Information risk analyst

The top 12 information security risk analyst questions you need to know

Dan Virgillito
March 28, 2023 by
Dan Virgillito

Information is one of the most prized assets for an organization. Unfortunately, it’s always at risk of being stolen in this open, digitally-connected world. This has increased the demand for information security risk analysts, who specialize in reducing the cyber threat exposure of information and data systems.

But getting a security risk analyst job requires a demonstration of field knowledge. You need to know about multiple disciplines and what solutions can help employers effectively navigate risks. Because companies consider risk analysts to be a key layer of defense against potential threats, they can be very particular about who to recruit and will test candidates on various grounds.

Today, we’ll look at top security architect interview questions and how to answer them to the best of your ability.

Cybersecurity interview guide

Cybersecurity interview guide

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Frequently asked interview questions you should anticipate

Before going into your interview, prepare answers to these typical security risk analyst questions. Depending on the company you’re interviewing at, some questions might vary, but it is a good idea to be aware of them going in.

General security risk analyst questions

1. Why did you choose to apply for this job?

Interviewers ask this fundamental question to gauge the interest of candidates. Naturally, you’ll want to avoid giving a basic answer, such as ‘risk analysis is my passion’ or ‘I find information security interesting.’ Instead, be specific and reveal factors that made you apply, such as the opportunity to evaluate certain types of information risk. 

2. Tell us about your experience as a risk analyst?

The objective of this question is to assess whether your knowledge aligns with the job requirements. Discuss your past achievements and future goals using language that fits the company’s values. Additionally, you’ll want to elaborate on field learnings and transferable skills that suit the new role. If you’re a certified cybersecurity analyst, it will make sense to mention that along with the name of the issuing body. Standard certifications for risk analysts include (ISC)² CAP, CompTIA Cloud+, ISACA CISA and ISACA CRISC.

3. How would you determine the likelihood of risk?

Interviewers ask this question to assess your analytical skills. Your answer should revolve around the probability of an event occurring and its potential impact if it does happen. For example, what are the chances of new vulnerabilities occurring if the company switches to a new vendor for specific software?

4. How do you stay current on cybersecurity news and threats?

Cite different ways that you keep up with cybersecurity developments. Mention the thought leaders you follow on cybersecurity podcasts, Twitter, newsletters you subscribe to and cybersecurity topics and career blogs. You can even convey your thoughts on a recent cybersecurity news event to demonstrate your passion for the industry. 

5. Are there specific standards that you're familiar with that would relate to this role?

Interviewers ask this question to see if a candidate is current with industry standards. You’ll want to mention several risk analysis frameworks in your answer, including ISO 27001, SOC2 and NIST cybersecurity framework. Talk a little about each to show that you have the experience.

Technical security risk analyst questions

6. How would you secure a network?

With dozens of network security risks, companies want to hire risk analysts that can cover all bases. In your answer, mention the steps you’ll take to ensure network security. This can include installing a firewall, using network segmentation, bolstering access control and more.

7. How would you monitor hundreds of systems at once?

The interviewer wants to evaluate your knowledge of the tools used for preliminary filtering and status tracking. Cite tools like PRTG, Solarwinds and Spiceworks to demonstrate that you’re aware of the software used for tracking network activity, website health, hard disk space and more.

8. How do you define risk, threat and vulnerability on a system?

When answering this question, include examples to demonstrate your understanding of cybersecurity. For instance, you can mention SQL injections when talking about vulnerability (or weakness). For risk, mention the probability of data loss or asset damage if the threat is not identified and mitigated properly. A phishing attack is an example of a threat that may cause harm to the organization’s system.

9. What is a three-way handshake?

TCP/IP networks create client-server connections via a three-way handshake. The method helps ensure reliable data transmission between the client and the host.

 It’s called a three-way handshake because it involves three steps:

  1. The client first sends an SYN request to a server to check whether it has open ports.
  2. If the server’s ports are open, it responds to the client by sending an SYN-ACK packet (acknowledgment packet).
  3. The client returns an ACK packet to the server that acknowledges its response.

10. What are the steps to successful data loss prevention control?

For a risk analyst job, hiring managers will want to know if you have experience preventing data loss. Your response should list out the steps of DLP control, such as:

  • Creating an impact severity and response chart
  • Determining incident response based on severity and channel
  • Creating a technical framework
  • Assigning roles and responsibilities to the incident analyst, forensic investigator and auditor
  • Expanding DLP controls’ coverage and appending controls into the organization
  • Monitoring the results

11. What methods are used to strengthen user authentication?

Today’s companies face plenty of authentication-related challenges. This is why hiring managers pose this question to job candidates — they want to ensure the person they hire has experience using different authentication methods to secure company systems. Your answer should include strategies like password protection and token and certificate-based authentication.

12. How would you recommend protecting against a new type of malware?

This question helps the interviewer assess whether you can apply your understanding of current threats to new ones. You should first explain what the malware does and then give an example of a security measure you’ll use as the first line of defense (such as installing specific anti-malware software). 

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Getting an information security risk analyst job

The interview is crucial to obtaining an information security risk analyst position. It helps you demonstrate to hiring managers that your personality, experience, and skills meet the job’s requirements. 

Go in prepared by familiarizing yourself with the answers to common security architect interview questions. You can make an unforgettable impression on your prospective employer by weaving real-life experiences and examples into your answers. Good luck!

Dan Virgillito
Dan Virgillito

Dan Virgillito is a blogger and content strategist with experience in cyber security, social media and tech news.