Today’s world takes place largely online. People connect with one another through apps and websites, businesses operate through online stores, and even banks manage huge sums of money in the digital sphere.
With so much happening in cyberspace, it should be no surprise that data hacking is a serious risk. Because of this, the cybersecurity industry has grown exponentially; in fact, cybersecurity spending worldwide has risen from $3.5 million in 2004 to an estimated $1 trillion this year.
As cybersecurity grows, it creates several job opportunities for tech-savvy professionals. One of these positions is the SOC analyst, or “Security Operations Center” analyst. A SOC analyst is a cybersecurity professional who works to assess an organization’s IT infrastructure by monitoring the system for threats or potential weaknesses.
SOC Analyst Job Description
To better understand what a SOC analyst does, we must first describe their working environment. A security operations center typically consists of a team of cybersecurity professionals who work together to protect a company’s digital presence. This team can be an internal branch of the company or a group of outsourced professionals, but their goal is the same: protect the organization’s data.
On most days, a SOC analyst’s job is preventative. He or she will assess the company’s current security systems and look for weaknesses that need to be fixed. This means looking at suspicious emails, firewall alerts, network logs, and any other information that could point to a weak link in the organization’s cybersecurity.
SOC analysts also need to preempt potential threats from hackers. Analysts need to stay abreast of new types of cyberattacks and arm the system against them by installing new security tools or developing new security strategies for the organization.
If an organization does suffer a cyber attack, the SOC analyst will need to jump into action. He or she will need to assess the threat, quickly and effectively mitigate it, and then assess how this attack will impact the business. SOC analysts may even serve an advisory role after an attack, helping the organization move forward from the incident with a stronger system overall.
How to Become a SOC Analyst
There are three primary tiers of SOC analyst:
- Tier 1: Individuals who monitor security tools daily and review security incidences to assess their urgency
- Tier 2: Individuals who respond to urgent cyber threats, repair any damage to the system, assess the impact the attack will have on the company and collect data for further cybersecurity improvements
- Tier 3: Individuals who look for flaws in the organization’s cybersecurity by conducting penetration tests and combing through datasets to find vulnerabilities
While each type of SOC analyst covers a special area, all SOC analysts need a basic understanding of computer forensics, malware, network defense, and problem-solving.
To become a SOC analyst, you will need a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a relevant field, as well as at least one year of on-the-job IT experience.
Some companies also require a SOC certification; several online training programs can earn you the title of Certified SOC Analyst, Certified Ethical Hacker, or Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate. While these certifications aren’t always required, they can be very useful as you further your cybersecurity career.
Once you have your education, your certification, and your work experience, you’ll be ready to transition from IT professional to SOC analyst.
Most individuals start their career in an entry-level position, usually as a Tier 1 SOC analyst who spends all their time scanning endless firewall alerts. This early work may seem tedious to some, but SOC analysts can still have engaging and lucrative careers at the entry level. Salaries range from 50,000 to 75,000, with the median wage around $67,332, according to salary.com.
How do you move up the ladder as a SOC analyst? The best way to get a promotion in the cybersecurity industry is to prove your mettle on the job. If you work hard, stay on top of potential threats, and effectively protect your organization, you can expect to have a thriving career in cybersecurity.
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