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Learn malware analysis with online courses and programs

Malware analysis is a crucial skill to learn if you want to develop your career in the cybersecurity and IT industries. Discover how to learn malware analysis in courses delivered by edX.

What is malware analysis?

Malware refers to various malicious software, like viruses, Trojans, and ransomware. Malware analysis is the process of examining malicious software to understand how it works, what its capabilities are, and how to defend against it. It can be helpful if you want to identify and mitigate threats, discover attack methods, and improve cybersecurity defenses.Footnote 1

In the early days, malware analysis was primarily a manual process performed by experienced cybersecurity professionals. Today, many automated tools are available that can help analysts quickly identify and analyze malware. 

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Malware analysis course curriculum

In order to perform malware analysis, you will need knowledge of operating system principles, networking concepts, and protocols. A beginner-friendly course can cover these topics, and introduce you to programming and scripting languages like Python, C++, and PowerShell. Building this knowledge can help when you want to develop custom malware analysis tools and automate analysis processes.

Intermediate to advanced malware analysis tutorials can cover:

  • What the differences are between static, hybrid, and dynamic malware analysis

  • How to detect unknown threats and identify similar threats

  • How to automate detection and analysis with malware analysis tools and security orchestration services

  • How to spot indicators of compromise (IOCs)

  • How to place IOCs into Threat Intelligence Platforms (TIPs) to help alert teams about potential threats

Learning about malware analysis can supplement your knowledge of cybersecurity and computer science. edX offers a variety of educational opportunities for learners interested in studying these topics, as well as a host of other disciplines. A boot camp can provide flexible, hands-on learning for those who want to upskill quickly, while executive education courses are designed for busy professionals. You can also pursue a more comprehensive curriculum in a bachelor’s degree program or, for more advanced learners, a master’s degree program. Find the right learning path for you.

Explore malware analysis jobs

Developing expertise in malware analysis can open up career opportunities in the cybersecurity industry, performing roles such as: 

  • Information security analyst: Tracks the system’s networks and investigates security breaches. They monitor vulnerabilities, use firewall software and data encryption programs to safeguard critical information and develop security guidelines.Footnote 2

  • Penetration tester: Uncovers security risks, handles vulnerabilities, builds a robust security approach, checks current security scenarios to spot security strengths and weaknesses, and helps meet regulatory needs.Footnote 3

  • Cybersecurity engineers: Helps protect sensitive data and prevent disruptions from digital threats. They build, deploy, monitor, and upgrade security measures, respond to breaches, test for weaknesses in the system, and maintain detailed reports.Footnote 4

  • Incident responder: Develops the guidelines on how to detect and recover from a data breach and executes strategies to prevent future incidents.Footnote 5 

Each of these roles will have different requirements. A cybersecurity boot camp can help you build many relevant skills for professions in this field. However, certain jobs may also benefit from programming skills that you can begin to develop in a coding boot camp. Some employers may also seek candidates with a higher level degree, depending on the role. Before deciding on a specific learning path, research the positions you hope to pursue and align your coursework with your career goals.

How to use malware analysis in your career

Day-to-day activities in the job profile of a malware analyst can include tasks such as: 

  • Maintain secure network services to protect systems against hackers and other cyber threats. 

  • Train coworkers and employees on IT guidelines. 

  • Audit security protocols and strengthen weak spots.

  • Reverse engineer malware to understand the reason for the malware and how to create defenses against it. 

  • Perform malware traffic analysis to identify malicious activity in the organization’s network traffic.

  • Use a malware analysis sandbox to test and analyze malware samples in a controlled, safe, and isolated environment.

Hard skills can help you get the job, but if you want to thrive at your workplace, it’s equally essential to be good at problem-solving, critical thinking, teamwork, and communication.

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