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3 Hacks to Elevate Your Career as a Cyber Analyst

Don Rhead 2 650X440

Author: Don Rhead, Manager (NAM), Unit 42 MDR

Ask 'why.'

Everyone has a different path to cyber. As common, or uncommon, as your path is, the hallmark of a great investigator is having an inquisitive mindset. This is an instinct of sorts and comes down to an eagerness to ask 'why', regardless of the situation you are faced with.

Operationally this might mean getting into the details of an incident, truly driving to bedrock on root cause, or it could be expressed by building a solid timeline, finding where to fill in blanks. 

You may ask why to better understand a process and find a way to improve it. Regardless of the circumstances you will have the same result; a solid understanding of the situation and an even sharper investigation skill.

Over time your challenge is how to maintain that curiosity as it naturally changes. An inquisitive person who constantly has all the answers will become bored. I find challenging myself to take on new roles, exploring a new domain of cybersecurity, helps pique curiosity and grows me as an investigator. Dedicated training, special projects and role changes are other great ways to manage this flex over time.

Share knowledge.

Qualifications, certifications or raw technical knowledge are key attributes for a great analyst, but you cannot know everything. Cybersecurity operations teams should be a collaborative place where analysts of all levels are able to share what they know. Regardless of how early you are in your path to cyber, do your part by contributing to this culture. Ask questions and pass what you learn onto others. I find peer teaching drives me to learn even more on a topic. It is a great way to build your own skills. You may find this leads to opportunities to branch out, open you up to new mentor relationships, and  better define you as a key player on the team.

Say 'yes.'

Change is a natural part of any industry, and this is twice as true for cyber. Don't shy away from a challenge or unfamiliar territory. Saying 'yes' to a project, task or even a new role does a few things. It provides new opportunities to learn, meet new people with different perspectives, and explore an area of cyber you may really enjoy. Meeting new challenges with a 'yes' will naturally grow yourself as a dynamic and flexible person.

Look for how a new challenge can grow your career, even if the benefit is not immediately clear. The experience I gained by saying yes, even if it was difficult at the time, was a huge benefit in retrospect. Many in the industry who found success did not get there by staying static and doing the same thing.

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