HOW TO BECOME A CYBERSECURITY ANALYST (2023 Guide)
BrainStation’s Cybersecurity Analyst career guide is your first step toward a career in the field. Find out what tools Cybersecurity Analysts most commonly use.
Become a Cybersecurity Analyst
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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, Pof, Splunk, and OSSEC.
Encryption protects data by scrambling text so that it is unreadable to unauthorized users. Examples of tools include Tor, KeePass, VeraCrypt, NordLocker, AxCrypt, and TrueCrypt.
Web vulnerability scanning tools
These software programs scan web applications to identify security vulnerabilities including cross-site scripting, SQL injection, and path traversal. 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 penetration testing tools include Metasploit, Kali Linux, Netsparker, and Wireshark.
This software is designed to find viruses and other harmful malware, including ransomware, worms, spyware, adware, and Trojans. Examples of tools include Norton 360, Bitdefender Antivirus, Norton AntiVirus, Kapersky Anti-Virus, 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, Kismet, 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.
Top firewall security management suites include Tufin, AlgoSec, FireMon, and RedSeal.
Managed detection services
Managed detection services analyze and proactively detect and eventually eliminate cyber threats. Alerts are investigated to determine if any action is required.
Whether you are a Cybersecurity Analyst responsible for the internet security of a large company or just a regular person looking to ensure the integrity of your own sensitive data and mobile devices, employing the right cybersecurity software is a crucial part of any cybersecurity strategy.
Given the increasing importance of cybersecurity, it is hardly surprising that there are countless cybersecurity software solutions and tools out there promising to defend companies and individuals from a whole host of possible online threats.
Some cybersecurity tools offer a holistic security suite with coverage against a whole host of security vulnerabilities and threats, while other security solutions focus specifically on areas including network security, endpoint security, threat intelligence, firewall protection, intrusion detection systems, malware protection, vulnerability management, external attack surface management, and much more.
- Cybersecurity Monitoring Tools
- Packet Sniffer Software
- Network Security Monitoring Software
- Vulnerability Assessment Software
- Network Intrusion Detection Software
- Employee Monitoring Software
- Encryption Software
- Personal Cybersecurity Software
13 Best Cybersecurity Software
Keeping in mind the full range of responsibilities of modern security teams, these are the 13 best cybersecurity software and tools:
- SolarWinds Security Event Manager
- Heimdal Security
- Nessus Professional
- Bitdefender Total Security
- TotalAV Cyber Security
- Norton LifeLock
Cybersecurity Monitoring Tools
SiteLock offers comprehensive website security to guard your site against malicious cyber threats, including web applications and your site code.
Depending on which paid plan you subscribe to — each offers a 30-day free trial — you can use SiteLock to conduct daily scans of your website for malware, viruses, and other security threats before taking advantage of the platform’s automatic malware removal feature.
- Vulnerability management
- Website scanning and backup
- Content delivery network enables high traffic with zero lag time
- Web application security
- Supports a variety of CMS environments including WordPress, Drupal, Magento, WooCommerce, and more
SolarWinds Security Event Manager
SolarWinds offers an exhaustive number of cybersecurity solutions to tackle a wide range of functions including network traffic security and analysis, database management, systems management, IT security and IT service management, application management, and much more.
Security Event Manager is the company’s lightweight and affordable cybersecurity tool, intuitive and straightforward enough that you can boost your computer security without costly and complex features you won’t necessarily need.
- Automated threat detection and response
- Centralized log collection
- Easy-to-use dashboard
- Built-in file integrity monitoring
- Compliance reporting
- Forensic analysis
- Cyberthreat intelligence
Heimdal offers a full suite of cybersecurity solutions. Businesses have the option to either pick and choose individual security products or invest in Heimdal’s Unified Threat Platform, which has the benefit of simplifying your IT operations and streamlining a number of cybersecurity operations, including endpoint protection, access management, and email security.
Heimdal also offers cyber threat prevention and antivirus software for personal home use.
- Remote desktop control
- Email fraud prevention
- Vulnerability assessment
- Ransomware encryption protection
- DNS filtering
- Administrative rights management
- Powerful analytics through Heimdal’s dashboard
Packet Sniffer Software
The world’s most popular network protocol analyzer, Wireshark gives you a microscopic view of your network activity.
Using Wireshark, you can inspect hundreds of protocols and browse your captured network data using a graphical user interface (GUI) or via the TTY (teletypewriter) mode TShark utility.
- Live capture and offline analysis
- Read and write in a variety of different capture file formats, including tcpdump (libpcap), Pcap NG, Catapult DCT2000, Cisco Secure IDS iplog, Microsoft Network Monitor, and many others
- Rich VoIP analysis
- Export output to XML, PostScript, CSV, or plain text
Network Security Monitoring Software
To monitor and ensure the integrity of your organization’s infrastructure, the Nagios IT management software suite is a flexible, customizable, and intuitive option.
Promising to help you detect and resolve any IT infrastructure problems before they affect business processes, the Nagios product line includes: Nagios XI, IT infrastructure monitoring software; Nagios Log Server for enterprise-class log monitoring; and Nagios Network Analyzer, a network flow data analysis solution.
- Monitoring of all critical infrastructure components including applications, network protocols, operating systems, and more
- Plan for infrastructure upgrades with automated, integrated trending and capacity planning graphs
- Outage alerts can be sent to IT staff, business stakeholders, and users
- Advanced features of the enterprise edition include web-based server console access, notification deployment, SLA reports, and automated host decommissioning
Vulnerability Assessment Software
Marketed as the global gold standard in vulnerability assessment, Nessus advertises the industry’s lowest false positive rate and the broadest vulnerability coverage of any security software.
With more than 450 pre-built templates, you can quickly and conveniently scan for vulnerabilities and audit configuration compliance against CIS benchmarks or other best practices. Ease of use is a big selling point of Nessus, with its intuitive navigation system and overall pleasing user experience.
- Unlimited assessments
- Can be deployed on a diverse number of platforms, including Raspberry Pi
- Dynamically compiled plug-ins make for faster and more efficient scans
- Customizable reporting capabilities
- Access to on-demand product training with more than 60 targeted videos
Network Intrusion Detection Software
A powerful tool for web app security, Acunetix will automatically generate a list of all your websites, applications, and APIs and crawl every corner of your applications to detect security flaws and vulnerabilities including SQL injections, misconfigurations, XSS, exposed databases, out-of-band vulnerabilities, and much more.
- Lightning-fast scans that automatically prioritize the highest-risk vulnerabilities
- Scan multiple environments simultaneously
- Remediation guidance
- On-premise or cloud deployment
Snort is an open-source intrusion prevention system that can be configured for business or personal use.
Snort works by using a set of rules to find packets that match against malicious network activity and generate alerts for users. In addition to its applications as a full-blown network intrusion prevention system, Snort can also be used as a packet sniffer like tcpdump or as a packet logger.
- Compatible with all types of operating systems and hardware
- Perform real-time traffic analysis
- Detect a variety of attacks and probes including buffer overflows, stealth port scans, CGI attacks, operating system fingerprinting attempts, and more
Employee Monitoring Software
Keeping track of employee activity and behaviour is an important part of keeping companies safe, and Teramind offers some of the top cybersecurity software for employee monitoring, user behavior analytics, and data loss prevention.
With three tiers of product offerings — each with a free trial — you can use Teramind to generate customizable reports on employee activity, identify and receive customizable alerts for employee behavior anomalies that could indicate potential threats, and ensure compliance for GDPR, HIPAA, PCI, and more by setting up alerts for any non-compliant actions.
- Teramind’s data loss prevention features include optical character recognition (OCR), fingerprinting, and content discovery to discover data exfiltration
- Prevent insider threats by automating risk detection and blocking any unwanted employee behavior
- Employee monitoring tools show individual level productivity, social media use, time spent on projects, and more
- Termind also offers security software for specific industries including healthcare, financial services, and government
For advanced encryption presented in a straightforward way, AxCrypt has served customers around the world for 20-plus years.
With plans tailored both for private users and organizations, AxCrypt provides file security with 128-bit or 256-bit encryption as well as cloud storage awareness and key sharing features that will help companies comply with data protection rules and regulations while also keeping your files safe from costly data breaches.
- Doesn’t require encryption knowledge
- Mobile encryption, allowing you to encrypt and decrypt files from your mobile devices (including Android phones, iPhones, and tablets)
- Manage and access your passwords
- Encourage team collaboration by allowing AxCrypt users to access secure files with a password
Personal Cybersecurity Software
Bitdefender Total Security
Balancing strong protection with low overall impact on performance, Bitdefender Total Security provides malware protection against cyber threats across all major operating systems, promising that one product will protect up to five devices (depending on which plan you subscribe to) without slowing them down.
- Real-time protection against critical data theft
- Network threat intelligence and prevention
- Advanced threat defense
- Multi-layer ransomware protection
- Advanced parental control
TotalAV Cyber Security
Software intended to make your personal computer more secure can sometimes also make it less efficient and pleasant to use. TotalAV’s suite of personal cybersecurity software offers the typical antivirus and ransomware protection, while also actually improving your browsing experience by allowing you to block ads, disable notifications, and access geo-restricted websites and content.
- Real-time protection against viruses and security threats
- Set up scheduled smart scans to ensure your system and data are safe
- Monitor your personal email accounts for data breaches
- Generate secure passwords for all your online account and quickly save the login details across multiple browsers with the TotalAV Password Vault
With more and more companies storing more of our personal data than ever, the potential for a large-scale data breach has never been higher — and neither has the risk of identity theft.
LifeLock offers comprehensive protection against identity theft by monitoring against easy-to-miss identity threats (like payday loans or crimes committed in your name) as well as identity restoration services and $1 million coverage for lawyers and other experts if identity theft does occur while you are a member.
- Identity and social security number alerts
- Phone takeover monitoring
- Alerts on crimes committed in your name
- Credit reports and scores
- Home title monitoring
- Social media monitoring
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. Python is used for developing 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. Learning 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 to code for most entry-level jobs in cybersecurity. Learning how to code 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 fast-track 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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