10 Cybersecurity Analyst Certifications You Can Pursue
Updated October 2, 2023
As technology advances, so do hackers' methods to thwart the online security of businesses and individuals. Cybersecurity analysts are experts at identifying vulnerabilities in an organization's network and taking the necessary steps to secure the company's systems. This field is highly competitive, so holding a cybersecurity analyst certification could give you an advantage to secure employment or advance in your IT career.
In this article, we introduce 10 cybersecurity analyst certifications to consider, with a comprehensive description of each one's merits and prerequisites. We also discuss some of the key advantages of earning such a certification.
10 cybersecurity analyst certifications
Here's a list of some of the certifications that could prove useful in your career as a cybersecurity analyst:
1. CompTIA's Network+
This Network+ certification provides the base knowledge necessary for most cybersecurity jobs. Its primary purpose is to measure a candidate's knowledge, understanding of how networks and computers communicate and awareness of cybersecurity protocols. Other aspects of IT that this certification teaches are:
Tools used to troubleshoot issues within a network
Best practices for providing and ensuring network security
Familiarity with IT infrastructures
Though the Network+ is rarely a requirement for gaining employment, it can be an asset when applying for positions. A cybersecurity analyst, also known as a CSA, shares many responsibilities with network analysts, making this a beneficial credential.
Prerequisites: There are no specific requirements to take the Network+ exam, but CompTIA gears the certification toward individuals who have at least nine months of networking experience working.
2. CompTIA's Security+
Many employers consider the Security+ certification to be a vital credential. Some might say it's a minimum qualification for this field because it provides such a foundational basis of understanding. Participants who complete the Security+ exam get an overview of vulnerabilities, risk management and cryptography. Students learn the proper procedures for installing and configuring systems and how to secure networks, applications and devices. They also receive training on the protocols necessary to perform a threat analysis on said systems, plus techniques for lessening the impact of any threats.
Prerequisites: There are no specific requirements for taking this exam, but it's advisable to complete the Network+ certification and obtain at least two years of IT experience in administration beforehand.
3. CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst
Originally known as the CSA+, the Cybersecurity Analyst certification's ideal for IT professionals who want to gain essential skills to become security analysts. This certification aims to equip IT staff with the tools necessary to detect cyber threats by identifying and analyzing potential vulnerabilities and risks. It also teaches students the behavioral analytical skills for identifying and combating malware and advanced persistent threats, thus improving the overall visibility of threats. Additional knowledge areas covered by the certification are:
Protecting and securing an organization's systems and applications
Developing and utilizing threat-detection tools
Conducting data analysis and interpreting the results to pinpoint an organization's risks, threats and vulnerabilities
Determining an incident's impact by examining threat data
Developing a threat assessment and reaction toolkit with established best practices, communication strategies and the appropriate forensic tools
Using data to recommend and implement identity and access security strategies while maintaining involvement in the software development life cycle
Prerequisites: Though there aren't any specific prerequisites for Cybersecurity Analyst certification, CompTIA designed the program to build off knowledge gained from its Network+ or Security+. Indeed, it's intended to function as an intermediary step between the Security+ and the Advanced Security Practitioner designation. Equivalent experience could equip students with the necessary knowledge as well.
4. CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner
The CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner, also known as CASP+, is a certification designed to provide advanced cybersecurity skills to practitioners through performance-based hands-on training. Those who pass the exam are prolific in the following areas:
Integrating enterprise security, research and collaboration
The operations and architecture of enterprise security and risk management
Other topics covered in the CASP+ exam are:
Expanding an enterprise security domain to meet requirements, techniques, architecture concepts and standard operations
Anticipating defensive needs to meet an organization's goals
Interpreting data to analyze risks
Providing security control and minimizing software vulnerability for all devices, including mobile
Implementing virtualization and cloud technologies into a secure enterprise architecture
Using cryptographic techniques, like mobile device encryption, cryptocurrency and blockchain
Prerequisites: CompTIA recommends having at least 10 years of IT administrative experience, including at least five years of experience in technical security, before attempting this certification.
5. CompTIA Security Analytics Expert
Once you've earned several CompTIA certifications, you can validate your expert-level mastery by taking the CompTIA Security Analytics Expert certification exam. This level of certification proves that you have the knowledge and skills to use data analytics to research and develop security solutions.
Prerequisites: The prerequisites for the Security Analytics Expert designation are certifications in Security+, Cybersecurity Analyst and CASP+.
6. EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker
The Certified Ethical Hacker certification—also known as the CEH or Certified Network Defense Architect for government employees—trains students on identifying and patching a network's weaknesses. This certification's great for enhancing your current professional skill set because it teaches you how to think like a hacker, allowing you to predict and protect against potential attacks. The training's hands-on, with participants using their own systems to learn about the five primary phases of hacking, which are:
Hiding the evidence
Prerequisites: Before taking this exam, participants must have at least two years of IT industry experience. Though not specifically required, obtaining your Security+ certification can be extremely beneficial before attempting this certification.
7. Certified Security Analyst
This training program teaches IT security professionals how to perform realistic penetration tests, also known as pen tests. Students learn the methodologies, techniques and tools necessary for designing, securing and conducting comprehensive tests on an organization's networks. These tests are instrumental in identifying and mitigating any security risks to an IT infrastructure. Aside from learning to identify and avoid hackers, this course also teaches you how to eliminate threats.
Prerequisites: Though not required, it's advisable that participants first complete the Certified Ethical Hacker certification.
8. GIAC Information Security Fundamentals
The certifications offered by the Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC)—a certification entity that issues professional information security credentials—provide a great foundation for anyone looking to begin a career in security analysis. The Information Security Fundamentals certification's an introductory credential that validates the following:
Working knowledge of computer networking functions
Foundation in security
Basic understanding of cryptography and cybersecurity technologies
Those who earn the certification can:
Understand risks to information resources
Implement the best practices to protect a network against threats
Develop diversified protection strategies
Prerequisites: Though there are no specified prerequisites or requirements, experience or formal education may be helpful before taking this exam.
9. GIAC Security Essentials
The GIAC Security Essentials is an intermediate-level certification that goes beyond basic concepts and terminology. With this credential, IT professionals validate their hands-on experience with systems and security tasks. Some of the topics covered are:
Implementing security systems for the web, virtualization, cloud and endpoint
Developing contingency plans to manage threats
Conducting penetration testing
Scanning networks for vulnerabilities
Developing active defense systems
Basic understanding and application of cryptography
Prerequisites: There are no standard requirements for this credential, but candidates should have at least some background working with networks and information systems.
10. Certified Information Systems Security Professional
The International Information System Security Certification Consortium, also known as (ISC)², offers the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification to provide cybersecurity professionals with training in the following areas:
Mitigating vulnerabilities in web-based systems
Investigating threats and concepts related to cryptography
The CISSP is an excellent addition to a resume and opens students up to career advancements.
Prerequisites: The prerequisites include at least five years of relevant experience in the industry, along with a familiarity with at least two domains in the Common Body of Knowledge.
Advantages of cybersecurity analyst certification
When you're looking for work as a cybersecurity analyst, experience is critical. Though many employers prefer candidates to have at least a bachelor's degree, they often overlook academic credentials if the applicant has proven experience in the field. Becoming certified is a great way to validate your qualifications. Considering that, here are some benefits of earning a cybersecurity analyst certification:
You can obtain specialized and comprehensive knowledge.
It provides proof to employers that you have up-to-date education and skills.
It signifies a certain level of expertise.
There are more opportunities for advancement in your career.
It increases your earning potential.
It demonstrates a level of commitment to your career.
It may provide you with a hiring advantage over the competition.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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