How to Become a Certified SOC Analyst?

Payal Wadhwa

Payal Wadhwa

Feb 21, 2024

Cybersecurity threats mature faster than their countermeasures. So businesses need teams who are always watchful and aware of security threats. Appointing a skilled team of SOC analysts can go a long way in preventing cyber threats and can help relieve the mounting pressure of security concerns.

Cybersecurity jobs are already high in demand and are expected to grow at 18% in the next 5 years. So, if you’ve been meaning to carve a career as a SOC analyst,  it’s a great time to do it. Here’s everything you need to know about becoming a SOC analyst.

It is different from the SOC (Service Organization Control) framework which is a voluntary standard for assessing the effectiveness of internal controls of an organization through independent audits.

Who is a SOC analyst?

A SOC analyst is a cybersecurity professional working as a first line of defense in detecting and responding to cyber threats. These security specialists work towards developing security protocols and managing potential incidents to guard the information assets of the organization.

How to become a SOC analyst?

To become a SOC analyst, you need to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, explore training programs from credible institutions, and get certified. Thereafter, keep honing your skills to climb the career ladder.

Here’s the step-by-step guide for becoming a SOC analyst:

Get a degree

A bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, information security or a related field is a good start.

Bag certifications

After the completion of degree, explore training programs by credible institutions to become a Certified SOC Analyst (CSA). Other certifications that can prove to be stepping stones in the journey include Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), CompTIA Security, GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst etc. We’ll explore these in detail in the later part of the blog.

Hone your skills

A SOC analyst isn’t just great at technical skills related to security technologies, but they’re also equipped with soft skills like proactive problem-solving.

Meet our compliance experts

Join our Compliance Q&A

Fastrack your audit with on demand guidance.

Gain experience

Start with an entry-level position like security analyst or network administrator. Gradually, hone your skills and move your way up.

  • Tier 1 SOC analysts: Tier 1 analysts are responsible for monitoring security alerts in real-time, analyzing the threats involved and escalating the incidents to appropriate teams for remediation. These require basic technical skills, administrative skills, and analytical skills for proactive identification and reporting of incidents.
  • Tier 2 SOC analyst: Tier 2 analysts are equipped with more experience, knowledge and additional training. These analysts are responsible for investigating security incidents, anlayzing root cause, and resolving incidents. Tier 2 analysts also deliver feedback for further improvements.
  • Tier 3 SOC analyst: These senior analysts are the most experienced in the hierarchy. They typically handle critical security issues that cannot be solved by tier 2 analysts. This can involve accessing logs, network forensics etc. and also constitutes strategy development for security and risk management. 

Also, check out the key functions of SOC

What is the job description for a SOC analyst?

A SOC analyst is a fast-paced job that requires adaptability to changing situations. The job carries a plethora of responsibilities related to surveillance, assessments, reporting and documentation.

The key responsibilities include:

Monitoring

Monitoring involves ensuring the smooth functioning of the security systems to help maintain business continuity. This involves tracking firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and reporting any unusual activity in real-time. 

Threat detection

When suspicious activity is detected, junior analysts usually report and respond to smaller threats while senior analysts handle more serious threats. Tier 3 SOC analysts work on creating a mitigation plan and containing the damage.

Collaboration

SOC analysts are required to collaborate with incident response teams, IT operations, and compliance teams to protect the systems from malicious threats and initiate mitigation plans in case of a security event.

Security assessments

Depending upon the level of seniority and experience, SOC analysts are required to participate in or conduct security assessments. This includes vulnerability scans, reviewing policies, testing the effectiveness of security controls and other risk assessments.

Staying updated

The job role of a SOC analyst demands keeping up with the evolving threat landscape and understanding how sophisticated the attacks have become. This helps in improving threat detection and response systems.

Documentation 

An important responsibility of SOC analysts is to document incident details, learnings, findings from investigations, and remediation responses. Strong documentation helps in improving the strength of established security controls.

SOC analyst certification process

There are a number of certification options in the market. The usual course of action is to complete the study program, pass an exam and hone the skills required under the program.

Here are the most popular SOC analyst certification choices:

Certified SOC analyst by EC council

To begin with the SOC-analyst-in-making journey, start by bagging the CSA certification. This program prepares you with the fundamentals along with entry-level and intermediate-level operations.

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

In order to avoid exploitation by attackers, ethical hacking comes handy in detecting vulnerabilities in advance and fixing them. This certification helps train you with ethical hacking tactics to scan your own computer systems and spot weaknesses. If you’d like to build a solid foundation in penetration testing, this is a must-have.

CompTIA Security

This certification can be a prerequisite for a number of cyber security roles as it covers the core skills required to perform security functions. The wide range of topics covered include threats, attacks, vulnerabilities, technologies and tools, risk management, incident response etc.

Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)

Land a lucrative career with CRISC making you adept in IT risk management. The certification prepares you with IT risk assessment, risk reporting, control monitoring, corporate governance and other related topics.

GIAC Certified Incident Handler

In order to secure a well-compensated position as an incident handler, system administrator or similar roles, GCIH can be a valuable credential. It covers topics such as incident handling, malware analysis, hacker tools, network forensic analysis etc.

Why do organizations need a SOC analyst?

In 2021, the global security operations market was valued at $5.39 billion and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.2% between 2022-2030. Cyber attacks have been a major driver for the demand of SOC analysts. Having a SOC analyst:

  • Ensures continuous monitoring of security networks, systems and operations thereby reducing downtime or business disruptions
  • Helps prevent or minimize the impact of a security threat by initiating quick mitigation actions
  • Saves the organization from financial burden caused by data breaches
  • Aids in improving the overall security stance of the organization
  • Enables the organization to implement the necessary security controls

What skills must a SOC analyst have?

Detecting, investigating, and responding to threats requires technical expertise along with an attitude that fosters collaborative culture. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Technical knowledge

This includes knowledge about operating systems like Windows and Linux, knowledge about networking protocols and familiarity with programming languages. 

Network defense

Network defense skills require understanding of the network traffic, malware detection and analysis, firewall configurations and management etc. in order to protect information assets from anomalies. 

Ethical hacking

Ethical hacking involves testing the strength of security controls against tactics that may be used by attackers. It is an essential skill that helps with vulnerability assessments, penetration testing and identifying other weaknesses in the security systems.

Knowledge of security tools

A SOC analyst must know how to leverage security information, SIEM, forensic analysis, network monitoring and other tools that help take decisive actions against threats.

Incident management

SOC analysts are first responders to security incidents. This skill helps train SOC analysts on threat detection, damage mitigation, and initiating remediation and restoration protocol. 

Computer forensics

Computer forensics aims at teaching how to collect and analyze evidence from different sources when investigating security incidents. This helps in identifying and documenting root causes of security threats.

Problem-solving

In order to respond to threats in real-time, strong problem-solving skills are required. A SOC analyst must be patient enough to break down complex problems into smaller manageable tasks to effectively manage security incidents.

Analytical thinking

Analytical thinking helps identify compromised indicators, understand the severity of a problem and chalk out potential solutions systematically. 

The SOC team and Sprinto collaboration

The demand for both entry-level SOC analysts and experienced seniors is high in organizations because of increasing security concerns. SOC analysts have already established their footing in various industries like healthcare, finance, government agencies etc. as cybersecurity defense players.

The job of a security operations team becomes easy when it is supported with the right tools and resources. A compliance automation solution like Sprinto can help SOC teams monitor security controls, create and rollout infosec policies, and expedite the compliance certification process.

Ready to get started? Speak to our experts today

FAQs

How much can a SOC analyst earn?

An entry level SOC analyst can start from $70000 and with experience can earn $120000+ per year. In the United States currently the average has been $90000.

Are coding skills required for SOC analysts’ jobs?

For entry-level positions, coding skills are not required. But having knowledge of programming languages is required for advanced-level roles and senior positions.

What are the challenges of a SOC analyst?

The security alerts can be too many and may nudge you 24/7. Next, the constantly evolving threat landscape demands actively staying up-to-date. Understaffed teams, limited security budgets and compliance tasks can be other challenges.

Payal Wadhwa

Payal Wadhwa

Payal is your friendly neighborhood compliance whiz! She turns perplexing compliance lingo into actionable advice about keeping your digital business safe and savvy. When she isn’t saving virtual worlds, she’s penning down poetic musings or lighting up local open mics. Cyber savvy by day, poet by night!

How useful was this post?

0/5 - (0 votes)

Found this interesting?
Share it with your friends

Get a wingman for
your next audit.

Schedule a personalized demo and scale business

Here’s what to read next….

Sprinto: Your growth superpower

Use Sprinto to centralize security compliance management – so nothing
gets in the way of your moving up and winning big.