Understanding the Role of Cybersecurity Analysts
By contributor Lyan Ware
For decades, the media has portrayed digital defenders as lonely hackers: hoodie-wearing, sleepy-eyed anti-heroes and nerdy heist-mates performing vigilante stunts with lightning-fast clickity-clackity antics. In reality, we call these cyber warriors “cybersecurity analysts”. They usually work in teams, not alone.
Cybersecurity analysts are the frontline defenders of an organization’s information systems and data. They are responsible for identifying, preventing, and mitigating cybersecurity threats and attacks. Their role is not only about responding to incidents but also involves proactively assessing and strengthening an organization’s security posture.
That may not look or sound nearly as glamorous or provocative as the media might have you believe, but that in no way diminishes the significance of the work.
The key responsibilities of a cybersecurity analyst are as follows: threat monitoring & analysis, incident response, vulnerability assessment, security operations, security policy & compliance, and cyber threat intelligence. Cybersecurity analysts continuously monitor networks, systems, and applications to identify potential threats or anomalies in real-time. This includes looking at network traffic with a tool like Wireshark or using various threat detection tools such as Splunk, Crowdstrike, or SolarWinds. When a security incident occurs, analysts must quickly assess the situation, contain the threat, and investigate the root cause to prevent future occurrences.
In order to maintain an organization’s security health, periodic assessments are conducted by analysts to identify weaknesses in the organization’s infrastructure, applications, or processes. They may also perform cross-training to ensure that the organization complies with relevant security standards, regulations, and best practices. It is imperative that analysts stay up to date with the latest cybersecurity threats and trends to proactively defend against emerging risks. This may include networking and involvement in cybersecurity social media circles: meetups, forums, conferences, etc. It can also be as simple as subscribing and regularly listening to cybersecurity podcasts.
For those considering a career as a cybersecurity analyst, the skills and qualifications you’ll need in your arsenal include having a strong, technical proficiency in understanding networking, operating systems, and security tools—essentials for effective threat detection and incident response. Earning IT-related certifications from CompTIA, such as the CompTIA Security+ or CySA+ cert, will attest to your proficiency. Some valuable soft skills you can apply to this role include critical thinking, problem solving, and effective communication skills. The ability to find innovative solutions quickly is critical for those in this career field. And in order to remain competitive, continuous learning is absolutely mandatory, not only for maintaining these certifications, but also to keep up with the rapidly evolving landscape of the digital world.
In today’s interconnected world, data breaches and cyberattacks can have severe consequences, including financial losses, reputational damage, and legal implications. There have even been cases of structural crisis at the level of governmental institutions occurring due to cyber-attacks. Cybersecurity analysts play a pivotal role in reducing these risks and ensuring organizational continuity and recovery in cases where attacks cannot be prevented. For businesses, their work contributes to maintaining trust with customers, partners, and stakeholders.
We’ve determined that cybersecurity analysts are the unsung heroes of the digital age, working diligently behind the scenes to safeguard organizations from the ever-increasing threat of cyberattacks. Dispelling the media’s glamorous portrayals, these professionals operate as a cohesive team, employing technical expertise and a range of skills to detect, prevent, and respond to security incidents effectively. Their role encompasses not only incident response but also proactive measures to fortify an organization’s defenses. With the ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape, continuous learning and staying abreast of emerging trends are essential for success in this critical field. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, the significance of cybersecurity analysts cannot be overstated, as they shield organizations—and ultimately, people—from devastating consequences.