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A malware analyst is someone who assesses cyber-security threats for an employer. These professionals often spend much of their time learning about the most common sorts of viruses, malware, and other harmful technologies, as well as how to minimize their negative impact on a network. In general, the malware analyst provides expertise on harmful software, often called malware, and related resources used by hackers or anyone else trying to harm a web site or network. This involves carefully monitoring existing security, and finding the best new tools for improving the capacity of the network to handle threats.
Frequently, malware analysts examine bots, worms, Trojans, and other types of malware to figure out how they work. These professionals then create responses that will keep the network safe. These may include pre-emptive screening with anti-virus or malware stoppers, as well as the maintenance of firewalls, or human efforts to isolate and destroy malware.
Many who understand the role of a malware analyst say that it includes reverse engineering. Reverse engineering is the process of looking into a compiled software product and figuring out how it is made. Malware analysts may do this with malware in order to build the most effective responses.
Beyond just running and testing programs, malware analysts may do much more for a company. They help to evaluate the general strengths and weaknesses of a network. Malware analyst professionals often act as the vanguard for cyber-security, alerting leadership to the real risks of a network setup. These professionals may also become part of the greater analyst community, by writing on malware issues, speaking at technology conferences, or otherwise getting visibility as experts. This often helps the individual as well as the employer, and some employers may encourage these external efforts.
The average malware analyst combines elements of day-to-day malware and virus response with larger, longer term projects around protecting a network. These individuals may be involved in meetings with engineering teams, other technology teams, or leadership about just how to go about securing a network or site. Giving presentations on malware and viruses, or even training staff in computer programs like filters, may be part of the job. Malware analysts need to have expertise with harmful programs, but they also may need to have some project management and communication skills to be effective.