Data analysis is the art and science of transforming raw data into meaningful and useful information. Historically, businesses have used data analysis to monitor their overall performance and to better understand factors that drive that performance, such as customer preferences and purchasing habits. But data analysis can also be used to identify cybersecurity threats, risks, and incidents, helping businesses become safer and less vulnerable to cyber attacks.

The Challenge and Benefits of “Big Data”

Businesses today are awash with data. According to IBM, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every single day, meaning that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. Many in the industry refer to this massive amount of data as “big data”, a term used for data sets that are so big or complex that they become difficult to capture, process, and store.

Because of the proliferation of data and the ever-changing face of technology and its accompanying risks, making accurate and timely enterprise-level cybersecurity decisions can be difficult. Although big data can be challenging, its sheer breadth and depth also present businesses with an almost unlimited capability to proactively monitor and mitigate potential cybersecurity issues.

The Role of Data Analysis in Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is concerned with protecting digital assets, networks, and computers from attack or unauthorized access of data. As businesses continue to rely on technology and the Internet, they also face the increased risk of cybercrime. And due to the constantly evolving nature of technology and related security risks, preventing cybercrime is a challenging responsibility.

Fortunately, data analysis also has the potential to be used to identify the risks that have resulted from the exponential growth of technology and the Internet, and our increasing reliance on both. Data analysis can give businesses a comprehensive view of internal and external risks by alerting decision makers about potential fraud, unusual network traffic patterns, hardware failures, and security breaches. It converts data into actionable information, helping businesses move their cybersecurity measures from a reactive state to a proactive state.

Becoming a Cybersecurity Data Analyst

Data analysis positions typically require a strong aptitude in mathematics, statistics, computer science or other analytical discipline. Most analysts have a bachelor’s degree in a related field of study, but those who want to pursue a cybersecurity specialization might want to obtain a specific degree in cybersecurity, such as the Master of Science in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity. This program focuses exclusively on cybersecurity, giving students in-depth knowledge and training on how to recognize, evaluate, and mitigate a variety of potential threats.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), cybersecurity-related positions are expected to have favorable prospects. Due to the increase in frequency and sophistication in cyber attacks over the past few years, the demand for qualified analysts is on the rise. The BLS projects a 22 percent increase in employment information security analysts from 2010 to 2020.

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