- Malware analyst certifications
- Certification requirements
- Certification cost
- Jobs and salary info
- Related resources
A day in the life of a typical malware analyst starts with a Mountain Dew and a review of overnight reports from the security team’s honeypots.
These honeypots are machines that the team has set up to look like attractive targets for attackers and provide invaluable data about new attacks and trends.
Next, the analyst checks for any new updates to their tools and reviews write-ups of previous incidents. After that, it’s time to start digging into any new samples that have been collected.
This includes running these samples in sandboxes to observe their behavior and analyzing their code to understand how they work.
Once the analyst has a good understanding of the sample, they will write a report detailing their findings. This report is then shared with the rest of the team so that they can take appropriate action.
Throughout the day, the analyst will continue monitoring honeypots and responding to any new incidents. At the end of the day, the analyst documents everything they’ve done so that they can pick up where they left off tomorrow.
In short, malware analysts identify, analyze, and respond to malware threats. They use a variety of tools and techniques to reverse engineer malware samples and understand how they work. Security teams use this information to develop mitigation strategies and protect systems from future attacks.
They identify the target vulnerability and work with other cybersecurity experts to protect against and mitigate cyber threats.
This critical role is unique within a security team because it requires knowledge of offensive as well as defensive techniques and security principles. It also may involve assembly language programming skills. It helps to have a Columbo-like temperament.
Malware analyst certifications
A few different professional certifications can help you become a malware analyst:
- The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification from EC-Council is one option. This certification covers topics like network security, cryptography, and ethical hacking.
- The Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP), an ethical hacking certification offered by Offensive Security (OffSec), is another option.
- This certification is designed to demonstrate the skills and knowledge necessary to be a penetration tester.
- Finally, the CISSP – Certified Information Systems Security Professional certification offered by (ISC)² is also a good option. This certification covers topics like security architecture, design, and management.
When choosing a malware analyst certification, it’s essential to consider your own skills and interests. The CEH certification is a good option for those who are interested in infrastructure and encryption.
The OSCP certification is a good option for those who are interested in how threat actors design and deploy and attack. And the CISSP certification is a good option for those who are interested in leadership positions within a security enterprise.
No matter which certification you choose, be sure to do your research and make sure that it is a good fit for you and where you want your career to go. There are many different certifications available, so be sure to find one that is right for you.
What are the requirements for certification?
CEH exam requirements
There are two paths that applicants can choose in order to be eligible for the final CEH exam. The first path is to attend an official EC-Council training course designed for all skill levels and does not require previous cybersecurity experience.
The second path allows applicants with at least two years of previous information security experience to skip the course and go directly to taking the certification exam. Applicants must first submit evidence of their previous experience and should know about information security and ethical hacking.
The CEH exam consists of 125 multiple choice questions. Candidates have four hours to complete the CEH exam. Because all questions are multiple-choice, test-takers usually have plenty of time to finish the exam. Many candidates report needing only two to three hours to complete this test.
OSCP exam requirements
The OSCP certification does not require any educational or work experience prerequisites. Candidates take the exam as the conclusion of the OffSec training course. OffSec recommends that candidates understand TCP/IP networking and have Windows and Linux administration experience. It’s also good to be familiar with basic Bash or Python scripting.
An OSCP certification is ideal for problem-solvers and analytical thinkers who want to demonstrate their ability to apply critical thinking to problem-solving. OffSec designed the preparation course and exam to test candidates’ ability to think critically and solve problems.
The exam simulates an active network in a private VPN that contains a number of vulnerable machines. Test takers have 23 hours and 45 minutes to complete the exam. They can take breaks for eating and sleep.
Once they have finished the exam, they have an additional 24 hours to upload the required documents.
The documents candidates upload as part of the exam includes a professional report detailing the student’s exploitation process for each target.
Test takers report all of the attacks, including all steps, commands issued, and console output in a pentest report. The documentation must be thorough enough that a technically competent reader can replicate the attacks step-by-step.
To be eligible for the CISSP certification, applicants must have at least five years of cumulative paid work experience in at least two of the eight domains of the (ISC)² Common Body of Knowledge (CBK).
Alternatively, applicants with a four-year college degree or equivalent credential and three years of work experience in at least two of the eight domains of the CBK may also qualify.
The CISSP certification covers topics like security architecture, design, and management. The exam is designed to test candidates’ knowledge and understanding of these topics.
The pièce de résistance of the CISSP certification process is a three-hour, 150-question, multiple-choice exam.
A candidate must pass this examination with 700 out of 1000 possible points. Last but not least, candidates must also have their qualifications endorsed by an (ISC)2 certification holder, who ostensibly has accepted the CISSP Code of Ethics.
How much do certifications cost?
The overall cost of obtaining a professional certification can vary significantly depending on the candidate’s experience level and pre-existing training. In addition to the application, exam, and training course costs, independent study materials are often required, and the cost of maintaining the certification must be considered.
Below we have outlined some of the basic costs associated with each malware analyst certification we highlight in this guide.
CEH certification costs
The CEH exam fee is $100. To be eligible for the exam, applicants must attend an official EC-Council training course or have at least two years of previous information security experience.
The cost of attending an EC-Council CEH training course varies depending on the location and duration of the course. In general, the price ranges from $1,000 to $5,000.
OSCP certification costs
The PWK (Penetration Testing with Kali Linux) exam and its certification are included in the PEN-200 training course. The PEN-200 self-guided Individual Course costs $1,499 and includes 90-days of lab access and one exam attempt.
The fee for a Learn One subscription is $2,499/year and provides lab access for one year and two exam attempts. A Learn Unlimited subscription costs $5,499/year and includes all OffSec Training Library courses and unlimited exam attempts.
CISSP certification costs
The cost of preparing for a CISSP certification will vary depending on how much the candidate knows and how experienced they are.
A candidate with basic knowledge and experience can choose a comprehensive CISSP course to help them prepare for the exam. Alternatively, a more seasoned candidate may only need to brush up using a few books or videos.
Training and instructional materials related to the CISSP exam are available from (ISC)² and various other sources. Official training providers offer courses and seminars to help candidates prepare for the exam, but many books, websites, and videos can assist.
Several official training providers offer self-paced e-learning courses starting from $2,499. These courses include an exam voucher and some practice tests.
Courses with an instructor-led component begin at around $2,900 but can cost over $4,400, depending on how much instructor involvement is included. Often these courses have an exam pass guarantee.
Certification jobs and malware analyst salary information
Certifications can lead to better jobs and more money.
The CEH certification is a good option for those who want to enter the cybersecurity field or who are looking for a career change. It is also a good certification for those who want to move into a leadership role within their organization.
OSCP-certified professionals work in much the same roles as CEH certification holders. The emphasis on offensive skills and tactics makes them ideal for malware analysts.
OSCP holders can also find work in other areas such as system administration, audit, and forensics. With additional experience and training, OSCP-certified professionals may be able to move into roles such as vulnerability assessment engineer, incident response handler, or malware reverse engineer.
A CISSP certification is widely recognized and respected in the cybersecurity industry. It demonstrates that the holder has a comprehensive understanding of information security and is capable of managing an organization’s information systems.
A malware analyst can earn an excellent living in North America. In fact, according to Glassdoor, the average salary for this position is over $100,000 per year.
Of course, salaries will vary depending on experience, education, and location. For example, analysts working in major cities such as New York or Los Angeles typically earn more than those working in smaller towns or rural areas.
However, regardless of location, a malware analyst can expect to make a very competitive salary. And with the ever-growing threat of cybercrime, the demand for skilled analysts is only likely to increase in the years to come.
Frequently asked questions
It’s a professional credential that demonstrates an individual’s expertise in analyzing and understanding the behavior of malicious software, including viruses, worms, and trojans.
It can enhance your credibility in the cybersecurity field, increase job opportunities, and potentially lead to higher pay.
Several organizations, including EC-Council (Certified Malware Investigator), GIAC (Reverse Engineering Malware), and CompTIA (CySA+), offer malware analysis certifications.
Many organizations offer training courses. Additionally, self-study using books, online resources, and hands-on malware analysis labs can be effective.
While other cybersecurity certifications may cover a broad range of topics, malware analyst certifications focus specifically on the skills needed to analyze and reverse-engineer malicious software.
Yes, after gaining experience, professionals can pursue advanced certifications in related areas like threat intelligence, incident response, or advanced penetration testing.
Remember, the field of malware analysis is constantly evolving. Regularly updating your skills and knowledge is crucial to staying relevant and effective in the role. If you’re considering a certification, thorough research and preparation will be key to your success.
Professional certification is an essential tool for success in any field. Whether you are just starting out or looking to take your career to the next level, a professional certification can be the key to success.
Earning a certification demonstrates that you have the knowledge and skills required to excel in your chosen profession. In addition, a certification can help you to stand out from the competition when applying for jobs or promotions.
Furthermore, many employers offer incentives for employees with professional certifications, such as higher pay or bonuses. Finally, a professional certification can give you a sense of pride and satisfaction, knowing that you have achieved a significant milestone in your career.
If you want to advance your career as a malware analyst, consider gaining one or more of the professional certifications mentioned in this guide.
Be sure to check with the supporting organization for each certification to get all the details on what is required before taking the plunge. The benefits of having a certification will far outweigh the costs, and you can usually recoup the investment in only a few short months.