How To Become an Information Security Analyst

In 2013, the median hourly wage for information security analysts was $42.59. The median annual salary was $88,590 [v]

Salary Potential If You Become an Information Security Analyst

In 2013, the median hourly wage for information security analysts was $42.59. The median annual salary was $88,590 [v]

Planning to pursue a career as an information security analyst?

Those who become an information security analyst are typically responsible for planning, implementing, and monitoring information security for an organization. Today, many businesses and other establishments rely on their computer systems and networks for the majority of day-to-day operations. This means that security breaches, such as cyber attacks or unauthorized access to sensitive information, may be a growing concern. An information security analyst usually works to protect a company’s data and IT infrastructure, identify areas of vulnerability, and ensure all personnel are taking proper security measures.

So what is the difference between cyber security and information security? The field of information security usually encompasses cyber security, but it may also include the security of other information types – even physical files. Cyber security specifically refers to the security of information stored in cyberspace, such as in a computer database. However, you may find that both terms are used interchangeably. Because many organizations minimize physical files in favor of storing information in cyberspace, information security analysts typically deal with electronic information exclusively. 

Information Security Analyst Job Description

Information security analysts implement and maintain information security throughout a company. That could mean creating and enforcing company policies regarding information use, as well as assigning various levels of permissions to users. In addition, these professionals may recommend and install security software and use monitoring software to detect and resolve threats. Duties often vary depending on your employer. For example, a large company with multiple branches may have more complex security requirements than a small business. Here are some general duties you may be expected to perform:

  • Evaluate computing environments in order to identify risk and make recommendations for security updates
  • Install anti-virus and malware software, firewalls, and other security software; encrypt data transmissions; implement access management
  • Help develop company information security policy and procedures
  • Train users in secure computing; monitor activity and handle any user violations
  • Perform data loss prevention procedures, such as file backup and recovery
  • Regularly re-audit security measures and make ongoing suggestions to improve security architecture, policies, and protocols
  • Serve as information security expert on projects involving electronic data and computing

Information Security Analyst Qualities and Skill Sets

Information security analysts may benefit from a variety of skill areas, ranging from technical knowledge to business management. If you want to become a n information security analyst, here are a few qualities and skill sets that may be useful for this career path:

  • Knowledge of authentication server software such as Akoura SmartToken; network monitoring software such as CiscoWorks, HP OpenView, or IBM BigBrother; intrusion prevention system IPS software; firewalls; antivirus and malware software
  • Knowledge of networking (switches, routers, etc.), network architecture, DNS, VPN, and more
  • An understanding of potential system and network threats, such as denial of services, Sync attack, malicious code, etc.
  • Industry-specific knowledge – for example, information security analysts in the field of healthcare may need to understand medical information protection policies, such as HIPAA.
  • Knowledge of business administration – it may be helpful to information security analysts to understand how a business or organization is run, in order to identify potential security risks.
  • Communication and management skills – you may be responsible for determining, communicating, and enforcing companywide information security policies

How to Become an Information Security Analyst

What Education do I need to become an Information Security Analyst[i]

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, information security analysts usually need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, programming, or a similar area. Some schools even offer an information security or cyber security degree program. These programs may increase in number as the information security field evolves.

typical entry level degree to become an information security analyst is a bachelors degreeIn some cases, employers may prefer candidates who have earned a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) in information systems. This degree program typically includes both computer science and business courses, and it may take about two years for full-time students to earn.

Training and Career Enhancement[i]

Often, information security analysts need to have prior experience in the field of Information Technology before pursuing a cyber-security career path. For example, they could work as a network or systems administrator or database administrator prior to pursuing an information security analyst career path. After gaining experience, these professionals could also pursue enhanced career opportunities as computer and information systems managers or even chief security officers.

To become an information security analyst certification is frequently preferred or required, and there are a variety of information security certifications that may be earned. Certifications can help demonstrate a general or specific set of skills to a potential employer. Here are several to consider:

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) – this general, widely-recognized certification tests candidates in 10 domains of information security knowledge, including access control, security architecture and design, telecommunications and network security, cryptography, and others.[ii]
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) – this certification may help audit control, assurance, and security professionals to demonstrate their knowledge in areas such as compliance and vulnerabilities assessment.[iii]
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) – designed for information security managers, this certification tests your knowledge of assessing, designing, and managing information security for an enterprise.[iv]

Information Security Analyst Salary Potential and Job Growth

Salary potential when you become an information security analyst varies by position, level of experience, and other factors. However, these stats related to earnings potential and job growth could give you an idea of what the salary potential is in this field.

  • In 2013, the median hourly wage for information security analysts was $42.59. The median annual salary was $88,590.[v]
  • Projected job growth between 2012 and 2022 is 37%, which is much faster than average for all occupations.[vi]
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, cyber attacks have increased in frequency in recent years, impacting job growth in this field. Areas that may experience an increased need for cyber security professionals include the federal government and healthcare.[vii]

Now that you know about how to become an information security analyst, you may want to investigate bachelor's degrees that may help you achieve your goals.

Sources: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-s...  |  http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1122.00

[i] bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm#tab-4 | [ii]isc2.org/cissp/default.aspx | [iii]isaca.org/Certification/CISA-Certified-Information-Systems-Auditor/Pages/default.aspx|[iv]isaca.org/certification/cism-certified-information-security-manager/pages/default.aspx|[v] bls.gov/oes/current/oes151122.htm | [vi]bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm#tab-1 | [vii] bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm#tab-6

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