In this article, we will talk about what SOC analyst is in general and what skills analyst candidates who want to improve themselves should have. Generally, there is a perception that being a university graduate has to get a degree. University education and having a degree are of course important in the career path. But it is not a basic requirement to become a SOC analyst.
What is a SOC Analyst?
A security operations center (SOC) analyst is a cybersecurity professional responsible for monitoring and combating threats to an organization’s IT infrastructure. While performing his duties, the SOC analyst must have a good grasp of some technical background knowledge related to the IT infrastructure.
Basic Technical Skills that a SOC Analyst Should Have
Operating Systems Knowledge
Operating systems are system software running on corporate devices. Operating system information plays an important role in detecting security breaches. The analyst has to know what the records of the operating systems mean on the screens he follows as these details of the operating system are examined for anomaly detection and it is decided whether there is a security breach. Depending on the type of operating system, this information may differ, but mostly contains similar information.
Network Technologies Knowledge
Examining the corporate inbound traffic coming from external sources is vital in the detection of security violations. At the same time, it is necessary to monitor the internal traffic to avoid anything unwanted. Therefore, it is necessary to know the network technologies of the IT devices. Knowing which network protocol is used and how, and determining when network-based security breaches occur requires knowledge of network technologies. Devices that provide or control the communication of network technologies are of particular importance. For instance, knowing the task of the firewall device and knowing the network protocols it supports are critical in attack detection.
Basic Programming Knowledge
SOC analysts use SIEM and various security software. These softwares are mostly visual panels. Dashboards are especially important for rapid response to alarms. In some extreme cases, the analyst may have to write specific rules or plug-ins into these software. In this case, the analyst needs basic programming knowledge. If the analyst candidate has basic programming knowledge, he or she can make a more targeted attack detection than other analysts.
Topics to Highlight the Candidate
Project studies are practical studies for SOC analyst candidates both individually and in groups. The next stage of the candidates who have theoretical knowledge is the project studies. There should not be much requirements to be able to do project work. For example, having a computer connected to the internet may be sufficient for the candidate. A research study to assist SOC operating practices or the development of an application that can be used for SOC would be good examples of such projects. The candidate analyst can develop a stand-alone application from the scratch or an add-on to an existing application. In addition, they can work in groups and contribute to large projects. In both cases, the analyst candidate will sharpen his/her skills and be visible within the world of the IT field.
If a candidate without hands-on experience develops projects on a technical subject, this would make the candidate stand out and the hiring employer will evaluate this positively as this will show that the candidate follows the related technology, keeps himself/herself up-to-date, and uses this information in practical work. Candidates with repetitive studies may have difficulty putting themselves in the foreground.
Studies on SOC do not have a long history compared to the red team, so it updates itself day by day. For SOC analysts, online or offline activities are important to keep up-to-date information. In this field, where new information is updated every day, the analyst needs to keep himself/herself updated with the new technology in the field. It also ensures that from the employers’ perspective the candidates are well into the field, curious and determined to learn more. Event participation may elevate the candidates in the job interviews.
The role of the candidate in the events is also important. If a candidate is present in an organization as an organizer, he or she will gain a better ground. This is the ability to organize and manage. The candidate can benefit from this experience later in his career. Analyst candidates may attend or organize conferences, competitions, and workshops. Each event will have a positive impact on the candidate’s resume. You can also check our “How to Prepare SOC Analyst Resume” blog post.
Certification is one of the preferred methods, especially to prove your knowledge of certain SOC topics. With certification, candidates learn selected sub-topics of education and improve themselves. If the candidate successfully completes the exam at the end of the training, he/she gets a certificate. Even though going through the certification process creates a financial and timely burden on the candidate it is strongly recommended. Even though it is not compulsory to have a job, having a certificate takes the person one step ahead of other candidates. Some companies may place more emphasis on certifications. In the applications made to these companies, the candidate stands out more.
SOC analyst candidates have to develop themselves with real-life scenarios. Realizing projects in virtual environments carries the analyst up to a point, but going further and analyzing and observing cases in real terms starts with internship processes. The candidate first gets the opportunity to see live and large systems during the internship. In addition, there is an opportunity to gain knowledge from experienced employees by watching them and working together with them. Internship is a kind of opening the door of business life and making yourself noticed. The analyst candidate who has had a successful internship process is now ready for job interviews.
An analyst blogging is beneficial for both himself and the security community. With blog posts, the analyst puts what he has learned into writing and archives it. They create technical notes for themselves or others that they can look back on. In addition, he/she will have documentation that they can present in job interviews. Candidates makes his name reach more people by announcing his name on social media. This can sometimes lead to job offers through platforms such as LinkedIn.
College education and degree can be helpful to become a SOC analyst. But it is not a requirement to be a SOC analyst. An analyst candidate who applies the topics we have mentioned above and constantly improves himself can be a good expert analyst in the future. In addition, he can test himself with real-life scenarios on platforms such as LetsDefend and gain up-to-date application practice.