Protecting the security and integrity of data is vital for businesses and organizations, sending demand for qualified cybersecurity analysts surging. These professionals monitor computer networks to ensure safeguards are in place to protect sensitive information and proprietary data from cyber criminals.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), information security analyst jobs are projected to increase by 32% between 2018 and 2028*, much faster than the national average for all occupations during that decade.
What is Cybersecurity Analysis?
Without constant monitoring and analysis, businesses, public organizations, government agencies and individuals are vulnerable to harmful infiltration of their computer systems. Cybersecurity analysis is the process that enables the best monitoring practices in relation to those structures.
Why Cybersecurity Analysts Matter
When hackers infiltrate credit card firms’ networks, for example, millions of dollars can be lost in a matter of minutes. Sensitive military information could be extremely dangerous in the wrong hands. Even small businesses must keep their customers’ data secure to protect their brands.
What Does a Cybersecurity Analyst Do?
Cybersecurity analysts protect websites and networks from cyber threats such as malware, denial-of-service attacks, hacks and viruses. They provide consulting services, interpret and establish security technologies, and create the information security framework and architecture that protects sensitive data from threats. They keep computer systems running smoothly, prevent the theft of financial and personal information, and block intruders from accessing and divulging proprietary data. In performing these duties, cybersecurity analysts assess and mitigate risk while enhancing system security.
They are typically responsible for identifying and securing any network weaknesses and making recommendations for hardware and software upgrades. Cybersecurity analysts can achieve all these tasks because of their expertise and knowledge of databases, networks, hardware, firewalls and encryption. Other duties include:
- Regulating computer file access
- Developing firewalls
- Performing risk assessments and data processing systems
- Simulating threats and adversarial incidents
- Reviewing new technologies to ensure that they conform to security policies and computer infrastructure
Cybersecurity Analyst Potential Salary
Nationwide, information security analysts had a median annual wage of $98,350 as of May 2018, the BLS* reports. The top 10% had earnings of more than $156,580, and wages were higher for cybersecurity professionals in the computer systems design, finance and information industries.
Finding a Cybersecurity Analyst Position
Organizations that deal with sensitive data need the services of information security professionals such as cybersecurity analysts, and the BLS expects the need to be “very high” in the coming years. Job opportunities can be found across sectors and industries. In particular, the BLS* notes that financial institutions and banks will need to increase their information security to prevent growing cyber attacks. The healthcare industry is also noted, as patient privacy and data protection are threatened by the expanse of electronic medical records.
How To Become a Cybersecurity Analyst
A bachelor’s degree in computer science, programming or a similar field is typically a minimum educational requirement for cybersecurity analysts. Some employers may also look for applicants with advanced training, industry certifications or work experience in a related field such as information technology. Some firms prefer candidates to have an advanced degree, such as a Master of Science in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity.
Applicants for cybersecurity positions with military or government agencies often must undergo background checks and obtain security clearances and industry certifications. Prospective employers may offer tuition assistance to help employees attain a degree or professional credentials.
In addition to advanced educational qualifications, interpersonal skills and general business expertise are essential attributes for cybersecurity analysts. Employers also may seek the following qualities in cybersecurity analyst candidates:
- Experience with multiple computer systems and programs
- Aptitude in solving problems independently
- Strong verbal and written communications
- Sound decision-making ability
Similar Jobs within Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity jobs are available in a wide range of industries. Earning a cybersecurity degree can open opportunities to some of the most critical security control jobs in the field dealing with things from cyberattacks to information assurance. Careers with these responsibilities can include:
- Health Data Security Analyst
- Computer Security Specialist
- Cyber Systems Analyst
- Information Systems Security Manager
- Security Administrator
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*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Information Security Analysts, on the internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/mobile/information-security-analysts.htm (visited November 26, 2019).
National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth. Degree and/or certificate program options do not guarantee career or salary outcomes. Students should conduct independent research for specific employment information.