15 Essential Cybersecurity Skills for Security Analysts in 2024

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Demand for cybersecurity analysts keeps growing in India. Find out which cybersecurity skills these IT professionals need.

[Featured image] An instructor teaching cybersecurity skills assists a learner in a blue shirt on their laptop.

Cybersecurity typically means leveraging various technical and human skills to protect your organisation’s data. Having the right set of skills could be critical to getting hired. But what skills should you focus on?

To find out, we reviewed cybersecurity analyst job listings on LinkedIn and Naukri to find the skills most frequently included in job descriptions (as of March 2023). PwC, ITC Infotech, BNP Paribas, and PayPal are among the top companies hiring for these skills.

Expert insights: cybersecurity skills

Many employers are looking for qualified candidates that have both technical and workplace skills. "You're going to see a critical eye [from employers], especially on the technical piece, on the ability to do the job. We also need leadership and management roles, that are aware of the kind of cyber threats and liabilities around them," said Steve Graham, Senior Vice President Head of Product at EC-Council, during Coursera's virtual panel, "How can online learning accelerate cybersecurity careers and talent?"


What skills does a cybersecurity analyst need?

Cybersecurity analysts use technical and workplace skills to assess vulnerabilities and respond to security incidents. If you have a background in information technology (IT), you may already have some of the required technical skills. Many of the necessary workplace skills carry over from various occupations.

10 cybersecurity technical skills

1. Scripting

Scripting is coding in which you make a programme do something. The difference is that coding is static, whereas scripts can move images and text around. Knowing how to build tools and automate repetitive tasks with languages like Python or PowerShell empowers you to become a more efficient analyst. Python ranks among the most prevalent cybersecurity languages and is among the easiest to learn. 

2. Controls and frameworks

A cybersecurity framework provides a collection of best practices, policies, tools, and security protocols to help secure an organisation’s data and business operations. A control is a measure your company uses to protect itself from vulnerabilities and attacks. 

The framework you use will vary depending on your organisation and industry. You may find it helpful to familiarise yourself with some cybersecurity frameworks, including:

  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

  • Data Security Council of India (DSCI)

  • National Cyber Safety and Security Standards (NCSSS)

3. Intrusion detection

As a cybersecurity analyst, a big part of your job will be monitoring network activity for possible intrusions. Knowing how to use intrusion detection software—security information and event management (SIEM) products, intrusion detection systems (IDS), and intrusion prevention systems (IPS)—enables you to identify suspicious activity or security violations quickly. 

4. Network security control 

Many cybersecurity attacks take place across a network of connected devices. The same technologies that allow companies to collaborate can also lead to security vulnerabilities. To keep an organisation secure, you’ll need an understanding of wired and wireless networks and how to secure them. 

5. Operating systems

Security threats exist on computers and mobile devices across all operating systems. Set yourself up for success as a security analyst by building a deep familiarity with MacOS, Windows, Linux, and their command-line interfaces. Studying the threats and vulnerabilities associated with mobile operating systems, like iOS and Android, is also helpful. 

6. Incident response

Whilst prevention is the goal of cybersecurity, quickly responding when security incidents occur is critical to minimise damage and loss. Effective incident handling requires familiarity with your organisation’s incident response plan and skills in digital forensics and malware analysis.

7. Cloud

As more and more businesses move to cloud environments, professionals with cloud expertise are in demand. A NASSCOM report revealed a significant need for cloud security professionals in India as demand continues to outweigh supply. Experts anticipate the need for cloud security skills to grow by 115 per cent over through 2026, making it the most lucrative skill in the industry [1].

8. DevOps

Security risks often exist within applications themselves. More and more companies are adding a security focus to their software development and operations (DevOps) phase to help ensure that applications are secure from the start. 

9. Threat knowledge

You can be a more effective cybersecurity analyst by keeping up-to-date on the threat landscape. If you’re new to the field, get started with the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) Top 10, which outlines the top-10 web application security risks.

10. Regulatory guidelines

Cybersecurity must protect organisations from attack, theft, and loss and comply with industry regulations. Start by examining The Information Technology Act, 2000. Cybersecurity analysts in the health care industry will need to understand how to comply with the Digital Information Security in Healthcare Act (DISHA) if it becomes law. If you’re working for a global business, familiarity with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) could be beneficial. 

5 cybersecurity workplace skills for IT professionals

1. Communication

Written and verbal communication play a key role in cybersecurity. As an analyst, you may need to communicate technical concepts to individuals without a technical background, such as executives or legal teams. You may also write incident reports, where you’ll have to document what you did concisely and clearly. 

2. Collaboration

As a cybersecurity analyst, you’ll likely work with a larger security team of other cybersecurity professionals. You may also need to collaborate with other teams within your company (legal, IT, public relations) or share your findings with other organisations or the greater cybersecurity community. 

3. Risk management

Your ability to think through what could go wrong, assess the severity of threats, and gauge the potential impact empowers you to focus your energy on the tasks where you’ll have the biggest impact.

4. Adaptability

Cybercriminals are constantly adjusting and enhancing their attacks. Technology continues to advance, introducing new vulnerabilities. Adopting the mindset of a lifelong learner can help you keep up with or stay one step ahead of these changes.

5. Critical thinking

Working in cybersecurity sometimes means making high-stakes decisions about your organisation’s security. Developing your critical thinking skills can help you to:

  • Ask the right questions

  • Evaluate and assess data

  • Identify your assumptions

  • Consider alternatives

  • Understand context

  • Draw data-driven conclusions

How to improve cybersecurity skills

There’s more than one way to build your cybersecurity skills. Whilst you likely already possess some of the skills listed above, developing those you’re less familiar with could make you a more competitive candidate when applying for jobs.

Here are some options for building cybersecurity skills:

Take classes.

Whether you’re learning cybersecurity fundamentals or more advanced skills, enroling in a course adds structure to your learning. Many courses that target specific technical skills, like network security or incident response, may also give you opportunities to practice workplace skills, like technical writing and collaboration. 

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Stay up to date on the latest trends.

Keeping your technical cybersecurity skills up to date with the current threat and technology landscape can help you build confidence as a security analyst and give you a competitive advantage in your job search. Here are some resources to get you started:

  • Cyber Security Podcast: Each episode of this podcast from PwC UK covers current issues faced by cyber risk and threat intelligence professionals.

  • SANS StormCast: Subscribe to this daily podcast for five to 10-minute episodes covering the latest security threats.

  • Reddit: Join a cybersecurity sub, like r/netsec, r/cybersecurity, or r/hacking.

  • Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre: The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology shares current cybersecurity threats.

Next step

Take the next step toward a career in cybersecurity by enroling in the Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate on Coursera. You can be ready to embark on a new career path in less than six months.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Article sources

  1. GIAC Certifications. "Top 5 Cloud Certs You Need to Know About, https://www.giac.org/blog/top-five-cloud-certs/." Accessed January 28, 2023.

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