Organizations rely on our cyber intelligence analysts to be an extension of their security team. Our global team of analysts provide relevant threat research, much needed context, tailored remediation advice and managed takedown support to make our clients’ jobs easier and more efficient. Crucially, by having analysts within the intelligence and collection cycle, we’re able to minimize the real-time false positives that cause nightmares for most organizations.
In our Security Analyst Spotlight Series, we bring our analysts out of the shadows and into the spotlight, showcasing their expertise and interests so you can learn a bit more about a “day-in-the-life” of a Digital Shadows (now ReliaQuest) Intelligence analyst.
Name: Rose Bernard
Team: Strategic Intelligence
Title: Strategic Intelligence Manager
Q: How did you get into cybersecurity?
A: Before working in cybersecurity I was working in an investigational role, primarily focusing on international counter-narcotics. At the time, the nexus between cyber investigations and cybersecurity strategy was still developing, and so getting involved in it meant that as a relatively junior member of staff I was able to cover a lot of really interesting and complex operational and geopolitical cases I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to otherwise. I was given a lot of freedom and independence to conduct research and create actionable plans, which I really enjoyed.
From there, it was a natural step to take the skills that I’d learnt in an operational context and apply them to cybersecurity research, primarily looking at the deep and dark web. Cybersecurity for me has always been this really interesting space that merges the more traditional geopolitical concepts of power and politics, with this really chaotic space where other threat actors can completely upturn the balance of power.
Q: How have your past experiences prepared you for your role?
A: Career-wise I’m lucky enough to have worked in a whole spectrum of different roles, so I’ve been able to get a really good understanding of the wider context surrounding cyber incidents. I’ve worked with a wide variety of different people in different countries, so I’ve really been able to soak up a lot of knowledge about things that I wouldn’t necessarily have if I’d stayed on one track. Independent research has always been a big part of my academic career, which has really helped me develop analysis skills. I speak a wide range of languages, including Spanish, French, Italian, German and Portuguese, which is incredibly helpful given the international nature of cybercrime.
Q: What do you do outside work that helps with your job?
A: I’m currently studying for my PhD, where I’m creating a framework for civilian and military organizations to share intelligence and information in pandemics and Public Health Events of International Concern (PHEICs). The practice of independent research is really strengthening my skills, as is the focus on original and critical thought. I’m also learning a lot about the functions of intelligence frameworks, which is helping me provide context to my work at Digital Shadows (now ReliaQuest).
Q: What advice would you give someone wanting to become an intelligence analyst?
A: Get curious. You don’t need to have an academic background in a really niche area to be an analyst (you don’t really need an academic background at all). A lot of the technical skills can be learnt on the job. What you do need is excellent research skills, and to want to join the dots to make sense out of something that might seem unconnected.
Also, get used to hard work, and be prepared to speak up. At times intelligence analysis can be a real slog of just gathering as much information as you can before you start the actual analysis process. And when all that’s done, don’t be afraid to draw conclusions and to have opinions. You’ll have to back them up, but original thinking is one of the most important qualities in intelligence analysis.
Finally, listen. This sector is a real mishmash of people with different skills and experiences, and everyone has a slightly different way of looking at a problem, which can draw out some really interesting and beneficial elements.
Rose Bernard has worked as an intelligence analyst for Digital Shadows (now ReliaQuest) since January 2018. Prior to this she worked for Control Risks as a cyber threat analyst, and for the National Crime Agency where she focused on counter narcotics in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Rose holds an MA in History and Languages from University College London and is currently gaining her doctorate at Kings College London, where she is creating a framework for intelligence sharing between civilian and military organizations in the case of public health events of international concern (PHEIC). Her particular interests include the evolution of Latin American cybercrime and mapping the dark web. See her blog posts here.