Sample Cyber Security Interview Questions and Answers

Monster offers in-depth questions for cyber security interviews along with sample answers that get results.

Sample Cyber Security Interview Questions and Answers

Develop strong answers to cyber security interview questions.

Businesses and consumers are constantly at risk from cybercriminals who try to access sensitive information. Cyber security professionals are crucial for safeguarding companies' networks, servers, computer systems, and data. In fact, cyber security—including jobs as a cyber security analyst, IT security engineer, and information security analyst—is one of the most sought-after fields for professionals with a computer science background. Because cyber security is so important to protecting the future of a business, getting hired for a cyber security job isn't always a cakewalk. Expect to go through multiple rounds of cyber security interview questions that will gauge your knowledge of and competency in this ever-growing field.

If your resume got the attention of a potential employer, congratulations! Now, it's time to show employers that you have the skills they're looking for. Learn how to ace your upcoming interview by reading Monster's list of cyber security interview questions and answers.

Cyber Security Interview Questions

  1. Define a Cyber Threat or Vulnerability.
  2. How Would You Keep a Server and Network Secure?
  3. What Anomalies Do You Typically Look for When a System Becomes Compromised?
  4. What Are the Most Important Technical Components of Cyber Security?
  5. What Do You Know About Encryption?
  6. How Would You Monitor and Log Cyber Security Events?

Question #1: Define a Cyber Threat or Vulnerability.

Employers will ask a prospective cyber security analyst interview questions about basic definitions to ensure that they have a strong foundation in the field. To answer this question, make sure you draw on your previous experience and offer a comprehensive definition of cyber threats and vulnerabilities. The cyber world is always changing. Show employers that you're up to date in your field. Here's what you should explain:

  • What threats and vulnerabilities are.
  • The key differences between threats and vulnerabilities.
  • Examples of both.

How You Could Answer

"A cyber threat is a malicious cyber-attack intended to damage or steal sensitive data. Cyber threats often include viruses, malware, data breaches, phishing, ransomware, and Denial of Service attacks. Malware is an intrusive type of software used to destroy computer systems and steal data. It's usually distributed through email phishing and other social engineering attacks that trick internet users into giving up personal information. A cyber vulnerability is a weakness in an IT system that cybercriminals can exploit. They can include firewall vulnerabilities, insecure network connections, and lack of proper encryption or authentication. Insecure Wi-Fi is one example of a cyber vulnerability. Cybercriminals are often able to steal logins or financial information by tapping into data shared on unsecured Wi-Fi access points."

Question #2: How Would You Keep a Server and Network Secure?

Cyber criminals typically steal data from compromised servers and networks—employers want to know that you have experience preventing these data breaches. Be sure to discuss key security best practices and the approach you've taken to protect servers and networks. Use the following factors to answer these types of cyber security interview questions:

  • Technical methods for securing servers and networks.
  • User authentication.
  • Monitoring login attempts.

How You Could Answer

"I always follow best practices when securing computer networks and servers. First and foremost, it's critical to establish a secure connection by creating a strong router password, using encryption, setting up a VPN, and ensuring that Wi-Fi connections are secure. I would also establish a strong authentication system to protect logins and other sensitive information through a program such as Google Authenticator or WatchGuard AuthPoint. I also have experience using intrusion prevention programs such as McAfee and Cisco to monitor login attempts, especially for root users."

Question #3: What Anomalies Do You Typically Look for When a System Becomes Compromised?

Identifying the signs of a compromised system is all in a day's work for a security analyst. Interview questions about the different types of anomalies you may encounter, such as unusual network traffic, log-in anomalies, and geographic irregularities, are common. Be sure to explain the following when answering these types of cyber security interview questions:

  • Define an anomaly.
  • Discuss why it's important to catch anomalies in a compromised system.
  • Describe a time when you identified an anomaly. What did you do?

How You Could Answer

"An anomaly is a red flag or unusual cyber security event found on a compromised system. It could include an unknown task running in the background, a hidden file or folder, unknown users on a system, changed passwords, or unexpected disk usage. It's critical to detect anomalies so I can determine if a system intrusion or cyber-attack has taken place. At my previous job, I detected unknown and garbled text files in a folder on an employee's computer using Loom Systems. The employee accidentally downloaded the folder from a spoofed website while conducting research. Fortunately, the files were inspected and removed before they could do any harm."

Question #4: What Are the Most Important Technical Components of Cyber Security?

One of the key areas cyber security interview questions cover is your technical skill set. You should have an understanding of cyber security infrastructure, cloud security, network firewalls, and antivirus and antimalware software. Be sure to consider the following when answering this question:

  • What technical background do you have in cyber security?
  • What tools have you used?
  • How did you use technical components to keep systems secure?

How You Could Answer

"Having a secure network free of vulnerabilities is the most important technical component of cyber security. At my previous job, I set up multiple firewalls, renamed routers and networks, used strong passwords, utilized encryption tools, and set up private Wi-Fi. I primarily worked with network security monitoring tools such as Argus and Nagios to track and monitor all networks. I also used IBM Security Guardium Data Encryption to provide strong security to multiple clouds that stored sensitive financial data."

Question #5: What Do You Know About Encryption?

If your role will include safeguarding sensitive data, information security interview questions will ask about your knowledge of encryption. Make sure you define encryption and describe how it is used to secure digital information and data. Here's what you should discuss when answering encryption-related questions:

  • Explain the primary components of encryption.
  • Explain the process of encryption, such as how plaintext data is translated into random and incoherent text.
  • Discuss the types of encryption tools you use.

How You Could Answer

"At my previous job, I used encryption to secure sensitive data from unauthorized access. There are five key components to encryption, which are plaintext, encryption algorithms, secret keys, ciphertext, and the description algorithm. Plaintext is unencrypted information that gets inputted into an encryption algorithm. An encryption algorithm transforms the plaintext data to ciphertext using a secret key. Ciphertext can't be read unless it gets transformed back to plaintext using the description algorithm. I have experience using encryption tools such as BitLocker to protect sensitive data on Windows systems and FileVault for Mac."

Question #6: How Would You Monitor and Log Cyber Security Events?

Some cyber security interview questions dig into very specific skills and processes. It's important that you show employers that you know how to keep track of security events. This is a great opportunity to show employers how detail oriented you are. When answering this question, be sure to explain the following:

  • The tools and methods you use to monitor computer systems.
  • The process you use for logging events.
  • How logging cyber security events helps you understand them.

How You Could Answer

"First, I would set up a security event monitoring tool. I used Splunk at my previous job, which uses machine-generated data to monitor systems for cyber threats, vulnerabilities, and other unusual events in real time. Once set up, Splunk can also be used to log each event across all computer systems, which would be documented in an event file. This isn't just limited to computer systems; it also logs events that occur in applications and servers. Once a cyber threat is logged, it can be retrieved for further investigation to determine the seriousness of the event."

Sign Up With Monster to Apply for Cyber Security Jobs

Are you prepared to ace your cyber security interview questions? What are you waiting for? Create your free profile at Monster, and start hitting the apply button. We'll also keep you in the loop on new jobs in your field and match your resume with cyber security positions that match your background and expertise.