How to Become a Security Administrator
If you are looking for a lucrative career that offers immense opportunities for growth, then becoming a security administrator might just be the first step in the right direction. So what do security administrators do? Let’s find out!
Every time you hear in the news that a security breach has occurred in a renowned organization, and hackers have gained access to confidential information, it is almost always referring to database breach. With the plethora of apps, websites, and other platforms available, the wealth of information that these digital platforms possess are stored in databases and it is essential for them to be secure. This is where a database administrator comes in. It is the responsibility of database administrators to ensure that the databases and other similar sources of data remain secure and protected from unauthorized access.
Cybersecurity architects design the security system for an organization, which is then implemented by security engineers, and then run by the security administrators. They are responsible for routine tasks each day, such as setting up new accounts, granting access rights to each account and increasing or reducing the permissions each account has, as well as managing the user’s roles along with their information.
They are also sometimes responsible for briefing the teams and other departments the latest developments in information security threats, and thus must be aware of the best practices as well as the security policies. There are various levels of being a security administrator, from an entry-level to a senior level position. Senior security administrators can be expected to occupy the position of Chief Security Officers as well, in large organizations. In order to secure an entry-level position as a security administrator, it is necessary to have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in computer science, cybersecurity, or any related field.
Security Administrator Responsibilities
Now that you know who security administrators are and what they do, let’s look at their responsibilities in detail. Depending on the scope and the level you are at, your responsibilities will include some or all of the following:
- Setting up the processes of the system along with the user accounts within the parameters as decided by the organization.
- Defending the system against malicious attacks, destruction attempts, modification, or unauthorized access.
- Developing and deploying technical policies to be adhered by users.
- Assess the performance of the system by performing network and vulnerability scanning
- Use the log files to audit activities as well as user access.
- monitor and oversee the network traffic for any signs of unusual activity.
- Analyze the requirements for security of the company’s network and establish them
- Handle account exceptions, such as forgotten passwords, lockouts, deactivation and setting up of an account.
- Develop security awareness in fellow employees by informing them of the protocols and procedures.
- Configure security tools and support them such as firewalls, patch management systems, and anti-virus software.
- Develop disaster recovery protocols along with business continuity protocols and update them as and when required.
- Offer technical security advice to the team.
- Deploy the application security, network security policies, corporate data safeguards, and access control.
- For the teams and business units requiring similar levels of access control, administer such groups as well as organizations in the system.
However, as mentioned previously as well, these duties will vary depending on the level a security administrator is at, the operating system of an organization, as well as the security mechanisms in place. For those professionals working in small organizations, the duties may remain the same as that of a security analyst or a security specialist. The security administrator reports to the Security Manager.
Security Administrator Requirements
In order to become a security administrator, following are some of the things you should have knowledge of.
- RBAC (Role Based Access Control)
- DAC (Discretionary Access Control)
- MAC (Mandatory Access Control)
- Unix ACLs (Access Control Lists)
- AWS (Amazon Web Services) Directory Services
- Microsoft ACLs and Active Directory Group Policy
It is always a good idea to have different certifications under your belt, along with the bachelor’s or master’s degree, as it helps in skill development as well as in getting the attention of the employers.
Apart from these, it is also very important to have degrees and certifications which lay the foundation for pursuing this career. Security Administrators should be graduates, preferably having a bachelor’s degree in either computer science or cybersecurity. With the rapidly evolving needs of cybersecurity and the digital interface, it becomes even more important to have education that supports this growth, however, at time extensive experience of the industry and practical applications of cybersecurity may trump the need for a degree.
Security administrators should be familiar with the numerous details regarding the network and security system architecture, such as Unix and Windows file system architecture and internals. Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model, and Transmission Control Protocol/ Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), scripting languages like Perl, VB Script, Python etc., and patch management and integrated system services including BigFix by IBM, and Windows System Center. However, that is not all, following are some of the certifications which will help enhance the skill set of a security administrator.
- CompTIA Security+
- MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate)
- CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional)
- CISM (Certified Information Security Manager)
- ECSA (EC-Council Certified Security Analyst)
- CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate)
Career Path for a Security Administrator
If you start off as a security administrator, then there are multiple senior level positions which you can occupy as you progress through your career. These include positions like; security analyst, security engineer, security auditor, and security consultant. The positions mentioned so far are mid-level positions, from where you can occupy senior level positions such as security manager, security director, security architect, and CISO.
There are different jobs which have the same responsibilities as that of a security administrator. Following are a couple which you might come across.
- Systems Security Administrator
- It Security Administrator
- Network Security Administrator
So if you come across any of these job openings, then know that you are eligible to apply.
Pay Scale of a Security Administrator
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a security administrator can earn an average of $81,100/- per annum. The job outlook is looking positive with the growth rate at 6%, which is as fast as average for the IT Industry jobs. However, if you are skilled and have a number of qualifications to back you, then you may even earn greater than that.
Experience and Skills Set Requirements
For a security administrator, depending on the level at which the job is being offered and the size of the company that has an opening, an experience of 1-10 years may be needed. For entry-level jobs minimal experience is required, whereas, for mid to senior level jobs, 5-10 years’ experience is a must. As far as the skills are concerned, they can be broken down into two types, namely; the hard skills, and the soft skills. Their requirements are explained in detail below:
If you really want to ace that interview for a security administrator position, after being picked from the resume screening process, then, you should be aware of what employers look for in potential candidates. Here is a list of the technical skills which you should possess in order to impress the hiring manager.
- Knowledge and understanding of common L4-L7 protocols, including DNS, SSL, IPSec, SMTP, and HTTP.
- Knowledge and Understanding of computer networking, TCP/IP, switching, and routing.
- In-depth knowledge and understanding of firewall technologies
- In-depth knowledge and understanding of IDS/IPS
- Linux, Unix, and Windows Operating Systems
- Checkpoint/ Cisco, Juniper
- Knowledge and understanding of Load Balancer, and Packet Shaper, along with Proxy Server
- Knowledge and understanding of the tools for packet analysis and network protocols
- In-depth knowledge and understanding of the protocols for Firewall and Intrusion detection as well as prevention.
Additionally, it is always better to be up to date with the industry’s requirements and continue updating your skills set according to changing times.
Soft skills are as important as hard skills, and sometimes even more important because if you are not even able to communicate, how will you convince the employer that you are the right person for the role they have an opening of. Therefore, soft skills like writing, teaching as well as communication should be very strong, and you should always be prepared for drafting security policies, and helping other, non-technical employees understand the procedures and the protocols of security.
Sample resume of Security Administrator
It is very important to have relevant information on your resume in order to impress the employers while at the same time provide them the key information which will help them in shortlisting your resume for interview.
610 Wilhelm Port, Dallas, TX
Phone: +1 (555) 364 5461
To use my skills and experience for helping other people and making a difference in society by protecting that which people hold precious to them.
- Security+ Certified
- VMWare Experience
- Active Directory
- Exceptional Troubleshooter
- Patch Management
SENIOR SECURITY ADMINISTRATOR 02/2014 – present
- Coordinated with other departments in order to improve security compliance, risk management, and the effectiveness and utilization of the security system.
- Coordinated with Engineering groups in order to deploy new network security designs and integrate them with the production network.
- Collected data, along with analyzing it and provided the summarized trends in order to assess the capacity guidance and the performance of the network.
- Liaise with the team of system administrators, network engineers, IT professionals, and the development team in order to assure clear communication across all levels.
- Develop AD groups, and users in different domains, along with assigning the approved network and resource access.
- Analyze cyber threats and report them to the authorities. Additionally, provide aid in preventing cyber attacks, along with identifying, investigating, monitoring, and assessing the intrusions in the computer network.
- Supported the team in detecting, responding to, mitigating, and reporting any attempts at data breach along with cyber threats aimed at client networks.
IT SECURITY ADMINISTRATOR 04/2010 – 12/2013
- Provided the technical security advice to the team
- Provisioning, account management, de-provisioning and servicing across multiple platforms.
- Continued monitoring of the access policies and optimization of the workflow on a daily basis.
- Coordinate with the technical services group and inform them of any issues which may directly or indirectly affect their areas of work and support them to resolve any issues.
- Developing access management system documentation and updating it as and when required
- For all IAM events, optimize log reviews and their management
- Perform the routine administrative duties on security systems for ensuring their smooth operation. Daily responsibilities included account maintenance, log reviews, daily report preparation, responding to and resolving alerts, maintain rules and policies, and updating the software, as and when required.
SECURITY ADMINISTRATOR 10/2007 – 12/2009
- Coordinate with the team members and ensure that the timelines are met.
- Recommend improvements in the plans, methods in place, policies, processes, and techniques to help strengthen the overall security of the system and manage these implementations.
- Help the team in developing the training materials using ABB Enterprise Software HR, and manage Services management.
- Take care of the day to day activities including accessing and managing ticket queues for responding to and managing user account requests and problems.
- Gather data and analyze it to present a summary of the trends for the guidance of the network’s performance.
- Assist in Integration and Change Management.
- In the case of any incidents, assist in their management or manage them.
WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY
Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science 05/2003 - 09/2007
- Implementing policies and ensuring that they are followed by the team
- In-depth knowledge of managing intrusion detection, antivirus environment, vulnerability management, and data leakage prevention.
- Proficient in the use of basic automation tools such as Lotus Notes, MS office, and Share Point.
- Working knowledge and understanding of ICD 704 & 705 along with applicable Sponsor procedures.
- Strong leadership and interpersonal skills, along with the ability to interact with different stakeholders of the organization.
- In-depth knowledge of IP Networking
- Proficient in the use of Microsoft Office Excel and Word.
Common Security Administrator Interview Questions
As an entry-level security administrator’s job is in great demand, therefore, there are a lot of openings for security administrators these days. The hard work that the admin staff puts forth is a key component for an organization and integral for ensuring the smooth running of its operations. So when you are preparing for an interview for the position of a security administrator, it is very important to know the kind of questions that may be asked from you.
Usually, the flow of the interview remains the same. The hiring manager will ask you some generic questions and then move on to specific ones which are related to your job. Here is an example that will give you an idea of what to expect in an interview, and thus, be better prepared.
The interviewer usually begins with the following questions:
- Please tell us about yourself.
- Where are you currently working and what are your job responsibilities?
- Why do you want to switch from your current organization?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses? Give me three examples of each.
- What are your goals for the future?
- Where do you see yourself after five years?
- Give one example where you faced a challenging situation in your previous job and how you handled it?
- Give one example of a team conflict that you resolved.
Then the interviewer is likely to turn to more detailed and technical questions in order to assess your knowledge.
- What are the computer skills that you have?
- What, according to you, is an effective method of preventing violations or security breaches within computer security procedures?
- Do you think that analyzing data or information is a strength? If so, then how?
- What do you think is an effective approach to analyzing large amounts of data? How do you think this benefits the company?
Depending on the job requirements, other questions may also be asked, however, the gist and flow of the interview usually remains the same. So, be prepared and make sure to apply all the concepts you have learned as well as your practical experience when giving an interview. So, make sure to choose a path that not only interests you but also helps you in reaching the height of success.
Find out more by browsing through our information security course catalog to see the cybersecurity courses, classes, certification training, and boot camps we have on offer. There is much that can be gained from obtaining additional certifications along with your degree. It helps in boosting your skill set while impressing the hiring manager/s and landing you in the list of candidates being considered for an interview.