A Security Operations Center, or SOC, is one of the most important departments for any modern business. It is here that the organization’s cybersecurity team does their job, monitoring and analyzing their security networks in case of bad actors or other cyber-attacks. Working in a SOC can be extremely exciting, but the journey to that role is not easy. These professionals, called SOC analysts, are highly skilled and educated individuals with a vast knowledge of computer science, code writing, and cybersecurity. Of course, anyone who is interested and dedicated can work in this field, but how do you become a SOC analyst? Here is everything you need to know:
Becoming a SOC Analyst
Anyone interested in becoming a SOC analyst can expect to follow a standard career trajectory: go to college, gain experience, and get promoted over time. However, cybersecurity is a sophisticated and competitive industry, with many young professionals joining the job market every day. If you want to succeed in this field, you will need to go above and beyond.
The first step in your career journey is to earn your bachelor’s degree. While some employers will hire SOC analysts who have a high school diploma, and others prefer applicants with graduate degrees, the vast majority expect their SOC analysts to have a bachelor’s degree.
What should you study? The most common areas of study for SOC analysts include cybersecurity, computer engineering, data science, or similar fields. These majors will help you learn the fundamentals that will serve you in your future career. There are also online SOC training tools designed specifically to teach you the fundamentals and skills needed to be an effective SOC Analyst.
While you can learn a lot about threat management, coding, and other valuable skills in the classroom, you can only learn the minutiae of being a SOC analyst by getting hands-on experience. This is why many SOC analysts worked internships before starting their career properly; it gives them the opportunity to learn on the job from cybersecurity professionals.
One great thing about internships is that you can do them while also learning your degree. In fact, some degree programs require internships in order to graduate! Therefore, you can accomplish steps one and two of your journey, and all at the same time.
Your education journey does not end the day you get your college degree. Cybersecurity, like many digitally focused industries, is constantly changing and growing; therefore, it is important that you continue to learn and become more knowledgeable about your work.
One of the best ways to stay on top of the industry is to get certifications for your specific role. SOC analysts should get a certification like the CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+) or the GIAC Security Essentials Certification.
Climbing the Ladder
Finally, the last step in becoming a SOC analyst is to work and wait. Most SOC analysts start their careers in other computer-related fields like IT, before moving into cybersecurity and then to SOC analysis over time.
This period of “climbing the ladder” may be frustrating for professionals who want to get into SOC analysis right away. However, remember that all the work you do in these related computer fields will help you perform better as an analyst later! Keep doing your best work and you will move up quickly.
Important Skills to Have as a SOC Analyst
The right degree and certifications can get you in the door of the cybersecurity industry, but they are not the only things you will need to be successful as a SOC analyst. The most successful analysts also possess certain skills that can help them perform their job well and protect their company against cyber-attacks.
Here are some of the skills you should have as an SOC analyst:
Anyone who works in cybersecurity should have a solid foundation in computer engineering principles, including coding and programming. SOC analysts often have to help design security measures for the company’s network; therefore, it is important that you have the skills to do so.
Attention to Detail
While SOC analysts do have the exciting job of responding to and mitigating against cybercriminals and other cyber-attacks, that is only a small portion of the job. Most of the time, SOC analysts spend their days analyzing event logs and running security tests, looking for suspicious activity or potential vulnerabilities in the system.
If you want to do these tasks successfully, it is critical that you have a careful attention to detail. Make sure you develop this skill so you can effectively monitor your company’s security network. No suspicious activity should be able to get past you!
SOC analysts have to work as part of a cybersecurity team. There are typically three tiers of SOC analysts in a given organization: tier one monitors the network, tier two investigates and responds to threats, and tier three studies cybersecurity trends to upgrade the network over time.
A successful SOC analyst will be able to work well with their coworkers, offering advice and collaborating with one another on various tasks. It is important that you learn to work well with others, so start practicing early on in your career journey!
Finally, SOC analysts must be excellent written and verbal communicators. A lot of cybersecurity work is highly technical and sophisticated – but often, you will be called on to explain a recent security incident or new implementation to people who are not as technically-inclined. It is important that you can effectively communicate your work to anyone, no matter how much or how little they understand about computers!
The cybersecurity industry is expected to grow significantly over the next decade. Therefore, working in this field can be great for anyone who is looking for an engaging and lucrative career. If you master these skills, get your degree, and focus on doing the best work you can throughout your career, you will be able to enjoy a successful and stimulating career as a SOC analyst.