Security analysis is the process of assessing all aspects of an organization’s security processes and systems to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Security analysts oversee this process and are responsible for implementing measures that eliminate the organization’s vulnerability to security breaches. These analysts can specialize in fields such as information security, personnel security and physical security.
Security analysts need strong analytical skills to evaluate an organization's security processes, identify loopholes and develop effective solutions. Because they may need to interview employees on various security matters, security analysts need excellent verbal and written communication skills.
Information security analysts focus on safeguarding an organization's computer networks and systems from cyber attacks. They use computer firewalls and encryption software to protect the organization's information, and investigate security breaches to identify the cause and estimate any damage. Information security analysts also conduct research and attend trade events to stay abreast of security trends.
Intelligence analysts specialize in physical security and commonly work in law enforcement and intelligence collection agencies, such as the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency. Their duty is to analyze security management policies and recommend changes that senior leaders can implement to improve the nation's security. These analysts may also analyze terrorist threats and develop measures to mitigate risk of attacks.
Personnel security analysts work for public and private organizations where they work to ensure the safety of workers and government officials. For example, when an organization's top managers are traveling abroad, the personnel security analyst gathers intelligence on the country's political stability and monitors international news to provide travel security information. If he establishes that a specific location is unsafe, he may recommend cancellation of the trip.
Becoming the Analyst
Security analysts come from diverse academic backgrounds. Information security analysts hold bachelor's degrees in information technology or computer science, while personnel security analysts and intelligence analysts often hold bachelor's degrees in security and risk management or criminology. Security analysts who want to advance their careers can pursue graduate degrees in relevant disciplines and obtain professional certifications.
In 2013, information security analysts had an annual mean wage of $91,210, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Simply Hired, an occupational resources website, reports that in 2014, security intelligence analysts and personnel security analysts earned average salaries of $70,000 and $64,000, respectively.
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