The cybersecurity industry is filled with smart, tech-savvy professionals who work tirelessly to protect their company’s data. Most of these individuals work in the security operations center (SOC), which is where cybersecurity workers monitor, test, and design security programs for their organization.
There are a variety of positions within a SOC, including engineers, penetration testers, and managers. However, the most common position you’ll find in a SOC is a SOC analyst. What exactly does this job entail? How does a SOC analyst affect his or her company overall? Here’s everything you need to know about life as a SOC analyst.
What is a SOC Analyst?
A SOC analyst is a cybersecurity professional who monitors a network’s security system, fights off cyber attacks, and advises their company on ways to mitigate future cyber threats. Typically, this is a job someone holds early in their IT career, and it often serves as a stepping stone to other positions in the future.
There are three types of SOC analyst, often called “Levels” or “Tiers”:
- Level 1: These analysts are usually referred to as “triage specialists.” It is their job to monitor and manage the current network, review any suspicious logins or other security-related incidents, and escalate those incidents to someone higher up within the SOC if necessary.
- Level 2: These analysts work more directly with security hacks and other cyber attacks. They are the “incident responders,” which means they analyze the network following a cyber attack, assess the damage, and collect data to pass along to engineers and other security specialists.
- Level 3: While levels one and two deal with threats in real time, level 3 SOC analysts are more concerned with the threats that are around the corner. These are the “threat hunters,” and they spend their time looking for potential vulnerabilities in the security network through penetration tests, vulnerability assessments, and by studying days from previous attacks.
Why is it important?
There is one very simple reason why SOC analysts are important: cyber attacks are much more common than you might think. According to a Clark School study from the University of Maryland, there is a cyber attack every 39 seconds on average — and many of these attacks target major organizations.
When a hacker steals a company’s data, they are gaining access to private employee information, industry secrets, and other proprietary information they do not have the right to possess. This can spell real trouble for a company — but it’s also a serious problem for the company’s patrons! For example, hackers who access customer records from a retailer can steal names, addresses (both physical and email), credit card numbers and more from anyone who has shopped there!
SOC analysts work to protect both their company’s data and yours. Whether they are monitoring network logins, stopping an attack in real time, or looking for ways to beef up their security system, these professionals have one goal in mind: keep hackers and bad actors away from your data.
But keeping a company’s data secure is no easy task. The internet is much like the wild west, with innovative outlaws coming up with new ways to access a network all the time. In many ways, this is a great thing for SOC analysts. The fast and ever changing pace of cybersecurity means that you’re always learning something new on the job. However, there is a sort of “rhythm” to working in a SOC — and here’s what it looks like.
Daily Life as a SOC Analyst
When a SOC analyst steps into the office in the morning, he or she will usually greet the night shift first and foremost. Most SOCs are operating 24/7, so they’ll want to get a quick debrief from the colleague about what happened overnight. Then, they may review login reports, intrusion detection alerts, and even reports from the IT help desk. If anything looks suspicious, the analyst will collect data on the activity and escalate it to a higher professional.
If everything is quiet during the day, each level of SOC analyst will be engaged with his or her specific duties. They may also write reports for company stakeholders on the organization’s security efforts or simply research the cybersecurity industry to learn about new potential threats and how to mitigate them.
However, if there is an attack everyone springs into action. Faster is always better when your handling a cyber attack, so each tier must work quickly to identify the incident, prevent the hacker from succeeding (or from getting away with too much data), and communicate the incident to both company higher-ups and stakeholders. During these events, SOC analysts must be able to think on their feet and move fast because every minute counts!
The end of the day at a SOC is actually the beginning of someone else’s day. Most analysts will finish their day by giving the next shift a debrief on what happened during their day. They may also do an incident analysis with their team to determine the best way to prevent any attacks that might have occurred from ever happening again.
Life as a SOC analyst is never the same two days in a row, which can make it an attractive career choice for young professionals looking for an exciting and thriving career in the tech industry. But if you want to be a SOC analyst, you’ll need to be dedicated, a great problem-solver, and certified.
Cybersecurity certifications can help you get an edge in this competitive job market and finally land the job of your dreams! Check out Legends of Tech to see how we can help you get started.