DegreeQuery has written several articles related to cybersecurity, as well as intelligence analysis (see links below). The lines blur due to the seemingly overlapping functions of different roles associated with cyber security. There isn’t even a consensus on the spelling of the word-cyber security. Or is it cybersecurity? It depends on the source.
What is Threat Analysis?
Isn’t this the same as intelligence analysis? Threat analysis involves the constant process of examining potential terrorist activities. Cyber threat analysts working for the CIA monitor, assess, and defend against cyber threats perpetrated against the U.S. For this purpose, analysts solve intelligence problems, write assessments, and brief U.S. policymakers and the cyber defense community.
What Degree do I need?
Continuing with the CIA, their website states that the minimum qualifications for a threat analyst are a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in one of the following fields or related studies:
- Computer Engineering/Computer Science
- Digital/Computer Forensics
- Cyber Security
- Information Assurance
- Security Studies
- Or, a mix of International and Technical Studies
Synopsis of these degrees
Computer Science: The degree at the undergraduate level studies a range of computing topics. A non-inclusive lists includes programming, computer architecture, theory, and computer algorithms.
Computer Engineering: It focuses specifically on computer hardware and software. It is an integration of computer science and electrical engineering.
Digital Forensics: Otherwise known as computer forensics. Computer forensic examiners must have skills related to digital storage devices, computer operating systems, a variety of programming languages, and common software applications.
Cyber Security: A broad term covering several areas of specialization. These include information security, information assurance, information analysis, network security, and threat analysis.
Telecommunications: Students may choose to focus on telecommunications engineering, management, or practices. Students can expect to learn about computer systems, media organization, media technologies, information systems, business practices, and policy issues.
Information Assurance: Information assurance includes protection of the integrity, availability, authenticity, and confidentiality of user data.
Security Studies: A Bachelor of Arts provides students with a knowledge of contemporary security issues, which may also entail international relations.
With all these choices, is there one that stands out? Is there one major that is the most beneficial for a threat analyst? Degrees closely linked to computer science and/or computer forensics may sit at the top of the list. Automated systems are paramount to threat detection.
The analyst must vigilantly look for trouble in increasingly complicated IT environments, as systems become more distributed, virtualized, and automated. Some companies select their analysts from a pool of security personnel. This option lends credence to a degree in cybersecurity being beneficial.
What does the Private Sector want?
In the private job sector, there is a host of names associated with threat detection/analysis. A short list of positions includes cyber threat intel analyst, SOC (security operations center) analyst, cyber security analyst, criminal intelligence analyst, and cybercrime analyst.
A job posting on Indeed for Acuity, a leading management and technology consulting firm that specializes in serving the federal government, requires a Cybersecurity Threat Intelligence Analyst. Applicants need a Bachelor of Arts or Science in Cyber Security, Information Systems, International Security Studies, Political Science, or Business Administration with a focus on IT Administration. Applicants are more desirable if they have a Master of Arts of Science in Cyber Security, Information Systems, International Security Studies, Political Science, or Business Administration with a focus on IT Administration.
Another Indeed job posting from Amazon seeks a Cyber Threat Intelligence Analyst. The basic qualifications are a B.S. degree in Computer Science, MIS, Computer Engineering, or 5+ years equivalent technology experience. Their preferred degrees are an M.S. in Computer Science, MIS (management information systems), Computer Engineering, or 8+ years’ equivalent technology experience.
The degree choices allow the latitude to select the one that best suits your career intentions. In addition to a degree, the threat analyst’s skills demand critical thinking, communication, an analytical mind, and a readiness to look for trouble in increasingly complicated IT environments. The latter commands that you live on the front lines of current security research. You must stay abreast of the latest and most dangerous emerging threats.