What Does A Cyber Security Analyst Do?

Cybersecurity analysts are the professional defenders of computer systems. They serve various industries by planning and implementing security protocols to protect organizations from the growing, constant issue of hackers and other cyber threats. Cybersecurity analysts enjoy lucrative careers with ample advancement opportunities, though the profession can be demanding. From learning how to anticipate cyber attacks to designing security systems engineered to defend against known threats, cyber security analysts are responsible for the safety of their users- giving their work significant weight.

What Does Cyber Security Entail?

Cyber security is the task of defending an organization from assorted cyber attacks, including data breaches and many forms of hacking. A cyber security analyst or consultant works to respond to these attacks, typically planning, creating, and applying security measures crafted to defend an organization’s networks. 

Serving as a cyber security professional includes many related tasks, such as finding and reporting vulnerabilities, building encryption tools and firewalls, and educating staff on security best practices. Additionally, cyber security experts often participate in “white hat” or “ethical” hacking- simulating attacks on their systems to evaluate them for weaknesses. Regular security tasks may vary, but a professional in the industry will likely be responsible for some form of the following:

  • Monitoring networks for security breaches

  • Managing security software, such as firewalls

  • Identifying vulnerabilities in a system

  • Comparing the company’s security practices to current best practices

  • Performing audits that provide actionable security insights

  • Storing secure backups of important company information

  • Educating staff, stakeholders, and users on the best ways to defend themselves

  • Maintaining an understanding of current trends and researching future threats

Why Seek a Career In Cyber Security?

Cyber security professionals will cite several reasons for enjoying their work. First and foremost is the feeling of satisfaction that the work imparts. A cyber security analyst is in charge of the safety and wellbeing of their coworker’s digital assets, and knowing that they are providing such an overt, positive effect on their workplace feels great. Similarly, new cyber threats are constantly emerging, so cyber security professionals get to enjoy learning new things. It’s exciting and personally rewarding but can also be financially rewarding.

Competitive Salaries in Cyber Defense

Cybersecurity careers feature competitive salaries across the board, with many entry-level positions enjoying a considerable yearly sum. For example, CompTIA notes salaries ranging as little as $80,000 and as high as $150,000. This variance is expected, as the higher-end positions require additional skills. This includes roles such as software developer- someone who is expected not just to craft the security elements of a piece of software but are designing and building the program outright. A programmer that can do it all, both create the software and defend it, should expect the greatest demand. 

Real World Job Security

While there are many reasons to consider a career in cyber security, one of the primary benefits is in the name already: job security. As the industry is always evolving, cyber security positions are constantly in demand and likely to stay that way. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for cybersecurity professionals will grow as much as 33% over time. With that kind of future growth and more digital platforms becoming popular, cyber security is a very secure field.

Is Coding Needed to Become a Cyber Security Specialist?

Many ask if you need to know how to code to become a cyber security expert. In the short term, and to join the industry at an entry-level position, the answer is simple: no. Coding is an important additional skill for a cyber security analyst, becoming a crucial part of an individual’s toolkit if looking to advance their career, but it is not a requirement. Many bootcamps and educational programs will help provide a baseline understanding of code, including how the different programming languages function, such as Python, Perl, and Powershell.

Hard Skills In Cyber Defense

You don’t need to ask yourself, “what does a cyber security consultant do?” Instead, you should consider the skills that a cyber security consultant needs to succeed. Cyber security analysts must cultivate several hard skills to offer the best they can to the industry. Of course, you do not require all these skills for an entry-level position, but each adds substantially to your ability to establish yourself in the industry. 

  • Threat Detection: A threat cannot be answered if an analyst cannot find it, so knowing how to identify a threat is vital. Many networking tools help identify users and interactions within a given system, allowing an analyst to discover when something is amiss. 

  • Data Security: As the most valuable asset for many organizations, ensuring that a company is storing and protecting its data is one of the essential factors of cyber defense. From antivirus software to building and developing permissions for an organization, a large part of cyber security is managing data.

  • Individual Security: Businesses now have many potential points of failure. Every individual computer, including those being accessed remotely, is a possible way for a threat to enter the system. Therefore, educating the workforce about the best way to defend their machine has become a core part of cyber security. 

  • Network Defense: Beyond every individual device, however, is the greater network. Once a vulnerability is accessed within a system, the entire network is at risk, so cyber security analysts often spend significant time analyzing overarching concerns for the system.

  • System Programming: While not necessarily needed for most entry-level positions, having a base understanding of programming languages goes a long way for those seeking a career in cyber security. This may include knowledge of Python or Javascript, though coding languages can change and evolve with time. 

Soft Skills for Security Experts

In addition to the hard skills noted above, experts in the field of cyber security also offer more to their workplace than their technical skill set. For example, if you possess the following soft skills, you may enjoy a career in cyber security. 

  • Detail-Oriented: If you enjoy paying attention to even the smallest detail, you could become an asset to any organization’s security team. 

  • Natural Curiosity: Paying attention to details is well and good, but being able to move past the present information and ask more profound questions can result in new discoveries. A healthy interest in learning new things will help you stay above the curve.

  • Works Well Under Pressure: When a threat does surface, a cyber security professional must be able to answer it effectively. If you can answer a cyber attack without stressing out, you’ll be better equipped to be a part of the industry. 

  • Forward Thinking: Much like curiosity, being able to pursue a line of thought towards a productive end goal is a powerful asset for any organization. Being able to think critically allows you to make success-oriented decisions.

  • Communication Skills: Finally, working well within a team can make all the difference. Hence, it is no surprise that skilled security analysts can interact well with their coworkers. 

Boot Up The Experience You Need

Joining the industry as a cyber security analyst could be as easy as taking part in a comprehensive cyber security bootcamp. The University of South Florida offers a premier bootcamp designed for this exact purpose. By participating in this stellar program, you can learn all the skills you need to boost your cyber security career. So don’t hesitate to consider getting a head start on a lucrative, fulfilling career today with USF.