How to become a Malware Analyst
What is a Malware Analyst?
A Malware Analyst is just as it sounds, an analyzer of malware. Examining malicious software, the malware analyst often works closely with Incident Responders, and perhaps even Computer Forensic Investigators.
In addition to malicious software, a Malware Analyst also often conducts analysis of suspicious code and develops tools to help protect against malicious software and suspicious code. A deep understanding of reverse engineering, software development and types of threats is crucial for a successful Malware Analyst.
What is the Average Salary?
According to PayScale, the salary for a Malware Analyst ranges from $54,000 to $120,000; making the median salary $80,400.
What are a Malware Analyst’s Responsibilities?
The responsibilities of a Malware Analyst vary from organization to organization. Here is a short list of responsibilities picked up from multiple job listings ranging from Facebook and Pepsi to smaller companies where you may have more responsibilities due to smaller teams.
- Analyze malware in depth
- Determine relevant TTPs and IOCs
- Reverse engineer malware to support threat intelligence and incident response
- Advise and consult with other teams
- Enterprise Incident Response
- Capability Development
- Strategic Enterprise Mitigation
- Developing and tracking of Adversary Campaigns
- Provide evidence handling
- Assist in the collection and parsing of raw data
- And more…
What Educational Background is required?
Malware Analyst requires no formal education in any of the job listings I’ve seen. It’s all experientially based. This, again, makes it challenging to make an all-encompassing description. So, keep in mind, this will be a very case to case scenario based on the environments each organization works with. Specific experience with specific environments will be required, so a well-rounded background will be important for a successful Malware Analyst. At least 2 years of experience with malware analysis is often required. In-depth knowledge of APT attacks is also almost always listed. Experience with Linux tools and familiarity with Windows systems is also a frequent ask. Good problem solving skills and ability to communicate with various audiences are a given. Reverse engineering experience and technical mentoring are also often included. CND based analytical frameworks experience is also often specifically asked along with experience with commercial and open source security tools. There are many other organization specific experience often required, but above covers most of the basics.
What Certifications should I take?
With a need for versatility, Malware Analysts often hold a litany of certifications working with various environments, tools and threats. Below are just a few that we provide which are relevant to Malware Analysts.
Extra Credit- CHFI- Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator
Where should I start?
While a formal education is never a negative investment, for the unique nature of a Malware Analyst certifications are the best way to start. We always suggest that beginners start with CompTIA’s Security+ certification for a base understanding.
Once you begin acquiring vital certifications, start building a mentor list and start getting experience! Experience is key in locking down a Malware Analyst job.
Malware Analysis not for you? Find out How to become a Security Engineer here!