What Does a Cybersecurity Analyst Do?

If you only know one thing about the Internet, hopefully, it is the fact that it is a deceptively dangerous place. In a world that is only increasing in online connectivity, private information has become harder and harder to safeguard from knowledgeable hackers. These modern-day digital pirates are a motivated bunch, getting more creative and sophisticated at breaking through some of the most complex protective barriers out there through the clever use of a basic Internet connection. Sounds scary, right? Who among us can go up against such formidable and unseen foes?

Enter cybersecurity professionals. These folks are the Knights of the Round Table when it comes to defending individuals, businesses and other Internet users from the perils of the World Wide Web. Among the front lines of these wise and skilled warriors are the cybersecurity analysts, who protect computer networks from cyber-attacks and unauthorized access by anticipating and defending against cyber threats and responding to security breaches when they do occur. This job role is vital in guarding an organization's precious data and should never be taken lightly.

To learn more about this noble profession, read on and find out how cybersecurity makes the Internet safer, the job responsibilities of cybersecurity analysts and how you can get started in this crucial field.

What Does Cybersecurity Entail?

Cybersecurity is all about safeguarding sensitive information in its digital form. Such data can be stored in networks, cloudbases or computer systems and can never be left vulnerable to theft, leaks, damage, restriction or manipulation. From medical records and bank accounts to trade secrets and grade books at educational institutions, the security measures put in place by cybersecurity professionals act as shields against data breaches of all kinds. 

Many organizations these days take advantage of technology and the Internet, transmitting private info across networks or various devices daily, thus creating a trail of access points for cyber attacks. These threats can come from inside or outside forces, entities seeking to disrupt business or exploit stolen data. Because of this, most firms and organizations have cybersecurity teams ranging from one to hundreds of people working around the clock to keep their data safe.

These experts have many functions with the broader goal of keeping their clients' cybersecurity tight. Cybersecurity pros hold positions from entry-level analysts to top-gun executives. Still, no matter their particular job, all workers must be adept at standard procedures in data security, knowing how to:

  • Create, test, implement and research security systems.

  • Evaluate and repair software bugs.

  • Combat security problems and locate potential susceptibilities.

  • Develop risk prevention measures.

  • Generate security reports for administrators and managers.

Those who employ meticulous and strict cybersecurity measures–utilizing analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence–have a smaller chance of falling prey to data breaches, often neutralizing them before they occur. 

What Does a Cybersecurity Analysts Do?

An analyst is a professional who advises individuals and organizations in business affairs. In the case of cybersecurity, the cybersecurity analyst is a mid-level role tasked with protecting hardware, software and networks and instructing others in their organization on user prevention. While the daily work of a cybersecurity analyst varies from place to place, here are several typical responsibilities:

  • Monitor network traffic.

  • Examine incidents and respond to events in real-time.

  • Draft incident response reports.

  • Install and manage firewalls and other security software.

  • Patch vulnerabilities.

  • Establish and promote information security best practices.

  • Execute threat research.

  • Conduct risk assessments and penetration tests.

Cybersecurity analysts must understand the cyber threat landscape of the moment and their client's IT infrastructure. This could mean having a command of Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems and experience with firewalls, VPNs, proxy servers and SIEMs. 

In addition to technical skills, the role of cybersecurity analyst also requires soft skills such as:

  • Curiosity.

  • Critical thinking.

  • Calm under pressure.

  • Oral and written communication skills.

  • Attention to detail.

These analysts are known to work closely with other security personnel to ensure that their client or organization is thoroughly protected. In addition, it is common for them to deliver technical reports and meet with or present to the broader organization to educate them on technical matters and best practices, all of which require extensive collaboration and interpersonal skills.

In the U.S., the average annual salary for this position is around $90k, depending on experience, education and bonuses. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the role is anticipated to see a 35% increase in job growth between 2021 and 2031, which is much better than the national average of 5%. Therefore, it would seem there are more cybersecurity jobs than there are candidates with the skills to fill them.

What Does a Cybersecurity Consultant Do?

By definition, a consultant is a seasoned pro who is highly trained in one area and instructs individuals and organizations in dealings pertaining to that area of expertise. These professionals traditionally spend several years working in their specialized field and then use their expert knowledge to assist others.

Some companies and organizations refer to cybersecurity analysts and cybersecurity consultants interchangeably. Other titles include security consultant, computer security consultant, network security consultant, information technology (IT) consultant and database security consultant. Whatever the job title, their responsibilities overlap and involve a wide range of variables in evaluating security systems. 

A cybersecurity consultant targets risks in three areas: prevention, discovery and response. Their job often begins with designing and implementing IT security systems to secure their organization's network from cyber threats and continues through helping to establish IT security best practices across their organization. In addition, consultants actively monitor computer networks for lapses in security, install security software and record any breaches or problems they encounter.

How To Get a Job as a Cybersecurity Analyst

Employers are now more open to candidates from diverse academic backgrounds for the role of cybersecurity analyst, as long as they possess the required skills and experience. While a technical degree like computer science, mathematics or engineering coupled with at least three years of relevant experience used to be the standard, employers are beginning to consider applicants with different educational backgrounds as well. Proficiency in Mac-based operating systems, penetration testing, security software installation and security discrepancy recording is still crucial. In addition, a solid understanding of patch management, firewalls, antivirus, and IDPS concepts is a must-have for any cybersecurity consultant.

There are an estimated 3.5 million unfulfilled jobs in the job market―for cybersecurity alone. Industry certification is arguably one of the essential parts of pursuing a career in cybersecurity and staying relevant in the field. Roughly 60% of all cybersecurity positions require at least one certification, which is why online bootcamp courses have risen in popularity. Earning a certification can give credence to your skills in the eyes of potential employers; plus, the benefits of preparing for a certification exam are two-fold in that you learn more about the field while also building your skills. 

Cybersecurity roles are immensely valuable in today's hyper-connected world. Stony Brook University offers a 100% online bootcamp for those interested in pursuing a career in this field. Stony Brook University understands that the best programs are those that provide accessible mentors, technical labs, help in building your portfolio and instruction on how to job hunt effectively and ace your interviews.

The Stony Brook University Cybersecurity Bootcamp is meant to carry you through the program within nine months. Still, you can complete the program even sooner if you put in extra hours each week. Gain knowledge from experts in the field through 1:1 mentorships, get current career advice for the industry and enjoy hands-on projects and labs that will give you a concrete idea of what it is like to work in cybersecurity. Utilize the mock quizzes and tests to prepare yourself for the CompTIA Security+ exam―an internationally-recognized certification in the cybersecurity industry―for which there is a free voucher included in your course for the actual exam. 

Take the first step toward a new career and start today with the Stony Brook University Cybersecurity Bootcamp.