How to Become a Security Code Auditor

A security code auditor can also be referred to as a security analyst, information security analyst, information technology auditor, secure code auditor, security auditor, or source code auditor. Becoming a security code auditor requires a good foundation in computer programming, operating systems and network security, as well as cryptography, penetration testing and software security.

The job of a security code auditor involves, as the name implies, evaluating the code that keeps computer systems secure. This requires advanced technical skills and carries much responsibility. They must check computer systems for any inadequacies, vulnerabilities, and security risks. They must also make recommendations to the appropriate personnel for improving and resolving security issues that they do find. Often, organizations are unaware of security risks until a security code auditor has performed an audit and discovered them. Therefore, the job of a security code auditor is one of the most important jobs on the cybersecurity team.

If you would like to discover how you can become a security code auditor, keep reading. This article will describe the education, experience, and training necessary to become a security code auditor, as well as what duties are expected of them and what the outlook looks like for security code auditors.

Education and Experience Required to Become a Security Code Auditor

Becoming a security code auditor requires at least a bachelor’s degree.  Majors that are most conducive to this career include cybersecurity, information security, computer science and information technology. To find an accredited Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Degree in your state, consult our guide. Examples of bachelor’s degrees that can help you to become a security code auditor are:

  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science – Cybersecurity Concentration – University of North Carolina, Charlotte
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Networking & Information Technology – University of Wisconsin, Stout
  • Bachelor of Applied Science – Concentration in Information Security & Assurance – University of Hawaii – West Oahu
  • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity – Southeast Missouri State University

A graduate degree is not necessary in order to become a security code auditor, but some choose to get one in order to advance their careers more quickly.

Experience is also necessary to become a security code auditor, as the job is not entry-level. Before you will be able to be hired as a security code auditor, you should have experience in positions working as a penetration tester, vulnerability tester, in digital forensics, as a network administrator, or as a security administrator.

Professional industry certifications are also recommended, as they can help you to land security code auditor positions. Certifications show potential employers that you are up-to-date with current trends in the field and have stayed on top of technological advances.  Examples of certifications that are desired by employers of security code auditors are:

  • GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)-EC-Council
  • Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  • Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
  • CompTIA Pen Test+
  • Certified Security Analyst (ECSA) – EC-Council
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

Job Description & Skills Required for a Security Code Auditor

Security code auditors may work directly as employees of a company, or may be hired as an independent consultant. Either way, they must have a broad background in computers and information technology, including operating systems, computer hardware and computer software. Job expectations that a security code auditor may have include, but are not limited to:

  • Helping the development team to prepare code for the auditing process
  • Conducting a manual audit and code review
  • Look closely at all source code, without skipping any lines, to find potential vulnerabilities
  • Review all authentication, authorization, session and communication mechanisms
  • Familiarity with programming languages including Java, PHP, C# and C++
  • Understanding of security standards including SOX, EU/Safe Harbor, NERC, PCI, HIPAA and FFIEC
  • Familiarity with operating systems such as Windows and Unix
  • Experience working with ORACLE and MSSQL
  • Familiarity with security frameworks
  • Knowledge of network and system architecture
  • Knowledge of OWASP Top Ten vulnerabilities
  • Familiarity with secure coding standards and guidelines such as CERT/CC, MITRE, Sun and NIST
  • Familiarity with source code analysis tools
  • Conduct penetration testing to order weaknesses and categorize them into high and low risk ones
  • After investigating, identify all weak spots of code where information could leak through
  • Awareness of the legalizations of commercial and open source licensing
  • Review any third-party libraries for security leaks
  • Experience with database security
  • Familiarity with encryption protocols and techniques
  • Documentation of the results of conducted audits and investigations
  • List actions to be taken by development teams to avoid future problems
  • Educate others in organization on security concepts and developments in future coding

Skills that security code auditors should possess include, but are not limited to:

  • Good analytical skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Self-motivation
  • Strong communication skills, both orally and in writing
  • Able to interact with personnel at all levels of the organization
  • Able to work well on a team and individually
  • Excellent leadership skills
  • Patience and ability to work well under stress

Security Code Auditor Salary & Job Outlook

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not denote the typical annual salary for security code auditors., however, specifies the average information technology (IT) auditor salary at $67,816. They further go on to note that the top two cities in which IT auditors are paid the highest salaries in the United States are New York, NY and Boston, MA.

The BLS notes that jobs within the information security analyst field (which include security code auditors) are expected to increase at a rate of 31 percent from 2019 to 2029. This projected growth is much faster than the average projected growth for all other occupations. If you are a detail-oriented technologically-inclined person who wants to work in the information security field, you should consider aiming to become a security code auditor.