So, you’re interested in IT and looking for a career that will challenge you? Want to work on real-world problems that make a real-world difference? Well, it sounds the role of a cyber security analyst might just be the job that you’re looking for!
We’ll give you the low-down on what skills make an expert cyber security analyst, what a typical day as a cyber security analyst looks like and how you can get on the path to becoming one.
Let’s get started!
Uzair Hasan is a Cyber Security Analyst who has been working at NBN Australia for the past four years.
Studies and Experience
Uzair studied a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering, which allowed him to study computer engineering and networks. Following his 4-year degree, Uzair obtained his Masters in Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications.
After landing his job at NBN, Uzair began to climb the ranks by demonstrating his passion for cyber security.
“I got my current role as a result of a secondment I did with the cyber defence team. I was working as a NOC engineer and showed interest and passion in working with cyber defence space, so I received a 2-month secondment opportunity,” said Uzair.
To continually build on his skills, Uzair completed multiple certificates. He completed CCNA after finishing his undergraduate degree, CompTia Security+ during his secondment and CompTia Analyst+ just last year!
What made you want to work in this industry?
Uzair always had a passion for working in the security domain, which only increased with the current boom in the market.
“I was really interested in it as I studied network courses in my Bachelor’s, and I saw some exciting videos about WiFi password hacking and cryptography that made me want to jump into this. I also went through online courses like CEH and Cisco networking,” said Uzair.
What is a Cyber Security Analyst?
Roles and Responsibilities
As a cyber security analyst, your leading roles and responsibilities will consist of assessing systems, conducting tests to validate the security framework, and investigating and reporting vulnerabilities of the IT infrastructure. The primary goal of a cyber security analyst is to monitor and defend systems and networks from any potential cyber-attacks.
Cyber security analysts use EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response) network security tools to protect a company’s security, analyse reports for unusual activity, and evaluate weaknesses before they become compromised.
“As an incident responder, I work daily on the security incidents we receive. It involves a lot of investigation into locating the root cause of the issue by utilising various kinds of security tools,” said Uzair.
Which industries can this career be found in?
As one of the fast-growing career areas, there are various industries where you can find prosperous work as a cyber security analyst. Some of the most common options include:
- Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
- Public Administration and Safety
- Financial and Insurance Services
- Education and Training
Characteristics and Qualities
According to JobOutlook, the major skills that you’ll need in a career as a cyber security analyst include:
- Reading comprehension
- Critical thinking
- Complex problem solving
- Judgement and decision making
Demanding highly technical workers with up-to-date qualifications, Uzair tells us that his cyber career has allowed him to gain a lot of unique skills. He says that he’s learnt a lot about “analytical research, through hands-on experience with world-renowned security tools, as well as knowledge about TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedures) which attackers commonly use.”
Steps to Becoming a Cyber Security Analyst
What should you study?
To become a cyber security analyst, you will need to have completed a Bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, computer science, engineering, information technology, or a related field. It’s also a good idea to consider completing relevant industry certifications, such as Network+, Security+ and CCNA, to show off your skills and keep your knowledge up to date.
If you’re like Uzair, you may choose to go on and gain a postgraduate qualification, such as a Master of Information Systems, to enhance your career opportunities and step up your qualifications.
Here are some undergraduate degrees you should check out:
How long does it take to become a Cyber Security Analyst?
While a full-time duration at university is typically 3-4 years for a Bachelor’s degree within the IT field, students interested in adding on a Masters are looking at an extra two years of study. All in all, you’re looking at around six years before becoming a qualified cyber security analyst (if you complete a postgrad degree).
When you enter the industry, you will be expected to have relevant and up-to-date knowledge of technology trends. As IT knowledge is an essential skill of a cyber security specialist, it’s valuable to have some experience with different hardware, software and networks.
According to Uzair, some standard programs used in the industry include Microsoft Security Suite, Cisco Security Suite and Splunk as a SIEM (security information and event management) solution.
What will this career look like in the future?
How in-demand is this career?
According to JobOutlook, the exceptionally high skill set required of cyber security analysts means there is very strong job growth in the industry. As digitisation across career sectors grow, so does the risk of cyber-attacks, and cyber security analysts are needed more than ever to monitor and secure information-intensive industries.
While the demand for cyber security professionals is already high, the rate of open positions is expected to rise as more companies and organisations hire security analysts to protect their operations.
Are there opportunities to grow or specialise?
There are a range of diverse roles within the cyber security domain, and there are plenty of opportunities to specialise through different technical levels!
Uzair tells us that the role of a cyber security analyst comprises of various sub-domains, such as vulnerability, which deals with finding and reporting vulnerabilities in the system; threat management, which focusses on creating detections; and forensics, which works on recovering lost data. In a large company like NBN Australia, there are separate teams for each role.
“This career has a lot of potential, and I expect myself to grow and become an expert defence analyst who would be able to assist and lead as an incident responder whenever and wherever required,” said Uzair.
|Annual Salary||Future Growth||Skill Level Rating|
|$100,000+||Very strong over the next 5 years||Very high skill|
Influential Trends and the Future of this Industry
As referenced earlier, the cyber security sector is heading for strong growth due to the emerging risks of cyber security challenges, such as cybercrime and cyber-terrorism. In the past, cyber security analysts were mostly designated to industries that involved highly sensitive information concerning sectors like military, oil and gas companies, and finance and banking.
Now, cyber security challenges have transformed into everyday risks to ordinary people and organisations, and it has become an even more significant concern for national security. As such, the industry requires more highly trained experts to address security threats by proactively developing secure systems.
“I reckon that the industry is still in its initial developing phase, yet it will continue to keep on growing as demand in the market grows,” said Uzair.
Best Thing & Worst Thing
What do you enjoy most about this job?
Uzair tells us that the most enjoyable part of his job is all the investigating involved in the process of protecting valuable data and information.
“I really like the investigation part of my role that involves analytical research to get to the root cause of an issue. There is a high level of visibility over the systems and that process is the best part.”
What do you feel is the worst part of this job?
Uzair tells us that the worst part about his job is the stressful and often high-pressure situations he encounters in ensuring the protection of IT systems. The role requires strict attention to detail as any mistakes could lead to severe consequences.
“There is a lot of responsibility involved, and it’s an analyst’s job to contain the attack and remediate it,” said Uzair.
He adds, “The stakes are incredibly high as anyone out there could attack or hack a system if possible and demand hefty prices. You could have an attacker that demands millions in a ransomware attack, or an attacker can disrupt the production service of a company which can result in a loss of millions.”
Advice for Aspiring Cyber Security Analysts
What do you wish you had known before you started working in this career?
The main thing that Uzair wishes that he had known before starting his career were the expectations that companies looked for in a cyber security analyst, particularly concerning their level of security knowledge and skills.
“As attackers exploit vulnerabilities within systems, it’s important that security analysts are aware of how these systems work so they can accurately respond to the vulnerability and avoid any potential attacks,” he explained.
Why should people consider taking on this career?
“Cyber security is the future, and it’s one of the most powerful tools we have for dealing with cyber warfare. I think that anyone interested in understanding how such attacks are happening and what is there to prevent them should really look into this field,” shares Uzair
As a bonus, Uzair tells us that cyber security is a lucrative field for job growth.
“The market is booming, so anyone who wants to have a career which would pay well and last long should also look into it,” he adds.
As a cyber security analyst, Uzair works five days per week for a standard 9-5 shift. Occasionally, his team also has an on-call roster for a week so the 24/7 level 1 staff can contact them about any critical alerts.
He says that he has easily adapted to working from home, and it’s working out great so far!
“It’s been really convenient in managing my work-life balance. I’m more productive at home, but I would definitely prefer to work once a day in a week from the office just to catch up with team members.”
What is the workplace culture like?
Uzair tells us that the workplace culture at NBN is highly collaborative and inclusive, ensuring to accommodate their staff and respect their work-home balance.
“NBN is inclusive of all ethnicities and beliefs, and every decision is based on merit,” said Uzair.
He adds, “They support their staff in terms of cultural background by celebrating cultural festivals and allowing people to work from home during Ramadan. They even have special rooms for prayers.”
Ashley Sullivan is a Content Writer for Art of Smart Education and is currently undertaking a double degree in Communications (Journalism) and a Bachelor of Laws at UTS. Ashley’s articles have been published in The Comma and Central News. She is a film, fashion and fiction enthusiast who enjoys learning about philosophy, psychology and unsolved mysteries in her spare time.