the design and management of databases and is widely used to maintain and retrieve data. Knowledge of SQL is particularly helpful to prevent SQL injections, a type of cyber attack where the attacker manipulates SQL statements to steal or modify information.
Can I Teach Myself Cybersecurity?
Many cybersecurity experts are self-taught or have gained skills through training programs and certifications. While some cybersecurity jobs require a degree in cybersecurity, programming, information systems or a related field, these are not mandatory, nor are they a guaranteed way to secure a cybersecurity job.
Jobs within cybersecurity vary. Some don’t require extensive technical training or programming knowledge. Rather, it is more important to understand the fundamentals of information technology systems and networks, and to get hands-on experience with cybersecurity tasks.
After you have grasped the fundamentals of cybersecurity, it can be useful to gain skills that can help further your career, such as coding. Certifications are also a great way to update your skills and teach yourself about specific areas of cybersecurity.
Do I Need to Know Coding for Cybersecurity?
You do not need to know coding for most entry-level jobs in cybersecurity. It can, however, help to advance your career in the field. For higher-level job opportunities, coding may be an asset or a requirement.
As a Cybersecurity Analyst, you are looking for vulnerabilities, which involves a thorough understanding of systems, networks, and security standards. Coding can often be left to dedicated programmers. But as you gain more cybersecurity experience, you may find it useful to understand the fundamentals of coding.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Cybersecurity?
You can learn the fundamentals of cybersecurity in as little as 12 weeks. However, it may take anywhere from two to four years to develop the skills, knowledge, and experience to really excel in cybersecurity. However, this is also dependent on your education and experience.
There are various paths to a career in cybersecurity. For those in a formal degree program, it can take two years to earn an associate’s degree in cybersecurity and four years for a bachelor’s. A cybersecurity degree is not mandatory, however, so alternative training, education, and certification can also be done in the same amount of time.
A cybersecurity certificate is an increasingly popular way to fasttrack skills development and accelerate a career in cybersecurity. They show employers that you are knowledgeable about the threat landscape and cybersecurity best practices, and have trained in specific areas.
Aim to earn a new certification every 6 months. A few popular certifications include Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), CompTIA Security+, Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) and Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH).
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