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 security measures, and, in the event of a breach, implementing a recovery plan.
5 Key Responsibilities of a Cybersecurity Analyst
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics has in recent years described the job responsibilities of security 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.
Is cybersecurity the right career for you?
According to Cybersecurity Ventures, the cybersecurity industry is expected to have 3.5 million high-paying, unfilled jobs this year. With Springboard’s comprehensive Cyber Security Career Track, you’ll work 1:1 with an industry-mentor to learn key aspects of information technology, security software, security auditing, and finding and fixing malicious code. Learning units include subject-expert approved resources, application-based mini-projects, hands-on labs, and career-search related coursework.
The course will culminate in a multi-part capstone project that you can highlight on your resume for prospective employers or use to demonstrate your technical knowledge in your job interview. The learning materials will also help prepare you to pass the globally-recognized CompTIA Security+ certification so you stand out when applying for cybersecurity roles.
Learn more about Springboard’s Cyber Security Career Track here.