What Does a Cybersecurity Analyst Do? (With Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 21, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you have an interest in information technology (IT) infrastructure and computer systems, the position of cybersecurity analyst might be suitable for you. These professionals often build IT systems to help a company protect its valuable information from cyber threats and breaches. Learning more about the duties and responsibilities of this role can make you a competitive candidate for the job. In this article, we answer, "What does a cybersecurity analyst do?", discuss their working conditions, highlight their skills, and provide answers to frequently asked questions.

Related: How to Become a Cyber Security Analyst (Including FAQs)

What does a cybersecurity analyst do?

If you are wondering, "What does a cybersecurity analyst do?", here are the core responsibilities to consider:

Investigating security breaches

Cybersecurity analysts often investigate and report the vulnerabilities in an IT infrastructure. They assess a company's software programs to identify potential breaches and security issues. If they find any malicious software, they may strengthen the security. The role typically requires that they conduct forensics at a digital crime scene. Digital forensics is the process of interpreting, analyzing, documenting, and presenting electronic data to use as evidence.

Cybersecurity analysts often conduct this forensic procedure to check encrypted data, recover deleted files, determine passwords, and find the source of a security breach. These professionals also investigate security alerts to determine their risk level and how to mitigate them.

Performing security assessments

Cybersecurity analysts typically use information security standards, data encryption programs, and firewalls to assess risks. These professionals may evaluate a business's compliance with industry standards and regulatory requirements. Doing this can help them find areas to improve in the current security system. They perform external and internal audits on an organization's computer networks to determine if it can handle cyberattacks. After these professionals conduct an assessment, they compile a detailed report to document a company's security issues and the methods they implemented in response.

Related: 9 IT Career Paths You May Have Never Considered

Installing operating security software

Security threats may occur across operating systems on computers and mobile phones. Cybersecurity analysts usually manage, install, and operate security software for companies. For example, they can install system software to prevent malware from entering a network by strengthening its protection and improving security for mobile devices. The role often requires using comprehensive software to protect a company's website and guard network traffic.

It's essential that cybersecurity analysts ensure few individuals have access to an organization's sensitive data to prevent theft. To do this, they may implement identity and access management (IAM). This framework helps ensure that only approved individuals have access to a company's network. It can also protect the organization from ransomware incidents that employees may inadvertently cause. Ransomware is malicious software that denies a company access to the files on its computer.

Developing security and recovery plans

Cybersecurity analysts develop and promote best practices for information technology. They update a company's disaster recovery plan (DRP) to avoid future breaches. This plan is a formal document that contains instructions and strategies on how a company may respond to cyberattacks. These professionals also ensure that an organization has backups in the situation of a data breach. They can discuss system weaknesses and suggest improvements to management and IT staff. Cybersecurity analysts educate other employees on cybersecurity to mitigate risk.

The role requires collaborating with suppliers to ensure security items meet strong privacy standards. For example, if an organization buys new software, the cybersecurity analyst can communicate the vendor's information technology policies and terms of use to the employees and employer.

Researching security trends

As cybersecurity analysts work with technology resources, it's vital they remain current with IT trends. This can help them understand new threats a company may face to develop preventive measures. These professionals research advanced systems and techniques among hackers. They're also conversant with new terminologies and words in the technology sector.

Ethical hacking

Ethical hacking is the practice of gaining access to a network to expose security risks. Cybersecurity analysts usually perform it with the approval of an organization. These professionals may conduct ethical hacking to check a network's vulnerability through simulating attacks and penetration testing. These security testing methods often mimic a malicious software's likely attack path to identify vulnerabilities in a network environment. While performing ethical hacking, they may use software applications and manual coding knowledge to hack and exploit a company's system and determine ways to fix it.

Related: How to Get Started in a Professional Ethical Hacking Career

Work environment of a cybersecurity analyst

Cybersecurity analysts typically work in corporate offices and laboratories, while others may work remotely. They often work for an average of seven to eight hours daily. As cyberattacks can occur anytime, these professionals may work on weekends and outside business hours to ensure data security. Common employers may include tech companies, government agencies, e-commerce websites, private firms, IT firms, and financial institutions. These professionals can work with other analysts or collaborate with computer security specialists to protect a company's computer system.

What are the relevant skills of a cybersecurity analyst?

The following are the relevant skills that can help cybersecurity analysts perform their role successfully:

Data security

Data is a valuable resource for many companies. Professionals with this skill can protect data through encryption, internet protocols, and access management. They understand the forensic tools and methods essential for finding data and any malicious activity on a network. Cybersecurity analysts protect data from corruption and unauthorized access using tools such as hashing, data encryption, key management, and tokenization. Data security skills can enable you to protect an organization from illegal access and information theft.

Related: What Is Data Security? With 8 Protection Strategies to Use

Intrusion detection

Intrusion detection is a significant skill that cybersecurity analysts require, as their duties involve monitoring network activities for intrusion. This enables them to detect an attack when it occurs quickly. These professionals know how to use intrusion detection systems (IDS), security information and event management (SIEM) products, and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) to identify security violations or suspicious activities.

Network security

Understanding how network systems interact and connect is essential in helping you prevent cyber attacks. Professionals who know network architecture, internet protocols, routing and switching, firewalls, and virtual private networks can easily develop security policies. They also have knowledge of wireless and wired networks and how to secure them.

Communication

Cybersecurity system analysts often create and share reports with a company's executives. Written communication and presentation skills often help them convey a complex topic to other employees. Through this, they can gain support for their ideas to implement the appropriate procedures and systems for protecting a company's data. These cybersecurity professionals may also teach employees how to protect data. Communication skills can help you collaborate with other tech professionals.

Programming

It's essential that cybersecurity analysts have a strong understanding of various programming languages to identify how data breaches occur. Knowing programming languages such as Python, JavaScript, and C+ can help you advance your career. Part of a cybersecurity analyst's duties includes identifying security threats, so having this skill can help you learn how hackers use codes to develop harmful software.

Related: 9 Types of Cybersecurity Threats (With Definitions)

Incident response

Responding quickly when a data breach occurs can allow you to minimize the financial loss a company may incur. It enables you to mitigate any damages before a hacker steals sensitive data. Effective incident handling typically requires familiarity with a company's incident response plan. Knowing how to conduct digital forensics and malware analysis may also be beneficial for having a faster response time to cyberattacks.

FAQs about cybersecurity analysts

Here are answers to frequently asked questions you may have about the duties of a cybersecurity analyst:

Do cybersecurity analysts code?

Many entry-level cybersecurity analyst positions don't require coding skills. To advance to a senior-level role, you may require coding skills, as it can help you better understand information security concepts. As hackers often use Python to gain unauthorized access to a system, it's essential for cybersecurity analysts to have coding knowledge to identify potential vulnerabilities.

Related: 12 Top Jobs in Coding (With Relevant Industry Skills)

What are the common cybersecurity tools?

The following are common cybersecurity tools that these professionals implement to protect data:

  • Antivirus software: This software enables cybersecurity analysts to prevent computer viruses, potential ransomware, and harmful malware from stealing an organization's data.

  • Packet sniffers: They help cybersecurity analysts understand network traffic, analyze protocols, and develop a pattern for identifying suspicious activities.

  • Firewalls: This tool often prevents unauthorized access to data and networks.

How long does it take to become a cybersecurity analyst?

It typically takes four years to obtain a bachelor's degree in information technology. Acquiring a master's degree may take an extra year or two. If you apply for an internship to get an entry-level IT job, you may spend a year before completing it. You can also enroll in certification programs, which typically take a year or two to complete to advance into a more specialized role. With all these, you may spend four to six years before becoming a qualified cybersecurity analyst.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Explore more articles