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As the threat of cyber-attacks continues to rise, hiring top-notch information security analysts is an absolute necessity. The demand for information security analysts has increased, and by 2031, it is projected to grow by 35%.
We’ve teamed up with ZipRecruiter, one of the largest and best job sites for employers and employees alike, to outline the process of recruiting and hiring the best security analysts, including the skills and credentials to look for, how to craft an attractive job description and what to ask during interviews.
What is an information security analyst?
An information security analyst is a professional who ensures the confidentiality, integrity and availability of an organization’s data. They are responsible for protecting computer networks from cyber attacks, malicious software and other digital threats. Their work involves monitoring systems and networks for vulnerable access points and addressing potential issues before they become a problem.
What does an information security analyst do?
Information security analysts are responsible for a variety of tasks, including:
- Identifying network or system vulnerabilities and recommending solutions to protect against security breaches
- Developing, testing and implementing new security measures such as firewalls, encryption protocols and access control systems
- Analyzing system logs to detect and investigate suspicious or malicious activity
- Creating user access policies and procedures to protect sensitive data
- Conducting security audits and risk assessments to identify weak spots in the organization's security posture
- Developing and implementing plans for disaster recovery and data backup
How to hire an information security analyst
Similar to other highly specialized and technical roles, hiring an information security analyst is a complex, multi-step process. From crafting the perfect job description and job posting to sifting through resumes and interviewing the best candidates, there’s a lot to consider before you make your final decision. The following guide will walk you through each step of the hiring process.
Know which type of information security analyst your business needs
There are several different types of information security analysts, including information security analysts, security engineers, information security officers, security consultants and security administrators. Each of these roles requires different qualifications and experience, so it’s vital to establish what type of information security analyst your company requires before you start the hiring process.
Information security analyst
These information technology (IT) professionals are responsible for monitoring and protecting your organization’s systems and data. They will develop policies, protocols and standard operating procedures to protect the network from threats and malicious activity.
Much of the duties associated with this role focus on continuously monitoring the system and implementing updates or patches to fix any discovered vulnerabilities. They may test various systems in an effort to identify any potential areas of improvement. Highly valued skills for this role include exceptional pattern recognition, excellent communication (due to the need for constant stakeholder updates) and high-level analytical thinking.
While the role of an information security analyst often involves identifying and reacting to new threats, security engineers plan for and implement measures that will protect against future attacks. They are responsible for designing and building secure network infrastructure, developing and maintaining security protocols and implementing access control systems.
The ideal candidate for this role will be knowledgeable in a variety of programming languages, have excellent problem-solving and analytical skills and be able to implement security best practices with minimal supervision. A security engineer should also understand current and emerging trends in the security industry so they can anticipate and plan for future cyber attacks.
Information security officer
An information security officer (ISO) is a senior-level role that is responsible for developing and overseeing the organization’s overall security strategy. This typically includes conducting regular risk assessments, setting up processes for responding to security incidents and ensuring compliance with all applicable data protection laws and regulations.
ISOs should have a comprehensive understanding of the organization’s data and IT infrastructure. In addition, they should have the ability to lead a team of information security analysts and be able to develop detailed security policies and procedures. As an ISO is often seen as an ambassador for the organization, excellent communication, presentation and interpersonal skills are essential for success in this role.
Security consultants are commonly employed to assess the security of an organization’s network and provide unbiased advice on how to improve it. They could be responsible for conducting a wide range of tasks such as penetration testing, code review and risk assessment.
The backgrounds of security consultants can vary significantly as they often possess a combination of skills and experience from various fields, including computer science, operations security and management. A strong technical background is essential for success in this role. The ideal candidate should be well-versed in current security best practices and have experience dealing with sensitive data. While security consultants often have a wide range of expertise, some companies employ specialized security consultants who focus on specific areas such as software testing, cryptography or forensics.
Security administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operations of a network’s security infrastructure. Their duties can include a number of responsibilities, including configuring firewalls and anti-virus software, monitoring user activities and responding to security incidents. In addition, they are generally responsible for implementing and maintaining internal security policies, procedures and best practices.
A security administrator should have strong problem-solving skills and be familiar with a wide range of security products, protocols and technologies. They will also need to produce reports and work with other departments, so strong communication and interpersonal skills are also essential.
Consider what level of education, experience, skills, and credentials your ideal candidate should possess
When hiring for any cybersecurity role, consider what level of experience, background and specific skills the ideal candidate would possess. Generally, most candidates should have at least a bachelor’s degree in information security or a related field and possess any relevant certifications for their role. Common information security certifications are vendor-neutral, such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) qualification, or role-specific, such as the CompTIA Security+ and the GIAC Security Expert certifications. Others highlight skills, such as the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) and Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certifications.
Experience is also a key factor that will demonstrate the candidate’s ability to handle different tasks and situations. Defining the amount of experience required for your specific role will help you to narrow your list of potential candidates. For example, an experienced chief security officer should have held a security leadership role in the past, while an entry-level security analyst may only need one or two years of experience.
Common skills for security roles include problem-solving, networking and IT security knowledge, system analysis and troubleshooting, data encryption, risk assessment, incident response and project management. Depending on the specific role, you may require more extensive knowledge and skills such as forensic analysis and penetration testing.
Create an information security analyst job description
After describing your ideal candidate, you will be ready to develop an information security analyst job description. Your job description should include a clear summary of the role, list the necessary qualifications and experience, thoroughly explain the responsibilities of the position and state any required certifications or credentials.
The goal of the job description is to give potential candidates a complete and accurate picture of what the job entails while also helping you attract the best possible candidates. It should also note whether the position is a full-time job or a contract opportunity. To entice qualified individuals, you should emphasize the advantages of joining your organization, such as competitive salaries, benefits and career development opportunities.
An accurate and enticing job description is the first impression you'll make to new hires, and it's key to not just finding but retaining quality employees. If you need help getting started, check out ZipRecruiter's information security analyst job description template.
Advertise the job opening to job seekers
After creating a job description, the next step is to advertise the job opening. By using the best job posting sites for employers — such as ZipRecruiter's award-winning, easy-to-use service — you can reach a wide network of job seekers. You can also use social media networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to share the job posting and connect with potential candidates.
Effective offline channels for finding talent include job fairs, college career centers and industry events. You can also ask contacts in your network for referrals. These candidates are often a great fit, as they come pre-vetted and recommended by someone you trust.
Finally, you may be able to attract talent through a career page on your website. Candidates can visit this page to learn more about your organization and job opportunities. When considering how to create a better career page, focus on providing a comprehensive description of the company and its culture, highlighting job postings and making it easy for candidates to apply.
Review your applicants' information security analyst resumes
Once you start getting applications, review each candidate and compare their resume against your desired requirements. Recruiting software can help you be more efficient, such as by organizing applications and automatically screening resumes.
An applicant tracking system (ATS) can also be helpful for tracking, scanning and organizing your applicant information. If you use this tool, be sure to employ best practices for using an ATS, such as automating the resume parsing process and using keywords to identify relevant resumes.
Your resume review process should be fair and consistent. Look for evidence of skills and qualifications such as certifications, experience and software knowledge. As you review each resume, you may want to keep notes to help you make a decision. You can also use the best background check sites to verify the information that your top candidates have provided.
Interview your top choices
Once you identify your top candidates, the next step is the interview process. Depending on the size of your organization and the resources available, you can conduct in-person, phone or video chat interviews. Your interview questions should explore relevant topics such as the candidate’s experience, technical expertise and problem-solving ability. The following are some example interview questions and what they can reveal about the candidate:
- What is a project you’ve worked on that was particularly challenging and how did you handle it? This and other behavioral interview questions will help you understand how the candidate approaches problem-solving and deals with challenging tasks.
- What do you believe are the primary responsibilities of an information security analyst? This question will reveal the candidate’s understanding of the position.
- What are the differences between common access control systems, such as RBAC and ABAC? Specific questions like this will provide insight into the candidate’s technical skills and expertise.
- How do you stay up-to-date on the latest security technologies? This will reveal the candidate’s knowledge of current security trends as well as their commitment to lifelong learning.
Select an onboard your new information security analyst hire
After you interview all the candidates, make your selection. Then, make an offer to your top candidate and begin the onboarding process. Finally, create a plan to welcome your new hire and integrate them into the team. For example, you'll want to introduce them to colleagues, explain your expectations and provide training and resources as needed.
Information security analyst FAQ
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Summary: How to hire information security analysts
Hiring for any technical position can be a complex and challenging process. To ensure that you find the best candidate for your organization, take a methodical approach to recruitment and have a plan in place for onboarding.
When recruiting an information security analyst, consider the candidate’s experience, technical expertise and problem-solving ability. Ask a variety of interview questions that will help you to assess their skills as well as their understanding of the position. Once you select a candidate, begin the onboarding process and ensure that they are quickly integrated into your team. With the right plan in place, you can hire an exceptional security analyst who will be a valuable addition to your team.