a male information security analyst working on his laptop

How to Become an Information Security Analyst

Information security analysts monitor private data. To protect information and network infrastructure from attacks, infosec professionals create firewalls and update software systems. 

Most infosec professionals work in IT departments providing security and consultation services for firms, businesses, and financial companies. They analyze security protocols and look for weaknesses in a company’s security system, stopping attacks before they happen. 

If you wish to pursue employment in this sector, you’ve come to the right place. Use this guide to decide whether a career in information security is for you. 

What Is Information Security? 

Information security is the practice of protecting data from unauthorized access or theft. The three major principles of information security are secrecy, integrity, and availability, also known as the CIA triad. The techniques of infosec specialists are designed and implemented to guard against the misuse, disclosure, or destruction of personal data.

What Is Information Security Used For?

For many organizations, information is a prized asset that must be protected at all costs. Information security is mainly used for four things.

  • Encipherment. This refers to making data unreadable to unauthorized parties. It is achieved mainly by employing the arts of cryptography and steganography.

  • Data Integrity. Infosec analysts must ensure that important data has not been tampered with, or that companies can check whether their data is intact. 

  • Access Control. By regulating who can view the data, information security analysts can minimize the risk of unauthorized access.

  • Notarization. This is a security mechanism that involves the use of trusted third parties in the transfer of information. Notaries keep a record of all the requests made by the sender to the receiver for any later denial.

What Is an Information Security Analyst?

Information security analysts are responsible for ensuring that a company’s digital assets are protected from unknown threats. 

They do this in many ways. They analyze security breaches to find the root cause of a problem and perform security audits to diagnose weak points in a system. By writing reports for business managers on the efficacy of existing security policies, they can help a company take steps towards a safer and more secure network. 

Information Security Analyst Skills 

To protect a network from cyber threats, you must have a few skills at your disposal. The most important are the following three.

Vulnerability Management Skills

Susceptibility management is the process of identifying, reporting on, and treating weaknesses in the system and the software installed in the system. 

You will be better prepared to help an organization prioritize possible threats if you know something about ethical hacking, intrusive prevention, and computer forensics. 

Big Data Infosec Skills 

Big data information security means guarding both the data and analytics from attack, theft, or any malicious activity that may cause harm to the data. 

One of the most common tools is encryption, which renders the encrypted data useless to hackers. Building a strong firewall is another helpful tool for securing big data. Any information security analyst should know how and when to use these tools.

Cloud Security Skills

Cloud security focuses on creating and hosting secure applications in a cloud environment. Given recent advances in cloud technology, infosec analysts must be equipped to handle cloud-based systems, their data, and infrastructure. 

Roles and Responsibilities of an Information Security Analyst 

A security analyst secures data from unauthorized access by creating a system that can prevent attacks. An information security analyst has several roles. 

It includes operating infosec software and controls, communicating through all levels of the organization and creating, modifying, and updating the intrusion detection system (IDS). 

Below are a few more duties that an analyst must perform.

  • Monitoring networks. A system analyst monitors an organization’s networks for security breaches and thefts and then investigates violations when any occur. 

  • Prescribing security software. They install firewalls and data encryption software to protect all of an organization’s sensitive information and data.

  • Conducting penetration testing. Penetration testing is used to identify vulnerabilities in a system before they can be exploited. The analyst simulates attacks and then looks for such loopholes.

  • Implementing incident response plans. Perhaps an organization needs to take preventive measures such as transferring data to an offsite location. Or it needs to find new data security technologies that will more effectively protect itself.

Information Security Analyst Job Opportunities 

A certified information systems security professional is one of the most valuable job titles you can get. If you have the requisite theoretical and practical knowledge, you can get prime placement working for a computer company, a consulting firm, or a financial business. 

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for information security analysts is projected to rise by 31 percent over the next 10 years. It is much faster than the average for all occupations. 

Information Security Analyst Salary 

According to PayScale, the average salary for an information security analyst in the United States is $72,676, with a range of $60,000 to $90,000. Bonuses are often awarded to infosec professionals for exceptional job performance. 

Learning Information Security 

a padlock on a laptop
With the right bootcamp, learning information security can be easy.

You can easily learn about infosec measures, protocols, and threats with the help of free online courses and resources. You can take your education in a more formal direction and earn a college degree. 

How Long Does It Take To Learn Information Security? 

The time it takes to acquire all the knowledge varies, but in a university setting, you can expect to spend four years on an information security degree. Earning a four-year bachelor’s degree in information technology to become a cyber security engineer can help you find better job opportunities. 

Some organizations prefer their information security professionals to have a master’s degree, which takes two additional years of schooling to complete. 

How to Become an Information Security Analyst: Step-By-Step 

Knowing all the techniques for securing personal data will put your application at the top of the pile. Below are a few guidelines to help you out.

  1. Getting familiar with security. The first step is to read detailed summaries of the information security profession. That way, you’ll know where your knowledge gaps are and have a better sense of how to address them. 

  2. Research. Research courses and programs that you can take to get the knowledge and skills you need. 

  3. Enroll. Infosec courses are popular, so don’t waste any time. Grab your seat in the class before they all fill up.

  4. Practice. Once you understand each concept, practice what you’ve learned. Most courses will offer problem sets and knowledge checks to help you apply your knowledge toward real-world issues of information security. 

  5. Certification. There are many certifications available online that will help you prove your mettle and stand out from the crowd.

Information Security Certifications

Information security professionals who want to add a new skill to their CV should tackle at least one of the following information security certificates. 

CISM: Certified Information Security Manager

  • Prerequisites: 5 years of infosec work experience, and a minimum of 3 years of experience in information security management.
  • Cost: $575 for members, $760 for non-members

CISM is the top credential for IT professionals involved in overseeing an organization’s information security systems. The Information System Audits and Control Association introduced this certificate to security professionals in 2003.

CompTIA Security+

  • Prerequisites: None
  • Cost: Free

This is a reputable vendor-neutral security certification. Professionals who earn Security+ signal to potential employers their technical expertise, extensive knowledge, and proficiency in various security-related disciplines. 

To earn this certificate, you have to pass an exam that consists of multiple-choice and performance-based questions. Only after completion of the exam will you be considered an information security expert.

Online Information Security Resources 

Online bootcamps are a useful way to gain a better understanding of cybersecurity, often at no cost whatsoever. Below is a list of free cybersecurity resources, courses, and other tools to help you get ahead.

  • Springboard: Foundations of Cybersecurity. This course is best suited for beginners who want to pursue cybersecurity as their profession. With more than 40 resources and 9 core modules, this Springboard course will equip you with a strong base of fundamentals.

  • Cybrary: Free Training And Community Resources. Launched in 2015 with the aim of making it easier to learn information security, Cybrary offers a library of free resources on all topics related to cybersecurity. It contains free practice tests, practice labs, and assessments to help learners.

  • US Department of Homeland Security: Virtual Training. This government website includes plenty of virtual resources to help you increase your knowledge. Their 11 courses cover all the relevant topics, including information on the latest threats to information security.  

Should You Study Information Security? 

woman studying infosec in between piles of books
If you have the right skills, Information Security can provide you with a stable future.

As far as tech jobs go, an information security analyst is one of the best tech jobs out there. There’s plenty of opportunities to be rewarded with raises as you gain more experience.

Studying information security and pursuing a career in cyber security is a great career move. Big organizations are offering generous compensation packages for information security analysts who can safeguard their data and eliminate vulnerabilities. A top cyber security bootcamp can help you get the training you need to kickstart a career in this field.

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