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What you need to know about a career as an information security analyst

Information security analyst careers ranked No. 5 among the most in-demand jobs of 2017, according to CNBC. This placement is a testament to the importance of information technology positions as new innovations continue to be incorporated into everyday business as well as the fact that jobs in information security can help fight cyber threats and protect organizations’ sensitive materials.

Focusing on security measures to protect computer networks and data, an information security analyst plans, implements, monitors and upgrades systems to ensure appropriate security controls are in place. From encrypting data transmissions to erecting firewalls, they work to conceal confidential information, especially as it’s being transferred. These professionals not only safeguard digital files but also protect companies’ electronic infrastructures.

If considering a career as an information security analyst, you must thoroughly grasp the risks and responses necessary to keep an organization safe from cyber threats. This understanding, along with the right technical background, which you can acquire through a combination of work experience and education, can be crucial when applying for positions in this field.

With a strong emphasis on security-related subjects, an online Master of Science in Information Technology degree can help individuals prepare to lead technical teams and seek increased responsibilities and leadership opportunities in their current or future organizations. An education focused on advanced technology skills in cybersecurity, networking and information systems can improve students’ technical expertise while increasing their knowledge of today’s cyber system infrastructure. Beyond the initial core courses, an MS in Information Technology may offer specific areas of focus, allowing students to specialize in a security-related concentration.

A typical day in the life an information security analyst

Responsibilities in this role are continually expanding with cyberattacks on the rise, which means that the information security analyst job description can vary based on threats to IT functionality and the safety of an organization’s digital operations. In this position, you’re responsible for providing cybersecurity solutions for your company, which may involve extensive research and data curation to develop security strategies that help maximize productivity. Once you’re familiar with your company’s security needs, you may be involved in tasks such as:

  • Implementing security principles that follow privacy policies
  • Developing security standards and best practices to share with colleagues
  • Establishing safeguards for computer files against unauthorized modification, destruction or disclosure
  • Locating security threats, breaches or vulnerabilities through frequent monitoring of digital logs and computer traffic along with regular risk assessment
  • Investigating violations and reporting the details of any breaches and the extent of the damages to key stakeholders
  • Collecting feedback from users to assess needs and properly addressing them from a security perspective
  • Upgrading software to minimize risk

In addition to reacting to threats, it’s important for an information security analyst to be prepared for incidents before they occur. This involves testing systems and running attack simulations to identify potential vulnerabilities in an organization’s operations before an outside source does. They also need to be informed of the latest research in IT security to recommend enhancements to keep existing systems well protected.

A closer look at the professional landscape of an information security analyst

Growth in the information security analysis field, at 28 percent, is well above the national average for all jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Demand is high as a result of the frequency of cyberattacks and the increasing need for security analysis and innovative solutions to stop hackers and protect company data. This growth is projected to create upward of 10,000 job openings between 2016 and 2026, per O*Net OnLine.

The median information security analyst salary as of 2017 was $95,500, according to O*Net OnLine, and being in this position offers a potential for advancement. This can include roles such as information systems engineer, security engineer or IT security architect.

Becoming an information security analyst

Holding a position that focuses on a potentially volatile area of a business’ operations requires information security analysts to have a broad set of skills that extend beyond technical knowledge and awareness of security protocols. Being a strong multitasker with the ability to manage time effectively and pay close attention to detail are traits that may come into play when dealing with a security breach. Because cyberattacks can be difficult to detect, professionals in this role need to thoroughly monitor computer systems, often checking for minor changes in performance, no matter what other activities they may be working on.

Once they identify issues, proficiency in problem-solving will help information security analysts respond quickly to alerts, while strong analytical skills can help establish security protocols and policies to prevent breaches from recurring.

If pursuing this career, professionals must understand that employers often prefer that candidates applying to information security analyst positions have a considerable amount of related work experience. Additionally, certain certificates that validate an applicant’s technical knowledge may prove useful. Such credentials can range from general information security certificates to those with a more narrow focus, like penetration testing or systems auditing.

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional is one credential employers often want candidates to hold. This certification is the most globally recognized standard of achievement in the information systems security industry. A qualification like this, paired with an advanced degree in a computer-related field, can give candidates a strong competitive edge in the job market.

Learn more about your potential career as an information security analyst

Playing such an important role in a company means information security analysts should possess strong IT skills and expertise. To best manage the security of information systems, these analysts must be familiar with the asset frameworks that they protect. This understanding of networks systems, which can be obtained from a fully-rounded master’s degree in IT, can help them identify where vulnerabilities may arise.

With the ASU Online Master of Science in Information Technology, students can advance their technical proficiencies to help organizations combat current and emerging cyber threats. The program aims to prepare graduates to obtain IT positions in almost any industry. With a combination of advanced courses in information security and security analysis as well as theoretical classes on cybersecurity ethics, the online MS in Information Technology is just one way an aspiring professional can become an authority on cyber vulnerabilities, threat remediation and risk management to succeed in a career as an information security analyst.

Sources:

CNBC – 9 Most In-Demand Jobs of 2017
O*Net OnLine – Information Security Analysts
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Information Security Analysts
(ISC)² – CISSP – The World's Premier Cybersecurity Certification
PayScale – Information Security Analyst Salary
ASU Online – Master of Science in Information Technology

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