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Position Company Location Posted
Malware Prevention Analyst - Cyber Security Defense
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Bank of AmericaDenver, Colorado, United States11/07/2022
Malware Prevention Analyst - Cyber Security Defense
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Bank of AmericaJacksonville, Florida, United States11/07/2022
Malware Prevention Reverse Engineer - Cyber Security Operations
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Bank of AmericaDenver, Colorado, United States04/08/2022
Cyber Threat Intelligence Analyst
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Bank of AmericaDenver, Colorado, United States23/07/2022
Cybersecurity Operations Analyst Lead
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University of Vermont Medical CenterSouth Burlington, Vermont, United States08/07/2022
Cyber Incident Response Analyst
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Los Alamos National LaboratoryLos Alamos, New Mexico, United States02/08/2022
Cyber Security Analyst
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Bank of AmericaChicago, Illinois, United States29/07/2022
Federal - Cyber Incident Response Team Lead
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AccentureArlington, Virginia, United States15/07/2022
Cyber Security Analyst
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102 ICF Incorporated, LLCPensacola, Florida, United States23/07/2022
Cyber Security Analyst
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Swiss ReSingapore, Singapore21/07/2022
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What is a Malware Analyst?

Malware analyst is among the most lucrative and vital job positions in cybersecurity. A Malware analyst practices the science of reverse engineering by analyzing malware such as Trojan, viruses, and worms. These are mostly used in cyberattacks, making the analysts vital in incident handling. They can understand the impact of the malware and come up with answers to questions about an incident.

Let’s say a company or organization has experienced a cybersecurity breach. They will have to call in their malware analyst to assess the situation. This is done after the situation has been calmed down and contained. The analyst now has to examine the whole incident by taking a deeper dive into the attack. They will look for trails that show the tactics and tools employed in the attack.

By the end of the assessment, the malware analysts will have understood the malware used, read through the binaries and encryption, and figured out what the attacker was trying to do. Below are some questions that only a malware analyst can answer after incident analysis.

  • Who was behind the incident
  • What vector was used for the attack
  • How they gained access to the systems
  • The extent of the attack and its effects on the system
  • Whether the malware has spread through the network, causing further damage
  • What made the attack successful or unsuccessful
  • How much control the malware has granted to the attacker
  • The amount of data that an attack has exfiltrated

From what we have already seen, it is safe to say that a malware analyst is more of a cyber-sleuth. The analysts also come in handy when the team devises ways to defend systems against such in the future. Their knowledge can also come in handy in identifying vulnerability and recommending better protection methods.

What Do People in Malware Analyst Jobs Do?

The primary functions of a malware analyst are identifying, examining, and understanding different types of malware. Additionally, they have to figure out the methods used to deliver the malware and present their recommendations to the security department.

After an attack, the malware analyst works with reverse gears. It is like carrying out an investigation where they work by deconstructing and disassembling malicious codes and analyzing them. Their detailed analysis will help identify the perpetrators and aid the organization’s efforts to protect itself against future attacks.

Below are some of their responsibilities

  • Recording all malware threats
  • Identifying systems that can help avoid malware threats
  • Identifying any threats through regular analysis
  • Classifying malware based on traits and threats
  • Keeping up with any developments in the malware field for a better understanding
  • Informing the security team of any alerts on looming attacks
  • Plays a part in the security policy documentation

Malware analysts are not considered the first line of defense in the incident response team. However, they can still be called upon during the early attack stages to help other experts better understand the type of malware being used to attack and the extent they have gone.

Malware analysts will also be routinely asked to examine the systems for suspected malicious codes. If they come across any, they have to determine whether the suspicious codes are indeed vectors for malware attacks. This helps negate attacks even before they happen. Some attackers use APT (advanced persistent threats) by placing their code piece by piece before launching the attack.

Detecting such code fragments is not a walk in the park. However, doing so will help protect the systems against an early attack before any harm is done.

Where do Malware Analysts Work?

Malware analysts can work in a variety of areas. Some Malware analysts take on jobs in IT companies, where they monitor the technology used company-wide for attacks. Some may work in IT departments of smaller companies, where they’ll monitor their employers’ information and handle any security concerns as they come up.

Jobs in malware analysis are also available in software development companies, computer and phone manufacturers, and in general cybersecurity departments for banks, businesses, and schools.

What Degree is Required to Become a Malware Analyst?

First, you need to note that different organizations looking for analysts will require different skill sets. Several factors dictate the specific requirements. This includes the security team, the nature of their systems, what the existing staff is capable of, and the weaknesses within their group.

That said, there are some basic requirements before you can qualify. In general, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity or computer science. You also have to be fully conversant with Windows API, C/C++, and OS internals. Knowledge in data structures, Ruby scripting, Python, Perl, and TCP/IP protocols is required. You also have to know how to construct technical reports from the findings you make.

How Much Money Does a Malware Analyst Earn?

There is a competitive advantage in the malware analysis career. This is not the case for other positions within the cybersecurity department. This is because you have to amass a lot of experience in addition to the special language and programming skills. This makes the job less entry-level and more of a professional-level job.

According to many surveys, The annual salary for a typical malware analyst ranges between $90,000 and $165,000. However, you should expect lower salaries as an entry-level malware analyst. Being hugely experience-dependent, an experienced malware analyst can even earn up to $240,000 annually.

Malware Analyst Job Requirements

Besides having a bachelor’s degree, a malware analyst must have excellent communication skills, both written and verbal. The ability to explain complex problems in a way everyone will understand is a must. Being able to think quickly and problem solve is also essential. A malware analyst will also benefit from knowing the following areas.

  • Digital Forensics. You have to understand memory forensics, file modification, and such
  • Encryption. This is quite important as most malware you come across will be encrypted
  • Basic cybersecurity knowledge
  • Network Security. You have to be conversant with network protocols such as UDP, HTTP, DNS, and HTTPS. You should also know how to analyze them

Malware Analyst Career Path

As our world becomes more reliant on technology, the need for malware analysts will only increase. This job is projected to keep on growing. As more people enter the field, more positions will open up as companies work to adapt to cyber threats and adjust their security needs.

As long as technology is being used, there will be security threats. Working as a malware analyst will be a stable choice for years to come. If you enjoy working in security and enjoy programming and software development, a career in malware analysis is a wonderful option.

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