Information Security Analysts Offer Frontline Defense Against Cyber Attacks

By outwitting the bad guys, they help companies avoid cyber attacks and protect valuable information.

By Curtis Ross
Posted 2012

Information Security Analysts
Information Security Analysts

Information Security Analysts are an organization’s Secret Service, armed with keyboards instead of guns. They are the front-line defense against cyber attacks on information.

As hackers become more daring and sophisticated, so too must an organization’s cyber security forces.

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Also, has security attacks become more prevalent, the need for experts able to combat them has increased dramatically and should continue to grow.

What do Information Security Analysts Do?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the job description of an Information Security Analyst as:

  • Researching the latest information technology security trends

  • Monitoring an organization’s networks for security breaches and investigating violations

  • Planning and implementing an organization’s security procedures

  • Developing security standards and best practices for their organization

  • Installing and using software, such as firewalls and data encryption programs, to protect sensitive information

  • Recommending security enhancements to management or senior IT staff

  • Helping computer users when they need to install or learn about new security products and procedures

    Staying Ahead of Hackers Requires Knowledge and Planning

    Information Security Analysts work to stay ahead of hackers, and must be up-to-date not only on the latest security technology developments, but also on the nefarious methods used by hackers attempting to breach their organization’s security.

    Security analysts also must design and, if necessary, implement an organization’s disaster recovery plan. This allows the organization’s information technology department to continue to function should an emergency take place.

    It also involves taking preventative measures such as backing up information to an offsite location, as well as developing plans to restore IT as quickly as possible following a breach or breakdown. Information security analysts constantly test recovery plans in order to prepared for any emergency.

    Cyber security conferences are an invaluable tool, bringing information security analysts together to share experiences from the frontlines of the war against hackers.

    Outwitting the Bad Guys Pays Well

    It’s a desirable field in terms of both pay and job availability. In 2010, the average annual salary was $75,660, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also predicts a 22% increase in jobs by 2020.

    Plus, there’s the thrill and satisfaction of outsmarting the bad guys., the Web site of The SANS (Admin, Audit, Network, Security) Institute offers descriptions and quotes from information security analysts on a page titled,“The 20 Coolest Jobs in Information Security.”

    Some of these include Information Security Crime Investigator/Forensics Expert (“The thrill of the hunt! You never encounter the same crime twice!”), System, Network, and/or Web Penetration Tester (“You can be a hacker, but do it legally and get paid a lot of money!”) and Director of Security.

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    A bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field – MIS (Management Information Systems) is one of the most applicable fields of study - most often is required, as is experience in a related occupation such as information technology or programming.

    Some schools have instituted information security programs, and the BLS says these may become a common path to employment in this field.

    An MBA in information systems also is desirable, and required in some situations. This usually requires two years of post-graduate study including both business and computer courses.

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