Cybersecurity Analytics vs. Engineering: What's the Difference?

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If you want to earn a living in the tech industry, consider cybersecurity — job demand is growing. Two popular career paths are cybersecurity analysts and cybersecurity engineers.  While there is some overlap between these positions, they are not exactly the same.  

However, these two positions often work closely together to identify and address system vulnerabilities before criminals can exploit them. The analyst may find the issue and the engineer will act upon it. 

Cybersecurity engineers design and implement the security architecture, while cybersecurity analysts monitor the network and other operations to prevent and detect breaches.

Both positions require strong analytical skills, attention to detail, problem-solving, and communication skills. However, cybersecurity engineers often have more advanced technical skills like programming.

Both positions are making a big impact to protect and secure their companies. From trending ransomware attacks to everyday hackers, cybersecurity professionals work hard to protect their company from these attacks ever happening — and then finding solutions if the dreaded attack happens. 

Let’s take a closer look at each of these unique career tracks to determine which is best for you.

What is a cybersecurity engineer?

Cybersecurity engineers enjoy problem-solving complex technical challenges and creating cybersecurity solutions that safeguard sensitive information. 

In short, cybersecurity engineers play an essential role in protecting digital information against cyber attacks.  

These individuals embrace the challenge of figuring out how computer networks function, how information is shared and accessed, and how digital safeguards, such as firewalls, protect information.  Cybersecurity engineers create and alter the gateways that ultimately control an organization’s network.

The main duties of a cybersecurity engineer include:
Design and implement security plans
Identify potential vulnerabilities in the system 
Plan computer and network security upgrades 
Test hardware and software related to the upgrade
Address technical issues on software and production equipment
Use computer forensics to respond to network intrusions 
Monitor network traffic patterns to prevent future attacks

The main duties of a cybersecurity engineer include:

  • Design and implement security plans

  • Identify potential vulnerabilities in the system 

  • Plan computer and network security upgrades 

  • Test hardware and software related to the upgrade

  • Address technical issues on software and production equipment

  • Use computer forensics to respond to network intrusions 

  • Monitor network traffic patterns to prevent future attacks

Cybersecurity engineers also identify the security weaknesses of each system and subsystem, and collaborate with an analyst to troubleshoot the problem. Pinpointing such vulnerabilities is only one piece of the cybersecurity puzzle. Figuring out how to shore up those weaknesses and remedy them is also the responsibility of the cybersecurity engineer.  

How do I become a cybersecurity engineer?

While some employers may still prefer a college degree, there are other ways to break into cyber without going to college. A cybersecurity bootcamp is an excellent way to get the technical training you need to get into cyber.

Even after attending a bootcamp, cybersecurity engineers often obtain a certification. But, certifications alone are not enough to land a cybersecurity engineer job, as you need to already understand cyber in order to pass the certification exam. 

Cybersecurity engineers commonly get the following certifications: 

  • CompTIA Sec+

  • Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP)

  • Certified Ethical Hackers (CEH) 

  • CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+)

These professionals need a solid comprehension of the technical components of information systems, computer networks and digital security systems.  The best cybersecurity engineers have a full understanding of both cryptography and information assurance to ensure data is completely secure when transmitted across a network and also to identify all potential vulnerabilities.  

You always need a thorough understanding of network security.  A mere superficial understanding of how computers function and interact on a network will not suffice.  Rather, cybersecurity engineers know how to create such systems in a manner that is fully secure and can be enhanced as time progresses.

How much do cybersecurity engineers make?

Glassdoor reports cybersecurity engineers earn an average base pay of just under $100,000 per year (June 2021). Indeed reports the average base salary for a cybersecurity engineer is $112,673 per year (June 2021). Of course, this can vary by state and experience level. 

Glassdoor reports cybersecurity engineers earn an average base pay of just under $100,000 per year (June 2021). Indeed reports the average base salary for a cybersecurity engineer is $112,673 per year (June 2021).

What is a cybersecurity analyst?

Cybersecurity analysts study networks, digital threats and digital attacks.  These individuals enjoy hunting down digital miscreants, analyzing threats and understanding the nuances of cybersecurity.  Such analysts have solid technical, analytical and communication skills.   

While cybersecurity engineers are tasked with preventing and thwarting attacks, cybersecurity analysts are responsible for identifying the source of the attack, understanding how the attack was executed, and working with a cybersecurity engineer to proactively prevent additional security breaches.   

The main duties of a cybersecurity analyst include: 

  • perform cybersecurity assessments

  • ensure compliance

  • monitor networks

  • complete working incident responses

  • conduct disaster recovery efforts 

  • prevent unauthorized access to the network

  • prevent additional infiltrations

How can I become a cybersecurity analyst?

Cybersecurity analyst is an excellent entry-level cyber role, especially if you don’t have a technical background or experience coding. 

A cybersecurity bootcamp is a great way to get the training you need to become a cybersecurity analyst. Flatiron School offers a program specific for cybersecurity engineering, but it will still give you the training you need if you prefer an analyst role. If you are set on wanting a program specific for cybersecurity analytics, check out this list of top bootcamps.  

Another method to become an analyst is to get a certification. Cybersecurity analysts often get the following certifications:

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)  

  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) 

  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) 

What is the average salary for cybersecurity analysts?

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports cybersecurity analysts earned a median pay of $103,590 per year in 2020. Of course, this can vary by state and experience level. 

Cybersecurity analytics vs engineering: what’s the real difference?

image illustrating cybersecurity engineering vs cybersecurity analytics

While cybersecurity engineers are tasked with developing highly secure and efficient security systems, analysts assume the role of the digital attacker, attempting to think like a hacker or other digital attacker and perform tests to gauge whether certain attack methods are likely to prove successful.  

In short, cybersecurity analysts attempt to compromise systems in the manner that a hacker would in a preventative manner.  If digital attacks prove successful, the cybersecurity analyst solves the mystery of how the attack occurred while the cybersecurity engineer responds accordingly. The cybersecurity analyst then develops reports detailing the attack method, the response and the digital security failure for cybersecurity engineers and managers to review.

The engineer makes all the necessary alterations to the network, hardware and software after the threats arise.  These professionals are engaged in the never-ending battle to optimize digital defense systems to thwart ongoing threats.   

How are cybersecurity engineers and cybersecurity analysts similar?

Though cybersecurity analysts and engineers have different roles in the workplace, there is also some overlap between the two professions.  

Security engineers and security analysts work closely together to identify and address system vulnerabilities before criminals can exploit them. The security engineers then act on issues raised by security analysts. In addressing system vulnerabilities, both positions must collaborate with teams within and outside the IT department.

Both professionals attempt to better understand the subtleties of digital security, comprehend how the latest digital attacks are made, and develop detailed digital defenses that eliminate those threats as quickly and efficiently as possible. Both positions are often responsible for communicating security issues to other departments and company leadership. These two professionals use the same verbiage and communicate with one another in the workplace.  

Of course, the responsibilities can change based on the size and needs of your company. However, there is not a typical workday for either of these roles, which many people find to be part of the intrigue of these roles.  

It is important that these professionals remain flexible and capable of pivoting to new and more urgent cybersecurity emergencies. Plus, as the cyber field is constantly evolving, so are the responsibilities of these professionals.

Who should be a cyber security engineer vs cyber security analyst?

The type of person who succeeds as a cybersecurity analyst might not necessarily succeed as a cybersecurity engineer and vice versa. Those who are technically-oriented, enjoy writing computer code, thrive at problem solving, and enjoy independent work can succeed as cybersecurity engineers.  

Individuals have top-notch critical thinking skills, and enjoy piecing together the puzzle of cybersecurity threats are perfect for cybersecurity analyst positions.  

Both positions need hard skills such as programming knowledge, an understanding of networking, comprehension of operating systems, and experience with database platforms. But the engineer will have deeper technical knowledge and programming skills, maybe coming from a background already in tech. 

Analyst positions are a great way for people with non-IT backgrounds to break into the industry. If they choose to, they can continue working on their technical skills and move into an engineering role as their career progresses.

The specific computer programming languages that are most important for working as a cybersecurity engineer include: 

  • Python

  • Golang

  • JavaScript

  • C

  • C++

  • SQL

  • Assembly

  • PowerShell

  • Ruby

  • PHP

Interested in a career in cyber? Try a bootcamp

Even if you do not have experience in a tech field, you can launch a career in cybersecurity by starting a cybersecurity bootcamp.  

Flatiron School is a leading provider of tech bootcamps, and offers a cybersecurity engineering bootcamp that will give you a comprehensive foundation to start a new career. The program serves as a launching pad for graduates to start a career as a cybersecurity engineer, analyst or even as a consultant. 

In a bootcamp you will learn from a complete curriculum including network security, systems security, Python, penetration testing, threat intelligence, and more. 

You can complete the bootcamp in as little as 15 weeks or the flexible pacing option can be completed in 20, 40, or 60 weeks.  

Considering a cybersecurity bootcamp? Apply now or book a 10-minute chat with admissions to learn more about the program. 

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Blair Williamson

Content Marketing Manager

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