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Top 10 Cyber Security Interview Questions and Answers

It can be intimidating to interview for a job in information security. Candidates must be familiar with a wide range of topics, including DNS monitoring, distributed denial-of-service attacks, and data leaks, to name a few. Encryption, decryption, firewalls, and penetration testers — the security experts that work on red teams — are all concepts that job seekers should be familiar with.

However, according to the experts we spoke with, remembering hundreds of phrases isn’t the key to a successful cyber security job interview. The best candidates have a clear idea of what they want to achieve in the subject of security and can display genuine interest in and concern about how cyber security has become a top priority for businesses.

Simone Petrella, the founder and CEO of Cyber Vista, claims she can tell if a serious candidate is in front of her in a matter of minutes.”If they say they’re interested in security because it’s a great field and they want to generate income, I know they’re not serious,” Petrella added. “Candidates must prove that they’ve done their research and have a good idea of what aspect of security they’re interested in.”

“I’ve adapted a phrase from prior teams: passion, capacity, and smarts,” Wolpoff explained. “You won’t be able to stay up or grow if your sole learning time is from 9 a.m.to 5 p.m, because the security space is too large.” This is especially true for those aiming to join the red team. “To become a truly exceptional hacker, you must be willing to dig in and study everything.”

In other words, be prepared to talk about yourself and why security is important when you attend the interview. Newcomers are expected to have a basic understanding of the field. Understand terms such as cryptography and the distinction between vulnerability and an exploit. Mid-career professionals and those seeking advanced positions such as CISO or chief security strategist, on the other hand, must demonstrate knowledge gained through certifications such as CISSP, Certified Information Security Manager, and Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) — or demonstrate that they are working toward those certifications.

Security recruiters value so-called soft skills, such as the ability to communicate and be creative. Furthermore, businesses need employees that are knowledgeable about business and, more crucially, how security pertains to their particular industry.

These 10 interview questions can help you organize your thoughts and improve your appearance to security recruiters and interviewers.

10 Cyber Security Interview Questions and How to answer them

Q1) what motivates you to pursue a profession in cyber security?

Don’t start off by informing the interviewer that you heard the field pays well and that you want to work in a field that is growing. While this is one of the reasons why many of us choose security, there are other ways to put it. Show to the interviewer that you’ve done your research and are aware of the cyber security skills shortage and labor gap. If you’re just starting out, explain you’re looking for an entry-level position but that you’ve done some research. Explain that you’ve been researching which qualifications to pursue but haven’t made up your mind yet. Tell the interviewer you’ve taken the CompTIA Security+ test and are considering other certifications such as Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) or Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

Also Read Top 120 Cyber Security Interview Questions which will help you to crack the Interview

Q2) what aspect of cyber security interests you?

Your response will reveal to the interviewer whether you are serious or not. While it is acceptable for newcomers to state that they are still investigating their choices, more experienced individuals must explain whether they are more interested in a hands-on penetration tester path, working on a red team, or working on an incident response team. Job seekers who wish to become CISOs must demonstrate to the interviewer how they have improved business skills along the route. Accounting graduates may lean toward compliance or risk employment on security teams, particularly in the financial sector, but if you can, talk about the topic in a more in-depth, educated manner that will demonstrate to the interviewer that you are a cut above.

Q3) Why are security teams so important in today’s businesses?

This is where you may demonstrate to the interviewer that you understand the history of corporate security. Explain how the perimeter-based “guard the moat” style of security has given way to mobile security and, in the last year, securing work-from-home personnel. It might be beneficial to demonstrate that you are aware of some of the major hacks, such as the ILOVEYOU and Melissa viruses from 20 years ago. You should also be aware of the recent waves of data breaches, which began with significant intrusions at Target, Home Depot, and JPMorgan, and you should be able to demonstrate to the interviewer that you understand the commercial ramifications of these security incidents.

Candidates for security management positions must demonstrate that they are technological experts who also understand business. Make the case that security professionals must avoid becoming caught down in discussions about log analysis data, KPIs, and software testing if they are to persuade management of the value of security infrastructure and policies. Instead, say that security professionals must convey to top management how large breaches may impact sales, earnings, and future growth by tarnishing the company’s reputation.

Q4) what skills do you possess that will enable you to be an excellent cyber security professional?

Don’t tell them you live to hack and have been hacking into computers since you were seven years old. While this may be an excellent ability to have in your next career, chances are the individual interviewing you has been a hacker for far longer and has worked on more difficult tasks. Radnori’s Wolpoff said his business searches for people who notice unexpected things and try to figure them out: “We once held an off-site meeting at a hotel, and the touch screen that allowed a user discover out about the region had a bizarre issue,” Wolpoff said. “One of the interns was fervently prodding at the smashed screen, trying to figure out what was going on, and he was later hired to my team.”

Don’t exaggerate your argument or love for the fields. Do show an interest in how networks and gadgets function, and tell the interviewer about how you’ve addressed technological challenges in your personal life and on the job. You might also discuss your hobbies to demonstrate that you are more than just a techie. Companies like candidates, who have played musical instruments, appeared in plays, dabbled in painting, travelled extensively, and can legitimately demonstrate other creative hobbies. Don’t come across as the stereotypical hacker who spends all of their free time playing video games – but, in reality, video games are an important part of hacker culture, so that’s a crucial talent as well.

Q5) what did you accomplish at your previous job?

Show them that you are a hard worker who takes initiative. Perhaps you were a network security analyst in your previous employment and worked on a team that redid the company’s wireless infrastructure and implemented new security procedures. Demonstrate that you are not afraid of new technology by advocating for it, such as password-less authentication and more effective identity management. Even better, if the CISO or top management does not want to adopt something like password less, you can make the argument that utilizing Google Authenticator or Authy would make the firm’s users more secure – and they’d actually use it and appreciate that the organization was making them more secure.

Q6) what does your home network look like?

Security personnel must be aware that you adhere to cyber security best practices, such as changing the default password on your home router, segmenting the home network at least into a gaming and home use segment and a business use segment, and enabling two-factor authentication and using a password manager for all of your main applications. Newcomers must demonstrate that they grasp these fundamental difficulties and have been aware of them for at least a few years. If you are new to the sector, wait until you have studied up on basic home network security and have a nice tale to share about your home network before taking a security interview.

Q7) what was the most pressing security concern for security teams handling work-from-home employees in 2020?

The pandemic changed the game for organizations in terms of technology and security. Almost overnight, organizations with 10% to 20% of their workforce working remotely had almost the whole team working from home. Security professionals needed to evaluate employees to identify who needed a VPN and secure access to business data and who could do the basic job via remote desktop protocol (RDP). Demonstrate to the interviewer that you realize that many organizations were unable to manage all of the VPN requests and were subjected to RDP server attacks. Explain that you have learned from this experience and can assist the company’s transition back to a normal work routine by adopting procedures to prevent assaults on RDP servers and improving network visibility.

Q8) how should a cyber security department be structured?

You may not be asked this specific question, but you should learn about the company’s security and IT organizations. Is it the company’s intention to have the CISO and CIO sit on the board? If not, do you have any plans to go in that direction?

This information will assist you in determining whether or not the position is a good fit for you. If you want to work for a firm that is far along in terms of security maturity, a job at a company that is just getting security organized might not be a suitable fit. However, if you want to be a part of a team that is attempting to improve its security, it could be a good fit. Be reasonable and adaptable if you take a job at a company that is just creating a security group. Companies have been through a lot in 2020, and if they are restructuring or increasing their security teams, you must be willing to join them. If you are not a risk-taker, you may have to explain to the interviewer why the employment does not suit your needs or personality.

Q9) what role does continual learning play in your security career plans?

It is critical to demonstrate that you have considered a career in cyber security. If you started in tech support but want to be a penetration tester, tell the interviewer that you have been working on this road for a while and understand that you must constantly learn new abilities and earn certifications. Inform them that you have done your homework and intend to become a CEH and, eventually, pass the OSCP exam. People who take a position as a junior security operations centre analyst without the intention of continuing their education will become bored and leave the sector. Demonstrate to the interviewer that you intend to work in security for a long time and have a story to tell. Your narrative could be modest. Perhaps you worked retail at a Best Buy to put yourself through college and discovered how crucial security is to a company’s success. The goal is to demonstrate to the interviewer that your interest in technology and security is real, and that you have considered the types of talents you will need to develop.

Q10) Can you explain the following security fundamentals to demonstrate your knowledge of the subject?

Despite our experts’ recommendation not to memories terminology, there are several basic terms that any candidate for a security position should be familiar with.

To begin, ensure that you understand the distinction between vulnerability and an exploit. Vulnerabilities are holes or vulnerabilities in an organization’s defenses that can be exploited. Vulnerabilities have been discovered in everything from websites and servers to operating systems and applications. Exploits occur when malicious threat actors exploit vulnerabilities to obtain unauthorized access to a corporate network. Inform the interviewer that you are familiar with how the industry tracks and reports vulnerabilities. For example, cve.mitre.org tracks and publishes information on all reported vulnerabilities.

New candidates, in particular, should be aware that cryptography is also known as encryption. It’s critical to understand how encrypted data detracts attackers and how email encryption works across a network. Candidates should also have a fundamental understanding of SSL technologies and HTTPS. SSL establishes an encrypted connection between a server and a client, most commonly a web server and a web browser. HTTPS encrypts network communications. Anyone attending a security interview should be aware that the small lock to the left of the browser address bar denotes HTTPS.

Also, be prepared to understand that 2020 was the year of ransom ware. Demonstrate that you are aware of the earlier WannaCry and NotPetya attacks, as well as the recent year in which Maze, Sodinokibi, Net Walker, and Egregor caused significant damage. Candidates must understand how ransom ware works, including how attackers encrypt files and, most recently, threaten to slowly expose them to the public if victims do not pay the ransom. Know that the FBI still advises against paying the ransom, but that this has become a contentious subject. It would be beneficial if you could explain your stance on ransom ware. Under what conditions should businesses pay the ransom? Is there ever a time when you should pay the ransom?

Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks, which are essentially client-side code injection assaults, are another prevalent cyber threat to be aware of. The attacker uses XSS to run malicious scripts in the victim’s web browser by embedding malicious code in a legitimate webpage or online application. Come prepared to discuss these attacks and what you might do in response.

Finally, candidates must demonstrate that they are aware of the numerous COVID-based attacks that have occurred this year. This includes phishing attacks in which fraudsters trick consumers into visiting bogus government websites. The victims believe they are filling out additional information in order to collect unemployment benefits, but these operations are actually looking to steal passwords. Explain credential stuffing and data from the annual Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, which shows that 80 percent of breaches employ stolen and/or weak passwords.

Finally, the year came to a close with the Solar Winds breach, which affected key government and corporate systems. Show that you are aware of the situation and that you understand the fundamentals of supply chain assaults.


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