An In-Depth Look at Cybersecurity Analysts

By Dr. Pam Rowland, Associate Dean, Technology, Grand Canyon University and Dr. Brandy Harris, Assistant Dean, Technology, Grand Canyon University

Female cybersecurity analyst monitoring systems

A career in cybersecurity involves a wide range of job positions that protect systems and data from digital attacks. These attacks can originate within an organization or can be threats from bad actors.

The role of a cybersecurity analyst is an important one within this diverse career field. The need for cybersecurity analysts spans the entire globe, is in every industry, and encompasses a wide variety of responsibilities. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates job growth for information security analysts to increase by about 31% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than average, accounting for an estimated increase of 40,900 jobs in the field.1 This makes cybersecurity jobs one of the fastest-growing careers in the nation.

So, what does a cybersecurity analyst do exactly? Continue reading to learn about this role and how you can prepare for a career in cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity Analyst Job Duties

A cybersecurity analyst helps protect company hardware, software and data networks from cybercriminals. In the analyst role, the primary responsibilities include:

  • Analyzing and understanding company IT infrastructure
  • Monitoring networks at all times and evaluating potential threats
  • Implementing new and improved security measures and policies
  • Building and maintaining the network

A cybersecurity analyst may encrypt data transmissions, receive and review security procedures, and develop plans to keep data available but secure. The role often involves determining which security controls will safeguard digital files from security breaches.

Skills Needed To Be a Cybersecurity Analyst

A cybersecurity analyst must have a deep knowledge of industry leading technology. They also must be able to clearly communicate their findings to multiple stakeholders who may not have the same level of tech knowledge or background. In addition, successful cybersecurity analysts often possess these key skills and qualities:

Analytical

Cybersecurity analysts have to evaluate systems and analyze the data they collect. This analysis leads to understanding how the current cyber defenses are performing and what could be done to enhance their performance. They use this information to assess the risks for the organization.

Innovative

Cybersecurity attacks rarely look the same. The variety of attacks is due to the variety of ways hackers try to steal information. Hackers are often savvy and will try to find new ways to get into information networks. Cybersecurity analysts must be innovative in ensuring the security systems continue to keep their organization's data and networks safe.

Proactive Thinking

Cybersecurity analysts need to anticipate problems before they even happen. In an ever-changing world new threats can become commonplace faster than professionals expect. They need to continuously build systems and networks that are immune to future cyberattacks.

Love For Learning

Being a cybersecurity analyst is beneficial for those who enjoy continual education and learning new skills. These professionals are required to learn about different security devices and how to read various kinds of data.

Why Would a Cybersecurity Degree Help?

A bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity is a great starting point for the entry-level position of a cybersecurity analyst. This undergraduate degree will help you learn the fundamentals of IT networks as well as critical cybersecurity foundations, including

  • Scripting and programming
  • Managing data
  • Penetration testing
  • Hacking and important countermeasures

Steps to Entering the Cybersecurity Job Field

Do your research. Spend time searching and gaining an understanding of the cybersecurity field.

  1. If you already have a technical background or degree, consider a bootcamp or certificate program. This is a great way to get the skills you need to transition into a security role.
  2. A BS degree in a cybersecurity related degree helps set you up for success.
  3. Get involved with other students through clubs and organizations. Conferences are another great way to network and learn about opportunities.

Other Cybersecurity Jobs To Consider

The vast skill demands in the cybersecurity field require a trained workforce with highly diverse skills. Individuals can specialize based on their own unique interests, finding their niche in a cybersecurity career.

The following list is a sampling of other common cybersecurity job titles and some of the tasks those individuals would perform. Keep in mind, these are just a few of the many job options in the cybersecurity field. Some of these positions may require an advanced degree.

Cybersecurity Engineer

  • Develop secure network solutions
  • Engineer computing systems
  • Configure firewalls
  • Manage intrusion and security technology systems
  • Conduct penetration testing

Security Software Developer

  • Develop security software
  • Revise and maintain software
  • Work with the software development lifecycle
  • Resolve security issues in software

Computer Forensics Analyst

  • Assist in investigations of crimes
  • Safeguard integrity of data
  • Recover information from devices
  • Work with law enforcement

Penetration Tester

  • Hack systems using ethical hacking procedures
  • Find vulnerabilities in a system
  • Keep detailed activity logs

Information Security Consultant 

  • Communicate security measures
  • Protect client networks by suggesting plans and policies
  • Manage projects and people

Conclusions

Cybersecurity analysts are an important part to an effective security program for a company. Being able to articulate large amounts of data and effectively monitor networks can greatly benefit any company and its employees. Whether you are looking to further your career in cybersecurity or wanting to switch to a new career path, now is the time to get started in this lucrative field. You can be a part of protecting our nation’s critical infrastructure and economic vitality, thus ensuring your friends and family are protected and can pursue their dreams.

Build a career you’ll love with a BS or graduate degree in cybersecurity from Grand Canyon University. Our College of Science, Engineering and Technology invites you to apply for admission to our Bachelor’s of Science in Cybersecurity or Master of Science in Cybersecurity degree program. Our cybersecurity programs can be completed online or on our beautiful campus. Click on the Request Info button at the top of this page to get started today.

1 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on 2019, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Information Security Analysts

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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