Cyber Security Analyst vs Cyber Security Engineer
Humans are becoming more reliant on digital technology every day. With nearly 99% of Australian adults having access to the internet, hyperconnectivity means we are able to complete more of our daily tasks without having to leave the house – even our jobs. In fact, the pandemic accelerated remote work so much that two in three working adults (67%) are either sometimes or always working from home.
Saddled with increased digitisation is the growing threat of cyber security attacks. In 2020–21, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) received more than 67,500 cyber crime reports, equating to one report every eight minutes. This higher proportion of cyber incidents has led to greater demand for experts in the field, particularly cyber security analysts and cyber security engineers. If you want to know what these jobs entail and how to build your own career in the industry, read on.
What do cyber security analyst jobs look like?
Cyber security analysts oversee a diversity of tasks, with their core goal being to protect the company’s hardware, software and networks against cyber threats – most commonly theft, loss and unauthorised access.
“The analyst fits into the security architecture of an organisation for the specific job of understanding the organisation’s security,” says Siyakha Mthunzi, Cyber Security Subject Matter Expert for the University of Adelaide.
“The analyst’s job is to give context to the threats faced by the business. They ask the questions: who are our adversaries? What assets do we have to protect, and what kind of threats do we face?”
Depending on whether you have sole responsibility at a small business or work as part of a larger digital team, your cyber security analyst job description may involve responsibilities such as:
- Installing firewalls
- Setting up encryption tools
- Receiving reports and categorising breaches
- Uncovering weak points in company systems
- Researching new cyber security trends
- Educating your co-workers on cyber security best practice.
Another strength of cyber security analysts is their ability to protect against future threats by creating contingency plans in case of a successful attack. With cyber criminals constantly using new and complex tools, cyber security analysts must have a comprehensive knowledge of these strategies in order to deploy the strongest cyber defence.
How does a cyber security engineer’s job differ?
In contrast to an analyst’s responsibilities, a cyber security engineer incorporates their electrical engineering and computer science skills to develop security solutions that better protect the company’s systems, networks and sensitive data. Their skills are broad-ranging, and may include digital forensics, security policy, network defence and hardware/software engineering capabilities.
On any given day, a cyber security engineer may find themselves developing trusted systems, conducting audits and penetration testing, or bolstering the company’s security technology. Cyber security engineers strive to develop the most secure network solutions to protect against ongoing – and increasingly complex – cyber threats.
“The cyber security engineer is the one who develops the security architecture of an organisation,” says Mthunzi.
“A primary distinction between a cyber security analyst and engineer is that in a large organisation the roles are split and different. In a smaller organisation, the analyst will double up as an engineer and vice versa.”
Responsibilities of a cyber security engineer may include:
- Assessing any existing security concerns
- Setting up systems to detect intrusions
- Investigating breaches and deploying incident-response plans
- Following the latest industry standards to ensure corporate compliance
- Monitoring new developments within the cyber security industry
- Conducting tests and delivering reports based on those findings
- Educating co-workers on internal security policies
- Recommending strategies to senior management that will ensure security best practice across the company.
What is the average cyber security analyst salary?
With more and more organisations recognising the need to leverage their data, as well as the pandemic accelerating the need for digital transformation*, cyber security specialists have become increasingly in demand and have the potential to command lucrative salaries.
According to the latest data from PayScale, the average cyber security analyst salary in Australia is $77,842, with that figure rising to $114,000 for mid to senior level analysts.
What is the average cyber security engineer salary?
As engineers generally possess a broader skill set and require more technical education, they sit in a higher pay bracket compared to analysts.
According to the latest data from PayScale, the average cyber security engineer salary in Australia is $93,679, surging to $151,000 for more experienced professionals.
Career pathways: Cyber security analyst vs engineer
A career in cyber security is as rewarding as it is diverse. Cyber security analysts and engineers can find themselves applying their skills in technical roles, or take a more general position that encompasses a variety of cyber security tasks. Such is the need for cyber security specialists that almost every industry is seeking skilled analysts and engineers.
For those interested in pursuing a career in this field, Mthunzi advises to “figure out exactly where your strengths lie, as the roles have different requirements.
Analysts must be very critically analytics while an engineer must understand the architecture behind security systems as a baseline.”
Some cyber security career pathways include:
- Government: Federal, state and local governments pour billions of dollars into their digital infrastructure every year in order to protect themselves – and their constituents – from security threats.
- Healthcare: Cyber crime is rising across the healthcare sector**, which means both analysts and engineers are in demand to bolster the defences of hospitals, medical manufacturers, insurers, small businesses and more.
- Business: From financial services firms to multinationals to security-poor startups, businesses across all industries are looking for cyber security analysts and engineers who can uncover and eliminate security vulnerabilities in their networks.
How to become a cyber security analyst or engineer
Whatever your ambitions in the digital world, training and accreditation can help you become a better cyber security analyst or cyber security engineer. Even if you are currently working in this field, upskilling through study and gaining experience from some of the finest educators in cyber security can position you as a candidate of choice among employers.
“There's a lot of utility in having an academic course because you can walk into a specific role in an organisation,” says Mthunzi.
With a Graduate Certificate or Master of Cyber Security. your training is as both an engineer and as an analyst as you have studied the structured methods. A lot of organisations will look at you in comparison to another candidate and give you preference because of that.”
So, whether you are just starting your career in cyber security or you want to upskill and boost your cyber security analyst salary, the University of Adelaide has online study options to meet your needs:
- Budding cyber security experts who wish to formalise their skills can undertake a Graduate Certificate in Cyber Security online.
- Experienced cyber security graduates can apply for a Master of Cyber Security online to specialise in analysis, engineering or other career pathways.
Want to know more about the different types of careers within cyber security? Learn about cyber security jobs and salaries in Australia next.
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