HOW TO BECOME A SECURITY ANALYST
If you want to become a security analyst, you are headed towards a great and fruitful career. The process will involve a lot of training and some very difficult work, but every minute will be worth it.
A security analyst is responsible for the digital security of the company or government agency he or she works for. As a security analyst, you will have to analyze the security policies and protocols and do a thorough audit to determine any weaknesses in the company or agency security system. You will also need to anticipate future flaws which might result in disaster for everyone.
You might need to assess new firewall technology to protect your systems. After that, it may be necessary to customize the software to best suit your organization. When the security system is unique, cyber criminals will face new challenges when they encounter your domain. During this process, it will be vital to ensure that your security measures fit your budget. If you work for the government, you may need to audit any contractors you hire to write code. Those workers may also need security clearances, for which you will be responsible.
SECURITY ANALYST VS. CYBER CRIME INVESTIGATOR
Though both security analysts and cyber crime investigators both work under the umbrella of cyber crime, their jobs are rather different. A security analyst protects his agency or company from criminals, while an investigator is called in after a crime has been committed. The investigator's job is to scrutinize logs and other data to determine where databases have been compromised. They may be specifically trained to recognize the means and methods of criminals. When not investigating a case, they might spend time researching new trends in criminality, or attempting to hack into crime rings to gather intelligence on their activities.
A security analyst protects his agency or company from criminals, while an investigator is called in after a crime has been committed.
An investigator is likely to be called to create detailed reports and then will be required to testify in court. A cyber crime investigator will need to be knowledgeable of the laws and protocols pertaining to evidence gathering, handling, and assessment. Since the field is still rather new, they may also be called to train and consult with police officers to get them up to speed on trends in cyber crime.
Both analysts and investigators will need up-to-date knowledge of the policies and laws surrounding their field. They might also consult with lawmakers and the business community alike.
POSSIBLE CAREER PATHS
When you choose the path toward a security analyst career, you will start in an entry level job as an applications system analyst, progress into a senior analyst position and then advance as a systems analyst specialist.
Your entry level job will ask for an undergraduate degree and possibly 1-to-2 years in an internship or other experience. Your part time IT job in college might just provide the sort of experience you need. You will work with the senior analysts to brainstorm solutions to security problems and work to synthesize the various business systems.
When you move into the senior analyst position, you might consider a graduate degree, or a graduate-level certificate in cyber security. Your duties will expand from your previous position to include coordinating the efforts of the business executives and the technical team to come up with synergistic tech strategies. When you are coordinating between non-technical people and the programmers, your writing skills will be tested in that you will need to convey highly technical information to those who may not be as familiar with that jargon.
At the top of this career path is the systems analyst specialist.
For this job, an IT MBA that focuses on security may be required. You will need to have a spotless track record that shows your excellence in the field. Your duties will now be more big-picture as you steer the whole IT department toward their goals. You will also be called to conceive new programming practices that will frame the culture of the work for everyone from the entry-level analyst and up.
Alternately, you might amass experience in the security field and devote your time to work as a consultant. In that role, you might work for a large consultancy firm and take projects as they become available. You might also choose to go solo and work with small IT departments to help them maintain and secure their databases and networks. If you choose to work solo, you may need to subcontract work to other independents or small IT firms.
Some similar jobs and career paths include business systems analyst, systems analyst and database analyst. A business systems analyst works primarily with the business side of an organization to help them streamline their operations. You will be somewhat of a middleman between the technical side and the business side in this role. You will have to analyze the network on a daily basis, but also work to communicate technical matters with various departments. With that in mind, it will be vital to be an excellent communicator both in written messages and in spoken interactions.
A systems analyst helps a company or department implement technical tools and procedures. For instance, you might need to find the very best method and software for converting documents to a PDF, or you might need to train people to use new products you have chosen to roll out. Even issues like the naming conventions for files and folders may fall to you. This may seem trivial, but if all files follow a similar name structure they will be easier to find.
A database analyst specializes in database work and this is integral to the operations of any business. The database is, after all, where all of the data files are kept. If you work for a bank, your duty may be to organize and protect all of the bank records and the security of millions of dollars will be under your eagle eye.
Most of the time companies want applicants who have a bachelor's degree in computer science, information technology or software engineering. Your experience will help you get a job, so if you are still in school you might seek out a part-time position or an internship. On top of your purely technical skills, try to also cultivate your communication abilities. Effective interpersonal communication skills can make a huge difference in how quickly you progress.