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What Does a Security Analyst Do?

A Security Analyst plays a crucial role in safeguarding an organisation's information systems and networks from cyber threats. Their responsibilities can vary depending on the specific needs of the organisation but they are generally involved in monitoring security systems, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and antivirus programmes.

What Does a Security Analyst Do?


Tech Talent Engine


In an era where data breaches, cyber-attacks and online threats have become daily headlines, the need for talented security analysts has increased.

Initially perceived as a niche profession, this role has become a critical component of the digital industry, ensuring data confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

A rapid shift to remote work arrangements has exposed vulnerabilities in corporate networks. As a result, security analysts are vital in fortifying remote access and protecting sensitive information.

Let’s explain what the role of a security analyst involves.

What is a Security Analyst?

A security analyst, sometimes called a cyber security analyst, is a skilled professional responsible for an organisation's digital assets.

This includes identifying vulnerabilities, assessing risks, and implementing security measures that can prevent unauthorised access and data breaches.

These professionals act as both detectives and strategists, employing a combination of technical expertise, analytical thinking, and a proactive approach to mitigate potential security threats.

Security Analyst Roles and Responsibilities

A security analyst has many responsibilities and is often required to pivot to any urgent challenges. As a result, many security analysts can confirm that no day is the same in this role.

1. Threat detection and analysis

Security analysts are constantly monitoring network traffic, system logs and security alerts to detect unusual patterns or activities that may indicate a security breach.

This involves employing a variety of tools and technologies, such as intrusion detection systems (IDS), security information and event management (SIEM) solutions to facilitate real-time monitoring and analysis of potential threats.

One example could be addressing a targeted phishing campaign, which involves cybercriminals sending convincing emails to employees in an organisation and attempting to trick them into disclosing any sensitive information or installing malware.

A security analyst will play a crucial role in identifying and mitigating these threats by analysing email content, monitoring network traffic, and educating employees on recognising and reporting suspicious emails.

2. Vulnerability assessment

Part of a security analyst's role is to identify vulnerabilities within an organisation's structure. This involves regular vulnerability assessments and penetration testing to pinpoint weak spots in the system, which could be exploited by malicious actors.

Vulnerability assessment is a long-term strategy and involves identifying the networks, systems, and applications, as well as the specific goals and objectives of the assessment.

Security analysts may choose appropriate vulnerability scanning and assessment tools such as Nessus, Qualys, or OpenVAS to scan networks and systems to identify known vulnerabilities.

3. Incident response

When a security breach occurs, the security analyst must respond promptly and effectively. This includes containing the incident, eradicating the threat, and analysing the breach to prevent similar incidents in the future.

A well-prepared incident response plan is a vital tool, ensuring you can prevent further escalation.

Incident response often involves forensic analysis to determine how the incident occurred and to collect evidence for potential legal action. As a result, it’s important for security analysts to preserve and analyse digital evidence.

4. Security policy development

Security analysts often contribute to the development and enforcement of security policies and guidelines within an organisation.

These policies are designed to mitigate security risks by outlining best practices, procedures, and controls. Developing policies that adhere to industry regulations is vital to avoiding legal and financial consequences.

Additionally, when new security technologies or tools are introduced, security analysts are responsible for aligning their implementation with security policies. They must ensure that employees follow these policies and that align with industry best practices and compliance requirements.

5. Security awareness training

Educating employees about cybersecurity best practices is crucial. Security analysts may be involved in developing and delivering training programs to ensure that all members of the organisation are security-conscious and know how to recognise and respond to potential threats.

Unfortunately, the human element is often the weakest link in an organisation's security. Employees can inadvertently or unwittingly compromise security through actions such as clicking on phishing emails, sharing passwords, or mishandling sensitive data.

Security awareness training is crucial for educating and empowering employees to recognise security threats and respond appropriately.

Tools of the Trade as a Security Analyst

To carry out their responsibilities of being a security analyst effectively, an array of technologies and tools are used.

  • Firewalls: Firewalls help control incoming and outgoing network traffic, acting as a barrier between a trusted network and potentially malicious traffic.
  • Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS): These systems monitor network traffic and look for patterns of indicative of cyberattacks. IDS alert the security team, while IPS can take automated action to block threats.
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) Systems: SIEM solutions aggregate and analyse log data from various sources, helping security analysts correlate events and detect anomalies.
  • Antivirus Software: Antivirus programs detect and remove malware, viruses, and other malicious software from systems.
  • Penetration Testing Tools: Security analysts use these tools to simulate attacks on their systems, identifying vulnerabilities and weaknesses.
  • Security scanners: These tools scan systems and networks for vulnerabilities, helping security analysts assess the risk posture.
  • Forensic tools: In the event of a breach, forensic tools assist in analysing the incident, identifying the source, and gathering evidence for legal action.

Security Analyst Qualifications and Skills

The role of a security analyst requires a specific skill set and qualifications. Typically, these professionals possess a strong foundation in computer science or related fields.

However, you can still pursue a successful career as a security analyst without going to university. Key skills and qualities of an effective security analyst include:

  • Technical expertise
  • Analytical thinking
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Communications skills
  • Teamwork

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Is a Security Analyst a Secure Job?

In today’s digital landscape, working as a security analyst can be considered a relatively secure job. Over the years, the demand for cybersecurity professionals has grown substantially as organisations face an increasing number of cyber threats and regulatory requirements.

Combined with a shortage of cybersecurity experts, this means that security analysts often enjoy strong job security and competitive salaries. However, it’s important to note that this field is dynamic and ever-evolving.

New threats, technologies and compliance standards continue to emerge, requiring security analysts to adapt and expand their skill sets. As a result, staying up to date in this sector is essential.

If you’re looking for your next role as a security analyst, then you’ve come to the right place. Tech Talent Engine works with over 50 different tech employers in the North East, allowing you to connect with the people who are hiring.

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