SOC Analyst: Career Path Overview
SOC stands for Security Operation Center. A SOC is staffed with cyber-security professionals who work as a team to protect an organization's IT assets from cyberthreats. A SOC analyst's role is not merely limited to protecting IT infrastructure. Instead, a SOC analyst's primary role is assessing the target organization's IT infrastructure for weaknesses and suggesting countermeasures to improve its defenses against cyberattacks.
SOC analyst is considered the first line of defense when an organization faces a cyberthreat. For instance, the SOC team reports the cyber threat to other departments and instantly implements security defenses to protect the organization's IT assets. SOC commonly works as a part of a team. However, in small organizations, we may find one employee responsible for this role and works mainly to identify security weaknesses in organization work processes and any security flaws in IT systems and report back to concerned departments to fix the weaknesses before exploiting them by malicious actors.
This article will shed light on the SOC analyst role and encourage readers to consider this career as they dive into studying IT security.
Job Responsibilities of a SOC Analyst
A SOC analyst can play many types of roles. SOCs typically operate 24x7 to provide threat and vulnerability analysis, analyze security logs for different security and networking devices, and manage and evaluate security incidents. In addition to monitoring real-time threats, SOC analysts must analyze and respond to undisclosed hardware and software vulnerabilities. They must investigate, document, and report on security incidents and emerging cyber threats. SOC analysts are considered consultants within their organizations and coordinate their efforts with intelligence analysts and other teams. To be more specific, critical responsibilities of the SOC analyst include, but are not limited to:
- IDS monitoring and analysis.
- Network traffic and log analysis.
- Insider threat and (Advanced Persistent Threats) APT detection.
- Malware analysis and forensics.
- Understanding/differentiation of intrusion attempts and false alarms.
- Investigation tracking and threat resolution.
- Compose security alert notifications.
- Provide training for other SOC analysts and other security engineers.
- Operating a SIEM (Security Information and Event Management)
- Implementing and optimizing SOAR (Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response).
- Writing signatures for signature-based detections.
- Analyzing behavioral anomalies and assisting in the eradication of threats
- Participate in developing an incident response plan.
How do I Become a SOC Analyst?
The work experience and degree requirements will vary from one organization to another. Still, typically, most companies require a bachelor's degree in Computer Science or a related field as well as 1-3 years of work experience. However, this is not a rule of thumb. For example, many successful SOC Analysts have been hired on practical experience or professional certifications rather than the 'formal' route. The following are the primary technical skills of a SOC analyst:
- Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
- Digital forensics and incident handling
- Ethical hacking skills
- Reverse engineering malware
- TCP/IP, computer networking, routing, and switching
- C, C++, C#, Java or PHP programming languages
- IDS/IPS, penetration and vulnerability testing
- Firewall and intrusion detection/prevention protocols
- Windows, UNIX, and Linux operating systems
- Network protocols and packet analysis tools
- Anti-virus and anti-malware
Desired certifications can include:
The certifications (beginner through intermediate) listed above outline those desired for a SOC Analyst or those (intermediate-advanced) for those working their way to SOC manager. Again, these requirements depend on the specifics of a given organization and how that SOC Analyst fits in with the organization's larger structure.
Cybrary Resources for SOC Analysts
Cybrary offers a plethora of courses to help you become a SOC analyst. As we saw during the article, becoming a professional SOC requires expertise in more than one security domain. The first course you need to enroll in is the SOC Analyst - Level 1. This course will help you master the essential skills for the SOC Analyst role, such as:
- Threat Intelligence
- Log Analysis
- Vulnerability Scanning
- Network Monitoring
- Wireshark and IAM
- Risk Management
- Application/Mobile Security
- Network Security
After completing this course, you can continue your Career Path for a Security Operations Center Analyst (SOC Analyst) by following the following courses:
Other necessary certifications that you should consider are CEH and CHFI. Cybrary offers courses for both certifications.