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Cyber Security Interview Questions and Answers

by Interview Kickstart Team in Interview Questions
October 21, 2022

Cyber Security Interview Questions and Answers

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Cybersecurity Ventures has predicted that cybercrimes will cost the world $10.5 trillion per year by 2025. With the ever-looming danger of cybercrimes, tech companies are always on the lookout for skilled cyber security engineers, making it a lucrative career option, without question!

However, there is a huge skill gap in the cyber security space. Robert Herjavec, one of USA's most renowned businessmen and investors, once said, “If you know cybersecurity, then you have a job for life.” If you want to build a career in cyber security, you must prepare yourself to crack interviews. In this article, we've covered the most common cyber security interview questions to help you with your prep.

If you are preparing for a tech interview, check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation e-book to get interview-ready!

Having trained over 10,000 software engineers, we know what it takes to crack the toughest tech interviews. Our alums consistently land offers from FAANG+ companies. The highest ever offer received by an IK alum is a whopping $1.267 Million!

At IK, you get the unique opportunity to learn from expert instructors who are hiring managers and tech leads at Google, Facebook, Apple, and other top Silicon Valley tech companies.

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We have broken down the cyber security interview questions into the following sections:

  • Basic Cyber Security Interview Questions With Answers
  • Intermediate Cyber Security Interview Questions With Answers
  • Advanced Cyber Security Interview Questions With Answers
  • Scenario-Based Cyber Security Interview Questions With Answers
  • Frequently Asked Questions on Cyber Security Interviews

Basic Cyber Security Interview Questions With Answers

Following are a few basic cyber security interview questions and answers:

1. Define cryptography.

Cryptography helps in securing information from third parties. It’s also called adversaries. It allows only the sender and the receiver to access the data.

2. Define traceroute. Why is it used?

It helps track a packet’s route across the IP network. Its uses are:

  • To show the time taken by a packet regarding each hop during the transmission
  • To check connection breaks or stops and identify the point of failure

3. What is a firewall and its uses?

A firewall is a network security system or device that helps block malicious traffic like worms, hackers, malware, etc. It is used to monitor the outgoing and incoming traffic.

4. Describe a three-way handshake.

When you connect a server and localhost, the three-way handshake process happens in the IP/TCP network. It is a three-step process, including:

Step 1: A client makes a connection with the server with SYN.

Step 2: The server responds to the client’s response with SYN+ACK.

Step 3: The actual transmission begins when the client acknowledges the response from the server with ACK.

Do you know what skills are required to become a cyber security engineer? Read this article to find out.

These were a few examples of very basic interview questions on cyber security. In the next section, we’ll cover a few intermediate-level cyber security interview questions.

Intermediate Cyber Security Interview Questions With Answers

Here are a few cyber security interview questions for the intermediate level that you may find helpful:

1. Mention the various layers of the OSI model.

The different layers of the OSI model are:

  • Datalink layer
  • Physical layer
  • Transport layer
  • Network layer
  • Presentation layer
  • Session layer
  • Application layer

2. What is a VPN?

VPN is the abbreviation of Virtual Private Network. It provides user privacy and anonymity from a public internet connection. It also helps in protecting one’s online activities.

3. Defined risk, vulnerability, and threat in a network?

A threat can cause harm to the assets of an organization and can be accidental or international. Vulnerability is a gap or weakness in the security system upon which a malicious hacker can take advantage. Risk is when a threat undertakes a vulnerability. It can cause destruction or damage to the asset.

4. Who are black hat hackers?

A black hat hacker tries to steal confidential data without permission. The hacker tries to conduct malicious activities with the assessed data, such as injecting worms, malware, or viruses.

5. How often and when should you do patch management?

We should do patch management just after software updates are released. All network devices must get patch management at least once every month.

In addition to these questions, experienced professionals will have to prepare for advanced-level cyber security questions. Find them below.

Advanced Cyber Security Interview Questions With Answers

Go through the following list to understand the types of advanced-level cyber network security interview questions with answers:

1. Define botnet.

A botnet or a robot network is a harmful malware that can attack a computer network under a single hacker called a bot herder. It is generally a large-scale attack because a bot herder can attack millions of computers simultaneously.

2. What is cognitive cybersecurity?

Cognitive cybersecurity means using thought mechanisms and then converting them to be utilized by Artificial Intelligence to detect potential cyber threats.

3. Define phishing and how to prevent it?

In phishing, a hacker or an attacker pretends to be a trustable entity and manipulates the victim to obtain sensitive information. A few ways to prevent it are:

  • Install firewalls
  • Not downloading anything from unknown sources
  • Change passwords regularly
  • Not providing personal information on unknown sites

4. What is SQL injection? How to avoid it?

This happens when an attacker uses malicious SQL command in the database server. This includes MySQL or Oracle that operates behind a server. The primary intent is to attain sensitive information, such as personal data, client information, property details, and more. 

There are a few ways to prevent this, like:

  • Limiting allowing read access to the database
  • Validate user inputs
  • Use prepared statements
  • Check active patches and updates

5. What is 2FA?

2FA or two-factor authentication requires a password along with an OTP sent to the mobile number or email of the user. It is an additional layer of security over an account. A few examples of 2FA are YubiKey, Google Authenticator, and Microsoft Authenticator.

To find out the salaries of cyber security engineers at top tech companies, read this article. 

Typical cyber security interviews at top-tier global companies also contain a few scenario-based questions. We’ve covered these in the next section.

Scenario-Based Cyber Security Interview Questions With Answers

Companies also ask a few situation-based questions for a cyber security interview, apart from generic interview questions. Find the most asked scenario-based cyber security interview questions below:

1. Suppose you receive the following email

 Dear email user, 

We are deleting all inactive emails to increase space. To save your account, kindly send us the following details:

  • Name
  • Email id
  • Password
  • Date of birth
  • Alternate email id

Failure to provide these details will result in the termination of your email account. 

What should you do in such a situation?

This is one of the most commonly asked cyber security interview questions. This is a classic case of phishing, where hackers try to steal sensitive information. Moreover, a company never asks for personal details over email. In such a situation, it is better to ignore the mail. 

2. Your best friend sends you an ecard that you need to download through your email. What should you do?

Some attachments may contain malware, so it is generally risky to download files from unknown sources. In some cases, even clicking on a few links can infect a computer. So, we must always click on such links that seem trustable. 

3. Here are a few passwords that we had taken from a database:

UcSc4Evr!

akHGksmLN

@#$)*&^%

Password1

Which of these meets the UCSC’s requirements?

UcSc4Evr! is the password that meets the UCSC’s requirements. Here, there are 8 characters. It also contains upper case letters, lower case letters, special characters, and numbers.

4. You recently received a mail from your bank asking for your account details and CVV to fix a problem with your account. What should you do?

This is yet another commonly asked cyber security interview question, which is easy to answer. In this scenario, the best thing to do is ignore the email or report it as spam or phishing. 

Users should always contact their bank before disclosing any bank-related details.

5. Your computer’s mouse starts moving on its own suddenly. What do you do?

  1. Call your co-workers
  2. Pull off your computer from the network
  3. Remove the mouse
  4. Call the supervisor
  5. Run an anti-virus
  6. Turn off the computer
  7. All of the above

The correct options are b and d. It might be possible that someone is operating the computer remotely. So, the best thing to do would be to disconnect the computer network and call the office supervisor. 

Practice these cyber security interview questions and prepare well for your next interview! Remember that interviews in top-tier firms can be tough to crack. So, it is crucial that you stand out from the rest of the candidates during your tech interview. 

Interview Kickstart can help prepare and gain confidence so that you crack tough tech interview questions. Our cyber security course is designed and taught by tech leads at FAANG+ companies. We also provide mock interviews and personalized feedback loops to help you answer cyber security interview questions with confidence.

Frequently Asked Questions on Cyber Security Interviews

Q1. What is the average salary of a cyber security engineer in the United States?

The average salary of a cyber security engineer in the US is around $125,000 a year. Individuals joining at entry-level earn $105,000 per year. Meanwhile, most experienced cyber security engineers earn around $164,200 each year.

Q2. What is the minimum eligibility to become a cyber security engineer?

You must have a degree in Computer Science, IT, Engineering, or a similar field. In addition, you would also require a 2-year work experience in this field to land a job in a reputed company.

Q3. What are the different cyber security elements?

A few cyber security elements are information security, application security, network security, and end-user security.

Q4. How can I prepare well to answer cyber security interview questions?

Experts suggest that you need to demonstrate your broad business knowledge and show your passion for the position to nail your cyber security interview. Topics you must prepare for include Applied Cryptography and Information Security, Network Security, Application and System Security, Security Themed Coding and Code Reviews, and Secure System Design and Security Policies.

Q5. What questions should I ask at the end of a cyber security interview?

After the interviewer is done asking you cyber security interview questions, they will give you some time to ask them questions. To make the most of this, use this time to ask well-structured questions about the job and the company. You can also address any issues or reiterate your qualifications.

Gear Up for Your Next Cyber Security Interview

If you need help with your prep, join Interview Kickstart’s Cyber Security Interview Course — the first-of-its-kind, domain-specific tech interview prep program designed and taught by FAANG+ instructors. Click here to learn more about the program. 

IK is the gold standard in tech interview prep. Our programs include a comprehensive curriculum, unmatched teaching methods, FAANG+ instructors, and career coaching to help you nail your next tech interview. 

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Hosted By
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Founder, Interview Kickstart
Our tried & tested strategy for cracking interviews
How FAANG hiring process works
The 4 areas you must prepare for
How you can accelerate your learnings
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