Information Security Analyst

| ComputerScience.org Staff Updated on June 27, 2022

Information Security Analyst
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Information security analysts keep their companies' data and computer systems safe from cyberattacks. They install protective software, watch for potential breaches, and respond to any attacks that do occur.

Companies across industries need information security analysts. Top employers include computer systems design and related services, finance and insurance, and information.

Information security analysts usually need a computer science-related bachelor's degree. Some companies look for an MBA in information systems. Industry-standard certifications can boost employment prospects for professionals in the field.

On this page, readers can learn about security analyst careers. We take a close look at topics like necessary skills, salary potential, and related occupations.

History of Information Security Analysts

Since the internet's earliest beginnings, people have explored ways to hijack it. In 1971, researcher Bob Thomas created a program called Creeper that could infiltrate a computer network. At the time, computers were connected through phone lines. Companies still assumed they could protect their systems by securing physical hard drives.

Many professionals hold that Thomas invented modern cybersecurity. On his heels, Ray Tomlinson used Thomas's findings to create the first computer worm. Tomlinson, who invented email, also created the first antivirus program by coding software to block the worm.

Today, large companies often face data breaches. Well-known corporations like Yahoo, Facebook, and Marriott have all experienced major breaches.

Information security analysts must stay up to date on the latest hacking innovations so they can protect their organizations.

What Does an Information Security Analyst Do?

A security analyst's job revolves around data and network protection. By staying informed about changes in this fast-evolving field, these professionals can protect their companies' digital assets. While keeping up with the changes can be a challenge, it may also add excitement.

Information security analysts may work with executives, IT teams, and colleagues across their organizations. They establish company security protocols, sometimes training employees about best practices. They conduct tests to search for system weaknesses. They also develop response plans in case of a breach.

Aside from the challenge of staying up to date with current technology, information security analysts may sometimes deal with stressful situations if a cyberattack does occur.

The section below discusses key skills that can influence success for information security analysts.


Key Soft Skills for Information Security Analysts


Problem-Solving

Information security analysts often need to solve complicated problems. Part of the job involves searching for problems to fix. When a breach occurs, analysts must act quickly. Problem-solving demands teamwork, flexibility, and innovation.

Analysis

Security analysts need to review data regularly. They analyze how their organizations use computer and network systems and store information. Analysts also need to examine data when an issue arises so they can solve the problem efficiently.

Attention to Detail

Because malicious code can hide in computer systems for a long time, information security analysts need to keep a close eye on their organizations' technology. Small issues can indicate larger problems, and detail-oriented analysts can catch issues early.

Communication

Information security analysts must use active listening when working with team members and colleagues. Teamwork is crucial in cybersecurity, and security analysts need to communicate important information to staff throughout the organization.

Key Hard Skills for Information Security Analysts


Software and Technology

Important tools for information security analysts include various databases along with software for development, programming, network monitoring, and virus protection. Security analysts need to know industry-standard programs like Blackboard, Apache Ant, Symantec, and Django.

Computer Science

A solid understanding of computer science principles should underpin security analysts' work. They regularly deal with both hardware and software systems. They must also write code to prevent and respond to cyberattacks.

Engineering and Electronics

Information security analysts need to understand how their organizations use technology. They need a strong working knowledge of how technology and networks function so they can solve problems effectively.

Management

Often leading IT teams, information security analysts need good administration skills. They must develop, present, and monitor plans and protocols. They may also oversee departmental budgets.

A Day in the Life of an Information Security Analyst

Information security analysts test computer systems regularly to make sure they work as expected. They also research new practices in the field and implement new security measures.

If a cyberattack occurs, security analysts must set aside current projects to respond to the disaster. They then write detailed incident reports for management and work to prevent future breaches.

Information Security Analyst Salary and Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), information security analysts earned a median annual salary of $103,590 as of 2020. The BLS projects that security analyst jobs will grow by 33% from 2020-2030, indicating massive growth in the field.

Salary potential for information security analysts can vary by location, industry, experience, and education. California is the top-paying state for information security analysts, featuring an average annual salary of $125,990 as of 2020. Top-paying industries include online shopping, information services, and electronic component manufacturing.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), information security analysts earned a median annual salary of $103,590 as of 2020.

Payscale reports that entry-level security analysts made an average annual salary of $60,740 as of January 2022. With 5-9 years of experience, the average salary increases to $82,990.

$103,590

Median Annual Salary

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

How to Become an Information Security Analyst

Information security analysts usually need at least a bachelor's degree. Some employers may accept experience as an alternate pathway, but the job requires significant technical skills. A degree can provide the necessary technical training. Some employers even prefer security analysts who hold an MBA.

Security analysts can sometimes gain traction in the job search by completing a cybersecurity bootcamp.

Professional certifications can help aspiring security analysts to secure a position or promotion. Information security analysts may pursue credentials like certified information systems security professional (CISSP), global information assurance certification (GIAC), or certified information systems auditor (CISA).

The list below provides information on various paths to information security analyst careers.

1

Cybersecurity Bootcamps

Learn how to jumpstart a cybersecurity career by completing a job-focused bootcamp.
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1

Certifications for Computer Science Professionals

Explore ways to increase employability through industry-standard professional certifications.
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Similar Specializations and Career Paths

Information security analysts hold advanced computer science and network expertise. With these skills, they can pursue many tech careers.

Analysts may advance to work as computer and information systems managers, making big-picture decisions about their organization's technology. They might also focus on an aspect they like, perhaps digging deeper into coding as a software developer.

Career paths for information security analysts can include:

  • Network Architects: Network architects specialize in the communication networks side of computer engineering. These systems can include local area networks, company-wide networks, and cloud computing. Their daily tasks include designing networks, analyzing data traffic, and upgrading hardware. They also troubleshoot network and information security issues.
  • Systems Manager: These professionals collaborate with top executives and departmental managers. Computer and information systems managers oversee their organization's big-picture tech decisions. They need a solid understanding of how their company works and an ability to research the right technology to fit its needs. They manage staff, handle budgets, and work with vendors.
  • Information Researcher: Computer and information research scientists, or information researchers, focus on new ideas in the field. They may specialize in areas like computing or robotics. These researchers generate innovative ideas to improve technology. The largest employers of information researchers include the federal government, scientific research and development, and computer systems design.
  • Software Developer: Software developers create computer programs. These professionals may specialize in operating systems, software programs, or applications. They research what types of software their organization, or the wider market, could use. They then develop programs to meet those needs. During product development, they collaborate with programmers and conduct regular tests to make sure the software functions properly.
  • Network Administrator: Network administrators keep their organization's computer networks functioning during regular operations. They take responsibility for local and wide area networks, plus other data systems their organization uses. They set up new systems, troubleshoot problems, and perform system updates. Sometimes, they also train staff in technology-related tasks.

Analysts may advance to work as computer and information systems managers, making big-picture decisions about their organization's technology.

Career

Required Education

Required Experience

Median Annual Salary

Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)

Network Architects

Bachelor's Degree

5 years or more

$116, 780

5%

Systems Manager

Bachelor's Degree

5 years or more

$151,150

11%

Information Researcher

Master's Degree

Entry level upon master's degree

$126,830

22%

Software Developer

Bachelor's Degree

Entry level upon degree; internships may be preferred

$110,140

22%

Network Administrator

Bachelor's Degree

Entry-level upon degree

$84,810

5%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Resources for Information Security Analysts

Professional organizations provide many benefits to their members. They keep members apprised about industry news, an important role in a field that changes quickly. They also offer networking opportunities, workshops, and job resources.

Professional Organizations for Information Security Analysts

This cybersecurity organization focuses on core values of integrity, excellence and respect. ISSA serves its membership of information security professionals through local chapters, online and in-person seminars, and an industry journal. ACM welcomes computer professionals from all fields. The association embraces a mission of continuing education and professional excellence. Member benefits include online books and resources, discounts, and an online job board. This organization provides industry-standard certifications like CySA+, PenTest+, and CASP+. Members can connect with partner organizations through interest groups and communities. CompTIA also offers events, training, and online tools. With a mission to use technology to benefit everyone, IEEE accepts members from all engineering and computing occupations. Membership benefits include conferences, online networking, collaborative groups, and a professional profile.

Information Security Analyst Questions

How do I become a security analyst?

Security analysts usually need at least a bachelor's degree. Some employers prefer an MBA. Applicants can also increase employability through professional credentials like CISSP, GIAC, or CISA.

How long does it take to become an information security analyst?

A typical bachelor's degree takes four years to complete. Some online programs offer accelerated options. Earning an MBA may take another 1.5-2 years.

What is an IT analyst?

IT analysts, or security analysts, protect their organizations' technology from cyberattacks. They activate preventative measures, establish response plans, and handle emergencies. They may also oversee staff.

Is information security analyst a hard career?

To protect their organizations from cyberattacks, information security analysts need to stay up to date on current technology. They need a solid background in computer science. The job may include stressful moments if breaches do occur.

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