Interested in becoming a security auditor?
If you’ve decided to look towards an entry level cybersecurity job, a security auditor is one such career to be considered.
Today’s article discusses the responsibilities, the necessary education and experience, and the skills expected of a security auditor.
What is a security auditor? A security auditor is a cyber professional whose core role is to assess an organization’s information systems to ensure it meets known security standards.
Their responsibilities include testing, investigation, execution and reporting of the organization’s IT infrastructure, database, applications, etc.
Although having a degree in cybersecurity or other IT-related degree is preferable, it isn’t required and can be easily substituted for a security certification.
No experience is needed for an entry level auditor role; however, more senior positions require up to five year of experience; the expected average salary is $82K per year.
There are several technical skills (e.g. understanding security standards, operating systems, database platforms, design & development, programming, audit tools, and reporting) in addition to soft skills needed to become a security auditor.
What is a Security Audit?
For those of you new to cybersecurity, a security audit is an assessment of the security of an organization’s IT systems as measured against an established industry or government standard.
A security audit will assess an information system for security controls, encryption techniques, network vulnerabilities, as well as any other predetermined metrics.
They can be performed monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually; however, the decision of how frequently these audits are done should be made after a proper assessment of the organization’s IT infrastructure.
Responsibilities of Security Auditors
As part of your responsibilities, you will be expected to:
- Explain to the relevant stakeholders the overview of the audit process. For better planning and goal setting, management and all the other concerned parties in the organization need to know how the audit will be executed.
- Test IT infrastructure, database, applications and other relevant components to ensure organizational security meets the set standards. The standards used to benchmark are either set internally or by the industry in which the organization belongs. Potential applicants to the security auditing field are advised that organizations with multiple sites may require the auditor to travel extensively between these sites.
- Investigate and perform a detailed analysis of recent breaches and security concerns. If the organization has had previous security concerns or breaches, the security auditor needs to come up with recommendations on how such situations could be avoided in the future by following all the set security standards.
- Prepare technical reports based upon the audit results as well as including any recommendations to improve the organization’s security. Since the report usually contains technical jargon for security personnel, the auditors may also prepare a simplified version of the report for other, less technical stakeholders.
What are the Educational Requirements?
Degrees obtained by security auditors’ range anywhere from an Associate degree to a Master’s degree in cybersecurity, computer science, information technology, information systems, software engineering, or other IT-related degree program.
Because of the intense demand of cybersecurity professionals, many businesses have slowly forgone the need for applicants to have a degree and are also willing to hire those with security certificates.
There are certain certifications that will give you an edge in the job market.
Some of the popular security certifications that could boost your chances of landing a security auditor job include:
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
- CompTIA Security+
- GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC)
- Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)
Regardless of whether you have a degree, certificate, or both, studying these programs will give you a firm foundation in cybersecurity which is essential in the daily tasks of security auditors.
Experience Required to Become a Security Auditor.
Different organizations have different experience requirements; while some will offer this position as an entry-level job, others prefer hiring an applicant with a couple years working in an IT or cyber security-related position.
Getting a senior position as a security auditor requires at least 5 years of experience in a security-related field.
If you’re a student, the most effective way to gain this experience is through an internship or volunteer program.
The expected salary for a security auditor range between $59K for an entry level auditor position to $113K for more senior level positions, with the average being $82K yearly.
A security auditor can be hired as a full-time employee or consultant depending on how frequent security audits are to be done throughout the year.
Required Skills to Become a Security Auditor.
Let’s discuss some of the technical and soft skills that one needs to become a security auditor.
- Security standards. Understanding standards, depending on your organizational requirements, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI), Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), or other benchmark while auditing the IT infrastructure, applications and toolsets of an organization.
- Operating systems. A security auditor needs to have knowledge and experience using the different operating systems, including macOS, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS. This knowledge is key while auditing information systems that use these operating systems.
- Database platforms. Databases such as SQL Server, Oracle, and MySQL are the popular databases. The auditor should be familiar with them to provide a proper analysis.
- Design & Development. It is much easier to audit an information system if you have a good understanding of how they were designed and developed.
- Computer programming skills. A security auditor needs to have some basic to intermediate-level knowledge in computer programming languages, including Python, PHP, C, C++, C#, and Java. Knowing how the underlying code to a program works, makes it easier for the auditor to understand what’s happening under the hood when a certain system is running.
- Vulnerability scanning, audit and network defense tools. A security auditor should have proficiency in reviewing and analyzing the tool’s outputs to conduct efficient and thorough audits.
- Reporting. After the completion of an audit, a security auditor needs to prepare a technical report with all the necessary findings regarding the security status of the various IT systems. These reports should be comprehensive as they’re used as baselines to determine if the organization is improving its security posture over time.
Ideally, a good security auditor needs to be well conversant with computer hardware, software, and networking. This means having to understand:
- Detail oriented. A good security auditor needs to pay attention to every aspect of the IT system if they’re to make a proper assessment of their security status.
- Critical thinking. Assessing and evaluating IT systems requires someone that looks beyond the surface. One has to dig deep into the system to ensure that all its components meet the minimum-security standards.
- Communication. A security auditor needs to collaborate with colleagues in the IT and security departments while doing their work.
by Amit Doshi
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