What Are the Responsibilities of a Cybersecurity Analyst?
Cybersecurity analysts, also known as information security analysts, use a variety of techniques, technology, and resources to protect sensitive data. We explore some of the main aspects of security analyst responsibilities in this article.
A cybersecurity analyst is an organization’s frontline defense against cyber attacks and security breaches. As more and more sectors, from financial institutions to the healthcare industry, move their information systems online, security analysts are in high demand and play a vital role in assessing cyber threats, installing cybersecurity measures, and, in the event of a breach, implementing a recovery plan.
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5 Key Responsibilities of a Cybersecurity Analyst
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics has in recent years described the job responsibilities of cybersecurity analysts as constantly evolving and expanding, a security analyst’s duties and responsibilities generally fall into five categories.
- Breach prevention. Security analysts stop data attacks before they happen. Using best practices such as deploying firewalls and data encryption programs, using new software, and resolving existing security issues, they bolster an organization’s security systems to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information. They also monitor an organization’s information networks and data transmissions to catch suspicious activity before it balloons into a security threat.
- Ethical hacking. Security analysts with computer science backgrounds proactively search for weaknesses in an organization’s computer networks. By preemptively “hacking” secure networks, they can get ahead of potential threats and address shortcomings in system security. Many organizations have “bug bounty programs,” where white hat hackers (i.e. well-intentioned hackers who are working for the organization) are compensated for identifying and reporting bugs or security flaws so that the organization can resolve those issues before bad players are able to exploit them.
- Incident response. When a cyber-attack has already occurred, a security analyst will identify the cause of the security breach and ensure that it doesn’t happen again. In this role, security analysts are like detectives, piecing together critical information to understand how the breach occurred, what the hacker was able to access, what kind of recovery plan must be implemented to ensure that malicious players are no longer in the system, and the innovative solutions needed to prevent future breaches. Many cybersecurity experts who specialize in incident response will also use computer forensics to trace the digital footprints of hackers to determine their movements within an organization’s systems and stop them in their tracks.
- Hacker hunt. Geared toward the detail-oriented, security analysts pay careful attention to suspicious activity and behavioral anomalies, performing risk assessments and risk management so they can address security threats before they turn into security breaches. In addition to analyzing threats and reverse engineering malware, security analysts also assess an organization’s specific vulnerabilities and risk exposure—they know what hackers want and preemptively figure out how malicious players might try to access an organization’s valuable assets.
- Compliance. Working with chief information officers and other security professionals, security analysts ensure that their organization is compliant with government and industry security standards through research, education, and collaboration. Strong communication skills are key in this function as analysts determine what regulations affect their organization, manage security improvements across business processes, and raise security awareness. In this role, security analysts have a birds-eye view of a company’s overall security posture and can lead an organization toward stronger security practices and data protection.
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