What is an Information Security Analyst?
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An information security analyst is someone who takes measures to protect a company's sensitive and mission-critical data, staying one step ahead of cyber attackers. They do this by coming up with innovative solutions to prevent critical information from being stolen, damaged or compromised by hackers.
Note the differences between a Security Analyst and a Security Administrator:
Security Analysts - are responsible for analyzing data and recommending changes to higher ups, but do not authorize and implement changes. Their main job is keeping attackers out.
Security Administrators - ensure that systems are working as designed by making changes, applying patches and setting up new admin users. Their main job is keeping systems up.
How to Become an Information Security Analyst
What does an Information Security Analyst do?
The information security analyst is responsible for protecting all sensitive information within a company. With the rise in hackers and data breaches sweeping throughout companies and the government, there’s a greater need to keep personal and top-secret information safe from cyberattacks. Information security analysts help develop, implement, and ensure compliance of policies to protect an organization’s data from being inappropriately accessed or used, by erecting firewalls and encrypting data transmissions to secure confidential information as it is being received or transmitted. These attacks may come from inside or outside the company.
Information security analysts focus on three main areas:
- Risk assessment - identifying problems an organization might face
- Vulnerability assessment - determining an organization’s weaknesses
- Defense planning - installing protections, such as firewalls and data encryption programs
Information security analysts promote security awareness in the company. This works with improving the security of its computer data and improving network and server efficiency. They document tests, security and emergency policies, and procedures. Information security legal requirements may change, therefore the analyst must stay abreast of regulatory requirements.
An information security analyst remains current on reports of computer viruses, decides if updated protection is needed, and shares this information with the company or customer. The security analyst also organizes and conducts training for all employees regarding company security and information safeguarding. They also maintain or modify computer security files to add or incorporate new software, change a person's access status, and correct errors.
Information security analysts create plans to prevent any malicious or inadvertent use of data, create plans for emergency use, train users on security measures, and monitor access to data. Along with these duties, they may also be tasked with going over information on viruses and ensuring virus protection is in place. They may be asked to take a look at risks of data exposure as well as make sure that security systems are in place and working as designed. They may also serve as experts on application development project teams to ensure the application complies with the organization’s information security standards.
The information security analyst may be included in planning for other threats to the organization's data, such as threats caused by severe weather, maintaining power to servers in case of a local outage, and planning for continuing operations at alternate sites in case the main operations site needs to be shut down.
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How to become an Information Security Analyst
A bachelor's degree in a computer/technical related field, network and system administration experience, and programming experience is generally required. Some employers may also require a certain number of years of experience.
Information security is vital in every company. This is especially true with companies that deal with sensitive information such as healthcare companies and banks. New security measures are added on a regular basis and, as a result, the demand for security analysts is high. This career has a projected growth rate of 36.5 percent by 2022 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and an estimated 27,400 new jobs will need to be filled in the industry.
What is the workplace of an Information Security Analyst like?
An information security analyst can work for consulting firms, as well as computer, financial, and business organizations to protect computer files from unauthorized people and possible theft or destruction. Someone in an entry-level position may operate software to monitor and analyze information, while a more senior-level position could require investigative work to determine whether a security breach has occurred.
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