HOW TO BECOME A VULNERABILITY ANALYST
A cyber security degree is something that can take you into a world with a wide variety of career path options available. For those individuals interested in problem-solving or computer hacking, a career as a vulnerability assessor may be the right choice for you.
A quick and simple definition of this job is a vulnerability assessor searches and analyzes any possible errors in systems or applications so businesses can make improvements to their security systems.
WHAT IS VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENT?
Vulnerability Assessors may also be referred to as Vulnerability Assessment Analysts. Once all the flaws in a system are found, an analyzed assessment is given so there is a clear understanding of where changes need to take place and are prioritized and listed in order of importance.
Other job requirements may include but are not limited to:
- Test for vulnerability by creating and testing custom scripts and applications
- On a preset basis, oversee and run security audits and scans
- Recognize any vital defects in systems that could allow access to cyber invaders
- Eliminate laborious tasks in finding vulnerabilities by using preset tools, like Nessus
- Compose and describe a vulnerability assessment
- Use creative and hands-on strategies to produce false vulnerabilities and discrepancies
- Implement a vulnerability assessment database
- For metric reasons, keep up with any system vulnerabilities over a period of time
- Lead instruction and training for system administrators
VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENT VS. PENETRATION TESTING
In the land of cyber security, it is possible to get confused between careers or job responsibilities. Several positions could be recognized as being very similar. Let's examine a common one, that of a penetration tester, which can be compared with a vulnerability assessment analyst.
Vulnerability Assessment: Completed to help organizations identify their list of weaknesses in security and help rank those issues for improvements. These assessments help develop safe and secure running systems and applications.
Penetration Test: A test completed on a particular scenario, usually requested by a company that already has strong control over their security system. For example, a penetration test could be run to attempt to access customer credit card information.
Thus, while vulnerability assessment and penetration testing may seem similar, they serve different purposes in the realm of cybersecurity. Vulnerability assessments help organizations identify weaknesses in their security system and prioritize improvements, whereas penetration testing involves testing a specific scenario to evaluate the effectiveness of an organization's security measures.
Understanding the differences between these two roles is essential in determining which job is best suited to your skills and interests. Ultimately, both positions play a vital role in protecting companies from cyber threats and ensuring the safety of sensitive information.
POSSIBLE VULNERABILITY ASSESSOR CAREER PATHS
Often vulnerability assessors are hired as outside security consultants. This is a nice option for someone needing some flexibility, along with keeping doors open to expanding into other roles in the cyber security industry. Also, while we compared the difference between a penetration tester and a vulnerability assessor, some assessors may do both jobs.
Some other role possibilities could include:
- Cryptanalyst or Cryptographer
- Source Code Auditor
- Security Consultant
- Forensics Expert
Your job title may vary and fall into any of the following:
- Security Assessor
- Cyber Assessor
- Vulnerability Assessor
- Vulnerability Assessment Analyst
This information is important to remember when you begin the job hunt. A career opportunity may be posted under one of these titles so take the time to examine job responsibilities and/or expectations if listed.
VULNERABILITY ANALYST SALARY EXPECTATIONS
A vulnerability assessor, a smaller subset of computer systems analysts, makes a median annual salary of approximately $102,240 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
ANNUAL MEDIAN SALARY OF
Vulnerability Assessor Analyst
UPPER 10% OF THE PROFESSION
The top 10% of vulnerability assessor analysts earn a median annual salary of $161,980. Where you work and what part of the country you live in can determine a significant difference in salaries.
WHAT IS REQUIRED TO BECOME A VULNERABILITY ASSESSOR?
This path is fairly accessible, even for those who have not had a great deal of schooling. It is common that individuals interested in this career to have an interest in ethical hacking and cyber security in high school or college.
Some may have the natural ability to learn and experiment on their own and become successful. A traditional cyber security degree is not always required for this position, however, some employers might be more interested in a candidate with either an associate's degree or bachelor's degree in Cyber Security or Computer Science.
Make sure you take the time to learn the specific job requirements before applying so you are as prepared as possible.
Work Experience While some employers may look for someone with a degree, other employers may be more interested in someone with solid work experience. The total amount of work experience required will vary depending on the place of employment. The basic requirement is at least three years in a cyber security-related field of work.
- Imaginative in their way of thinking; basically have the mind of a hacker
- Eccentric in their approach to strategies and techniques
- Focused and attentive to detail
- Interested in problem-solving and accepting challenges
- Well-spoken and effective writing skills for assessment reports and training
- Skilled in web-based applications
- Familiar with automated scanning tools like RETINA, Nessus, Gold Disk, and more
- Work comfortably in software and hardware computer systems
- Knowledge of security frameworks, tools and products; Fortify, AppScan, ISO 27001/27002, HIPPA
- Fluent with computer operating systems; Windows, Linux and UNIX
Certifications Some certificates may be beneficial to your resume and help build your career. Here are some examples:
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- GIAC Certified Penetration Tester (GPEN)
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- Certified Vulnerability Assessor (CVA)
- Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)
- Certified Penetration Tester (CPT)
- GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH)
- Certified Expert Penetration Tester (CEPT)
ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS OF BEING A VULNERABILITY ANALYST
While the goal of the job is to identify and report weaknesses in security systems, there may be situations where reporting these vulnerabilities could actually do more harm than good. For example, if a vulnerability is reported to a company that is not equipped to handle the issue or doesn't have the resources to fix it, it could leave the company more vulnerable to attacks.
Furthermore, vulnerability assessors may also be called upon to perform penetration tests, which involve attempting to breach a company's security system to test its effectiveness. This can be a delicate process that requires a thorough understanding of both the legal and ethical considerations involved. For example, if a penetration test is conducted without the proper authorization or goes beyond the scope of what was agreed upon, it could be considered illegal and lead to serious consequences.
To address these concerns, it is important for vulnerability assessors to not only have a strong understanding of the technical aspects of the job but also the ethical considerations involved. This may include staying up-to-date on industry standards and regulations, as well as consulting with legal experts and other professionals as needed. Ultimately, the goal should be to provide valuable insights and recommendations to companies while also ensuring that any vulnerabilities are reported in a responsible and ethical manner.
Becoming a vulnerability assessor no matter which way you choose, can be an exciting and interesting career. It offers opportunities with a wide variety of cyber security roles and responsibilities. Take advantage of your creative thinking skills and put them to good use to help businesses develop solid and secure security systems. Start by browsing information security programs in our extensive database of schools and get matched with the right one for you.