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How to become an information security analyst

Young female information security analyst works on a computer in a drab office

By Cooper Nelson

At a glance

  • An information security analyst is a professional in the field of cybersecurity who plans and enacts strategies to protect a company’s network.
  • Security analysts plan and strategize ways to protect networks, monitor them, research latest trends and set security standards.
  • Information security professionals typically hold a bachelor’s degree in a technology field, such as computer science, cybersecurity or information technology, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Learn more about online information technology degrees at University of Phoenix.

It’s hard to imagine a business or home in the 21st century without computers, phones, tablets and other devices. The amount of electronic information used daily is staggering, and with it comes an increased need for cybersecurity.

A cybersecurity breach at a large corporation or organization can have widespread effects on that company and its customers. Since 2005, the Identity Theft Resource Center has tracked breaches in which the public was notified, recording more than 10,000 such incidents, including the 2017 Equifax and 2013 Target attacks.

To avoid these incidents, companies hire cybersecurity professionals, such as information security analysts, to help protect the electronic data used and stored by companies.

What is an information security analyst?

An information security analyst is a professional in the field of cybersecurity. They plan security strategies to help companies protect their computer systems from outside threats. Once these strategies are set, security analysts carry out the plans to protect the company’s networks. They are highly trained professionals with strong analytical skills and a sharp eye for detail.

What do information security analysts do?

Information security analysts work daily to protect the digital safety of their companies. Toward this goal, their daily tasks include:

  • Planning and strategizing: Security analysts are often responsible for developing security standards for their company and making plans in case of a breach.
  • Monitoring: Analysts also monitor the company’s networks. If they find evidence of a breach, they investigate it and assess what risk it may pose.
  • Maintenance: Updating firewalls and other protection software can protect the company from hackers and other threats.
  • Researching: Information security analysts must stay current on cybersecurity technology and trends.
  • Setting security standards: Analysts are often responsible for developing security standards and taking steps to implement the standards companywide.

Each of those tasks improves the company’s information security and requires a wide range of technical skills, critical thinking and research. Depending on the company, security analysts perform some or all the above tasks.

Where do information security analysts work?

Information security analysts work for a variety of companies. One option is to work for computer companies, testing the security of different programs. Another option is to work in the business and financial sectors, creating security standards that protect customers’ financial information.

Security analysts also work for consulting firms, helping various companies each year. After gaining enough experience, they may even choose to freelance or form a consulting firm of their own.

Required education

Most companies require information security analysts to hold a bachelor’s degree in a computer science field, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A bachelor’s degree in a technology-centered field, such as computer scienceinformation technology or cybersecurity, would be helpful in acquiring basic skills. These degrees prepare students with skills to succeed as an information security analyst and in other cybersecurity careers.

In some cases, high school diploma applicants may be hired into this role if they have extensive practical experience or professional certificates. In other cases, a company may require education in addition to a bachelor’s degree, such as a certificate program or a master’s degree.

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Required skills

While every information security position is not identical, some skills are universally necessary for jobs in this field. Understanding programming, keeping your analytical skills sharp and having an eye for detail are all requirements for success as an information security analyst.

By earning a cybersecurity degree from a reputable university, you can develop the soft and hard skills needed to excel in this field, with the support of well-qualified instructors.

Programming

Cybersecurity professionals need to be proficient in multiple programming languages. These languages may include JavaScript, HTML, Python and SQL.

Understanding how to code is required for two reasons. Information security analysts need to understand programming languages to effectively interpret data presented to them to identify cybersecurity threats. They also need to be able to write code so that they can take effective action against threats at the moment they occur.

Analysis

Security analysts need strong analytical skills in their daily life. If a cybersecurity breach occurs, an analyst needs to be able to access the available data, identify the problems, make a plan and take steps to stop the breach as quickly as possible.

Professionals in information security roles also may be asked to create companywide security standards. This requires analyzing a large amount of information and research and recommending action.

An eye for detail

Any job in computer science and cybersecurity requires a sharp eye for detail. A single mistake in the code of a program can cause widespread problems regarding its effectiveness in preventing breaches.

While security analysts may deal with big-picture issues, such as developing company security standards, they also have to be prepared to keep an eye out for the tiniest details as they monitor their company’s cybersecurity.

Information security analyst career outlook

As technology continues to rapidly advance, careers in the information security field continue to grow. More and more companies are looking to hire cybersecurity professionals to ensure safety against digital threats. The job outlook for information security analysts has a projected growth rate of 35% between 2021 and 2031, according to BLS. That’s about 19,500 openings each year over the decade.

Information technology program options at University of Phoenix

Whether you’re seeking to gain a basic understanding of information technology or cybersecurity, or you’re a working professional looking to expand your skill set, University of Phoenix (UOPX) offers online course collections, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Learn more about undergraduate and graduate online technology degrees from UOPX and start your IT journey today!

  • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology — In this program you'll learn skills including business process, cybersecurity, information systems, operations and systems analysis.
  • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity — This online program teaches skills such as security policies, network security, cybersecurity and more.
  • Master of Science in Cybersecurity — This online program explores in depth such skills and topics as cybersecurity, security policies and vulnerability.
  • Certified Ethical Hacker Course Collection — This course collection can help you prepare for the EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification exam. Topics include the phases of ethical hacking, recognizing weaknesses and vulnerabilities of a system, social engineering, IoT threats, risk mitigation and more.
  • Certified Incident Handler Course Collection — This course collection can help you prepare for the EC-Council Certified Incident Handler (ECIH) certification exam. This specialist certification focuses on how to effectively handle security breaches. 
  • Certified Network Defender Course Collection — This course collection can help you prepare for the entry-level EC-Council Certified Network Defender (CND) certification exam. Courses focus on protecting a network from security breaches before they happen.
  • Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator Course Collection — This course collection can help you prepare for the EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator (CHFI) certification exam. You’ll learn about the latest technologies, tools and methodologies in digital forensics, including the dark web, IoT, malware, the cloud and data forensics.

 

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