10 Cyber Security Engineer Interview Questions and Answers for Security Engineers

flat art illustration of a Security Engineer
If you're preparing for security engineer interviews, see also our comprehensive interview questions and answers for the following security engineer specializations:

1. Can you describe your experience with network security?

During my previous role as a Network Security Engineer at XYZ Company, I was responsible for implementing and maintaining the organization's network security measures. This included conducting regular security assessments, identifying vulnerabilities, and implementing appropriate security controls to mitigate risks.

  1. One specific project I led involved deploying intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS) across the entire network. This resulted in a significant decrease in successful hacking attempts, as the IDPS was able to detect and block any unauthorized access attempts.
  2. Additionally, I was responsible for ensuring compliance with industry regulations, such as PCI DSS and HIPAA. Through the implementation of effective security controls, we were able to maintain compliance and avoid any potential legal or financial ramifications.
  3. Furthermore, in response to a rise in phishing attacks, I implemented a comprehensive anti-phishing training program for all employees. This resulted in a significant decrease in successful phishing attempts, as employees were able to identify and report suspicious emails.

Overall, my experience with network security has equipped me with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively identify and mitigate security risks within an organization's network infrastructure.

2. How do you keep up to date with the latest cyber security threats and trends?

As a cybersecurity engineer, staying current with the latest threats and trends is essential for effectively protecting against potential attacks. Here are some ways I keep up-to-date:

  1. I regularly attend industry conferences and events. For example, I attended the RSA Conference in San Francisco last year and attended several sessions on emerging threats and cybersecurity strategies. This deepened my knowledge and helped me stay informed about the latest trends.

  2. I read cybersecurity news sources, such as Threatpost and Dark Reading. Staying up to date on the latest news and trends is an easy way to ensure I am knowledgeable about current and emerging threats.

  3. I participate in cybersecurity forums and discussion groups. These forums often provide valuable insight and real-world experiences from other professionals in the industry.

  4. I regularly complete cybersecurity training and certification courses. Recently, I took a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) course, which provided hands-on experience with the latest hacking techniques and defensive strategies.

  5. I frequently perform vulnerability assessments and penetration tests on my own systems. By testing my own defenses, I can identify weaknesses and adapt my strategies accordingly.

By utilizing these methods, I stay informed and up-to-date on the latest cyber threats and trends. This helps me proactively protect against potential attacks and keep systems secure.

3. Can you explain how you would approach a security incident?

When it comes to approaching a security incident, my first priority is to quickly contain the threat to prevent any further damage. This involves identifying the source of the breach and isolating the affected systems or data.

Once the threat has been contained, I move on to investigating the incident to determine the extent of the damage and collect any evidence that can help prevent similar incidents in the future. This includes analyzing system logs, reviewing security policies and protocols, and working with any other relevant teams.

During this process, I document everything thoroughly to ensure that all parties involved have a clear understanding of what occurred and how it was handled. This documentation can also prove useful in the event of any legal or compliance issues that may arise.

After the investigation is complete, I use the information gathered to implement any necessary improvements or updates to our security protocols. This may involve updating software and hardware or providing additional training for employees to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

To give you an example, in a previous role I was the lead on a team that responded to a ransomware attack. Our first step was to disconnect the affected devices to prevent the malware from spreading. We then performed a full analysis of our network logs to determine the scope of the attack and identify any other potential vulnerabilities. Based on this analysis, we made improvements to our software security policies and provided additional training to our employees to prevent similar attacks in the future. As a result of our swift response and thorough investigation, we were able to prevent any further damage and ensure that our systems were secured going forward.

4. What are some common vulnerabilities you have come across and how did you address them?

During my time as a Cyber Security Engineer, I have come across numerous vulnerabilities in various systems. One common vulnerability I often see is weak passwords among employees. This can lead to easy access to sensitive information and data breaches.

To address this vulnerability, I implemented a password policy that required employees to create complex passwords that included numbers, special characters, and uppercase and lowercase letters. We also enforced password changes every three months to ensure security. After implementing this policy, we saw a significant decrease in unauthorized access attempts and improved security for our systems.

Another vulnerability I have encountered is outdated software and operating systems. This can result in exploits and attacks from hackers seeking to exploit known vulnerabilities. To address this, I implemented a regular software and system update schedule. This ensured that we were always running the latest, most secure versions of software and systems. As a result, we saw a significant decrease in successful hack attempts and improved overall system performance.

  1. One concrete result of our password policy was a 50% decrease in unauthorized access attempts within the first month of implementation.
  2. After implementing regular software and system updates, we saw a 75% reduction in vulnerabilities within the first three months.

5. How do you ensure data integrity and confidentiality?

As a Cyber Security Engineer, ensuring data integrity and confidentiality is top priority. To guarantee integrity, I use cryptographic algorithms such as SHA-2 and SHA-3 to generate hashes for data validation. In addition, I make use of digital signatures for non-repudiation purposes.

When it comes to data confidentiality, I use encryption techniques. I implement symmetric encryption methods such as AES and Twofish for secure communication over insecure channels. Furthermore, I utilize asymmetric encryption methods such as RSA and Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) for secure key exchange and message authentication.

One example of my successful implementation of data integrity and confidentiality was in my previous job as a Security Engineer at XYZ Corp. I performed a security audit and found that the company's financial data was being transmitted over an unsecured network. I immediately implemented AES encryption and SHA-2 hashing to ensure data confidentiality and integrity. As a result, the company received an A+ rating in their next security audit.

6. Can you walk me through your experience with intrusion detection and prevention systems?

During my time as a Cyber Security Engineer at XYZ company, I played a lead role in managing and maintaining the network's intrusion detection and prevention systems.

  1. Firstly, we conducted a thorough assessment of the network's data flows and potential vulnerabilities.
  2. Then, we implemented a range of intrusion detection and prevention tools, including firewalls, IDS/IPS sensors, and real-time alerting systems.
  3. We also established a set of protocols for incident response, so that if a breach was detected, we could respond quickly and effectively.
  4. As a result of these measures, we were able to detect and block a number of attempted external attacks on our network.
  5. Over the course of a year, we saw a 50% reduction in successful breaches and a 30% reduction in time-to-detection of attempted intrusions.
  6. We also conducted ongoing assessments and updates to our intrusion detection and prevention systems, ensuring that we were always up-to-date with the latest threats and vulnerabilities.
  7. Overall, my experience with intrusion detection and prevention systems has shown me the critical importance of proactive monitoring and response in maintaining a secure network environment.
  8. Through careful planning and ongoing maintenance, these systems can play a vital role in protecting an organization's sensitive data and preventing costly breaches.

7. Can you describe your experience with vulnerability assessments and penetration testing?

During my time as a Cyber Security Engineer, I have had extensive experience performing vulnerability assessments and penetration testing. In my previous position, I was responsible for leading a team to conduct a vulnerability assessment on a client's network infrastructure.

  1. First, we conducted a thorough analysis of the client's current network security measures to identify any potential vulnerabilities.
  2. Next, we identified potential attack vectors and created a customized testing plan to evaluate the effectiveness of the current security measures.
  3. During the testing process, we were able to identify several critical vulnerabilities that had been previously unknown to the client.
  4. We provided detailed documentation of the vulnerabilities found and recommended a plan of action to remediate them.

In addition, I have experience with penetration testing. During our testing process, we mimicked a real-world attack to determine the effectiveness of the client's security measures. Through our testing, we were able to gain access to sensitive information, such as employee credentials and financial records. We provided recommendations for strengthening the client's security measures and implementing a plan for ongoing monitoring and maintenance.

Overall, my experience with vulnerability assessments and penetration testing has allowed me to become proficient in identifying and mitigating potential security risks. I am confident in my ability to lead a team in the evaluation of network security and creating comprehensive documentation that highlights any vulnerabilities along with suggested remediation plans.

8. How do you stay organized and prioritize tasks in a fast-paced environment?

My approach to staying organized and prioritizing tasks in a fast-paced environment begins with establishing a daily routine. I start my day by reviewing my calendar and identifying any urgent tasks that need immediate attention. Then, I create a to-do list that includes both short-term and long-term goals. This helps me stay focused and motivated throughout the day.

  1. I use a project management tool to keep track of ongoing projects and deadlines. This tool allows me to easily track progress and allocate resources as needed.
  2. I prioritize tasks based on their level of urgency and importance. I make sure to tackle urgent tasks first to avoid any potential delays or setbacks.
  3. I also maintain clear and regular communication with my team members to ensure everyone is aware of their tasks and responsibilities. This helps avoid any miscommunication or lack of clarity.
  4. I track my progress throughout the day to ensure I am on schedule and meeting my goals. This also helps me identify any potential roadblocks or areas where I may need additional resources or support.

Using this approach, I was able to successfully manage a complex project that involved multiple stakeholders and strict deadlines. By staying organized and prioritizing tasks, I was able to meet all project milestones on time and within budget.

9. Can you explain your experience with security assessment tools?


  1. During my time at XYZ Company, I was responsible for conducting security assessments on the company's network infrastructure. To complete this task, I used a variety of assessment tools, such as Nessus, OpenVAS, and Nmap. These tools helped me to identify vulnerabilities and misconfigurations within the network, which allowed me to create a plan to remediate these issues.
  2. In a recent project, I was tasked with assessing the security of a client's e-commerce website. To achieve this, I used a mix of commercial and open source tools, including Burp Suite, OWASP ZAP, and Acunetix. These tools enabled me to perform a comprehensive assessment of the website's security posture, identifying vulnerabilities such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and insecure direct object references. After remediation efforts were completed, I re-tested the site to ensure all vulnerabilities were resolved.
  3. At my previous company, we had a limited budget for security assessment tools. As a result, I developed a custom Python script that automated the process of checking software versions and identifying known vulnerabilities. The script was incredibly effective, reducing the time spent on manual vulnerability scanning and enabling us to focus on more complex security tasks, such as threat intelligence and incident response.

10. How would you handle a security breach that involves personal data or sensitive company information?

Handling a security breach involving personal data or sensitive company information is a critical concern for any organization. In the event of a breach, I would follow a predefined incident response plan to ensure an efficient and timely response. This plan should include the following steps:

  1. Containment: Identify the affected systems and isolate them from the rest of the network to prevent further damage.
  2. Evaluation: Evaluate the scope and impact of the breach, including the type of data compromised, and the potential harm caused to individuals or the organization.
  3. Notification: Notify the appropriate authorities and stakeholders about the incident, including the IT team, legal department, and affected individuals. Compliance with GDPR and other regulations is an essential part of this process.
  4. Investigation: Conduct a detailed investigation to determine the root cause of the breach, understanding whether it’s an internal or external threat.
  5. Remediation: Implement corrective actions to address the root cause of the issue and prevent future occurrences. This might include patching systems, revising policies, and updating employee training.
  6. Monitoring: Continuously monitor the systems for any further suspicious activity to prevent future attacks. As part of this phase, we can use intrusion detection systems and other specialized tools dedicated for this purpose.

My previous experience as a security engineer was instrumental in designing and implementing an incident response plan that includes clear steps to respond to a security breach. The plan has prevented confidential information from being compromised and minimized any potential damages. Our fast response and monitoring procedures enabled us to identify and eliminate the source of the breach quickly. Additionally, regular testing and training are conducted to ensure that the team can respond adequately to the incident.

As a Cyber Security Engineer, I believe the most important aspect of handling a breach is to act as quickly as possible while keeping in mind the legal requirements and minimizing adverse effects. With my experience in incident response, planning, and coordination, I have no doubt that I can handle any challenge regarding an unexpected attack on the company's sensitive data.


In conclusion, as a cyber security engineer, it is essential to prepare for interviews by researching common questions and practicing your answers. We have provided ten interview questions and their corresponding answers to help you prepare for your next interview. However, nailing an interview is only one part of landing a job; you also need a great cover letter to grab the employer’s attention. Be sure to write a great cover letter tailored to the job, as well as an impressive security engineering CV to increase your chances of getting hired. If you're looking for a new job, don't forget to search through our remote Security Engineering job board for endless opportunities. Good luck with your job search!

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