Businesses today are overflowing with data. The amount of data produced every day is truly staggering. A study by Forbes a few years ago confirmed the Data Explosion. It was found in the study that nearly 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is generated every day. Because of this Data Explosion, it has become seemingly difficult to capture, process, and store big or complex datasets.
With every sector, from Financial Institutions to the Healthcare Industry, moving their Information Systems online, there has been an ever-increasing pressure to protect computer systems and networks from unauthorized intrusions and security breaches. The ever-evolving nature of technology, along with the possible benefits, also brings in related security risks and preventing Cyber Crime has thus become a challenging responsibility.
There are bad guys out in the world working around the clock trying to break into your networks by distributing Malware. This means your networks and the information they transmit can be susceptible to exploitation. In short, you could say, they want what you have.
Security Data Analysts or Cyber Security Data Analysts, as the name suggests, are often the only individuals standing between hackers and a company’s networks. But this front line is behind a screen and not on the streets.
This article provides a detailed overview of the role of Data Analytics in Cyber Security. This article is about who Security Data Analysts are, and what are their Key Roles and Responsibilities.
Table of Contents
Introduction to Cyber Security and Data Analytics
Cyber Security is usually defined as the use of techniques or skills to protect computer networks and digital assets from attack. You probably know someone who has been hacked or even just lost control of their Facebook account for a few hours, and the bigger attacks are always in the news. Pegasus Spyware, rings a bell? Data breaches in large organizations/corporations mean that millions of people can have their data stolen. Cyber Security experts are the ones who are able to fight Cyber Criminals on their own turf, stopping them from breaking into your networks and accessing important information.
Cyber Security Analysts play a vital role in assessing Cyber Threats, installing security systems, identifying and correcting the flaws in those security systems from time to time, and, in the event of a breach, implementing a recovery plan.
But how do you identify Cyber Threats or malicious activities in the first place?
That’s where Data Analytics comes in. Fortunately, Data Analysis can be used to identify the internal and external risks that a business may face with the exponential growth of technology and the Internet. Data Analysis can be used to alert businesses about potential fraud or scams, unusual network traffic patterns, and security breaches. It converts data into valuable insights, helping businesses improve their overall security posture.
As the name suggests, a Security Data Analyst performs Data Analysis in the context of Cyber Security. More specifically, a Security Data Analyst analyzes data from multiple sources in order to produce conclusions that would be useful for improving security. Data Analytics for Cyber Security focuses on monitoring and analyzing network traffic data, in order to prevent or identify malicious activities.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the role of Data Analytics in Cyber Security, buckle up, and let’s dive right into the Roles & Responsibilities of a Security Data Analyst.
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6 Key Responsibilities of a Security Data Analyst
The responsibilities of a Cyber Security Data Analyst vary from place to place and depend on a variety of factors. But a majority of Security Data Analysts will have to use Data Analysis techniques to create valuable intelligence to further improve the security system. To do so, the analyst needs to be well versed in all stages of Data Analytics. Given below are the 6 Key Responsibilities of a Cyber Data Analyst:
1) Data Mining
Collecting data from the company database or extracting it from external sources to do any sort of research is one of the major roles of not just a Security Data Analyst, but any Data Analyst for that matter. Data Mining is a process of extracting and structuring large raw datasets, and recognizing the various patterns in the data through mathematical and computational algorithms. This helps to generate new information and unlock various valuable insights. Cyber Security Data Analysts need to monitor the large set of activities related to the systems and user behaviour, especially potentially suspicious behaviour, in order to keep threats away.
Data Cleaning is the next step in the overall data preparation process. It is the process of analyzing and identifying relevant data from the raw organizational datasets to make security decisions. Data Cleaning also involves standardizing the data into a single format.
2) Analyzing Data
Needless to say, this role is a must for any Data Analyst. Data Analytics is the art of exploring the facts from the data but to answer a specific question. It is the process of evaluating data using analytical and logical reasoning to examine each data component collected from security systems. A Security Data Analyst needs to analyze network traffic to detect patterns that indicate a potential attack.
A Cyber Security Data Analyst uses standard Security Analytics Tools to analyze and interpret the data.
3) Behavioral Analytics
A Security Data Analyst makes use of Behavioral Analytics to examine the patterns and behavioural trends of users and systems to identify suspicious behaviour that could indicate a potential security attack or breach.
4) Real-Time Intrusion Detection
It isn’t easy to monitor and hunt down vulnerabilities in real-time. With the help of Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tools, it is possible for a Cyber Data Analyst to fetch data and carry out real-time analysis of security alerts generated by network devices and applications. This real-time analytics helps to detect any malicious activities happening in the system.
Cyber Data Analysts also analyze the historical and current data from security systems for studying and predicting the threat patterns. This approach can help in preventing the company from future Cyber Attacks.
Cyber Security Data Analysts work to protect a company’s computer systems and networks from Cyber Attacks. But in reality, no system can be made invulnerable. So, what is the role of a Cyber Data Analyst after a Cyber Attack?
With the help of various Forensic Tools, a Cyber Data Analyst gathers Digital Evidence from a system that was compromised. They work on cases following an attack to collect Digital Evidence to retrieve information and to identify the root cause. They also intend to recover the deleted or stolen data. Forensic Tools are also used to investigate past or ongoing attacks, to determine how the attackers broke into the network systems, and hence identifying security vulnerabilities that could leave the company susceptible to a future attack.
6) Visualization and Reporting
Being able to tell a compelling story with data is crucial in getting your point across. Therefore, Data Visualization can have a make-or-break effect on your overall effort. The Data Analyst needs to know how to report results in a form that is understandable to the stakeholders. Analysts use high-quality charts and graphs to present their findings in a clear and concise way.
Apart from these niche roles, a Cyber Data Analyst may need to perform some general roles as well, like, conducting Security Assessments, performing Security Audits, formulating Security Policies and Procedures, etc.
6 Key Skills of a Security Data Analyst
Looking for a career in Cyber Security? Having defined the Roles and Responsibilities of Security Data Analysts, let’s discuss what it takes to become one. Here are some important skills that today’s Cyber Security Data Analysts should possess:
1) Knowledge of Computer Science
The role of a Cyber Data Analyst spans several disciplines. The Cyber Security Data Analyst needs to be familiar with the fundamentals of Computer Science for all stages of the Data Analysis Process, from identifying the required data to analyzing it and drawing conclusions.
2) Knowledge of Cyber Security
Of course, a Cyber Data Analyst also requires a background in Cyber Security. As discussed, Cyber Data Analysts often work to identify potential vulnerabilities in network systems. An Analyst should understand common vulnerabilities, the threats that they pose, and ways to contain these risks.
3) Experience in Working with Data
The most crucial skill that any Data Analyst should have is a penchant for data and the knowledge of how data evolves in an organization. This means he should come from a background of working with data. He/she needs to leverage these skills to analyze the data coming from various network systems.
4) Knowledge of Programming Languages
The one thing that intimidates most people about Cyber Security is the idea that you need to know how to program a computer. Understanding and writing codes can be a very valuable skill. Expertise in at least one Programming Language will be very helpful as Programming Languages like Python and R are used to analyze data and interpret the results.
5) Knowledge of Data Engineering Tools
Experience in working with Data Engineering Tools can be a tremendous advantage for any Data Analyst. Exposure to the Cloud-Based Data Warehouses like Amazon Redshift, Snowflake, and Cloud-Based ETL Tools like Hevo Data, AWS Glue, etc. are an added advantage.
6) Knowledge of Computer Forensics
Basic knowledge of Computer Forensics aids in creating evidence in the event of a breach.
This article provided a detailed overview of the Roles and Responsibilities of a Security Data Analyst. Data Analytics for Cyber Security can do wonders and it can really strengthen the ability of organizations to deal with attacks and data breaches.
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Does the idea of a career in Cyber Security intrigue you? Share your thoughts on the role of a Cyber Data Analyst in the comments section below.