How to Become an Information Security Analyst

If you have a love for computers, a sense of how digital networks and systems work and like to work with cutting edge technology, you should consider pursuing a career in information technology as a security analyst.

The men and women who work in this field often work as part of an IT team and develop security measures to protect an organization's databases, which can be full of sensitive files like client information, financial records and private business transactions. As cyber attack methods grow in complexity and frequency, more companies will seek the expertise of security analysts to help prevent digital crises.

What do information security analysts do?
Information security analysts work in a variety of positions within computer companies, consulting firms and financial institutions. Employers ask their analysts to monitor networks for the smallest security breaches. Security specialists also identify, investigate and neutralize cyber threats as the breaches occur. Professional analysts install and use multiple security systems and types of software, such as firewalls, data encryption programs and secure socket layers. In the event of a breach, they document the source and extent of the attack.

Other responsibilities include performing security penetration testing, in which a cyber threat is simulated in order to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the existing network's security. Security analysts also find the strengths within every aspect of data protection protocols and determine where possible weaknesses can be exploited. After they conduct a full inspection of the organization's network, they help plan, develop and carry out security standards and best practices that best meet the needs of the company. 

What qualifications should information security analysts have?
Many information security analysts earn their bachelor's degree in computer science, programming or other related fields. These courses often include multiple programming languages, design structures, interface design, codes and cryptography, operating system theories and visual analytics.

Why should I pursue a career as an information security analyst?
There are many reasons why a person would want to become an information security analyst. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth is expected to increase 37 percent through 2022. Analysts are also well paid, earning an average salary of $86,170, with the top 10 percent of workers earning more than $135,600. Aside from the financial benefits, security specialists experience a high level of job satisfaction, a good balance between work and personal lives and excellent health and wellness benefits.

This article is sponsored by Western Governors University, a nonprofit, accredited, online university. WGU offers bachelor's and master's online degree programs in IT. To find out more, please visit www.wgu.edu/wisecareers_IT.

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