Security engineer interview questions and Prep Guide
Security engineer interview questions usually are 25% coding questions and the rest are questions about the security knowledge. The security questions are centered on your area of expertise as described in your resume and on the job you’re interviewing for.
So, if you want to crack the security engineer interview, learn to code pretty well and learn security really well. Because, if you do amazingly well on the coding questions, you may not get the job because your security knowledge is insufficient.
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The coding questions in the security engineer interviews are like those asked in a Software Engineer interview. They may or may not involve security. The amount of coding in your interviews can range from very little to almost 100%.
If you don’t know how to code, it’s unlikely you’ll pass the interviews, so don’t fake it on your resume, but you also don’t need to code at a Software Engineer level, for most positions.
Security engineer interviews can be some of the most challenging interviews in the technical industry. These interviews vary based on the team you’re interviewing with.
In this article, we will provide some insightful tips on how to prepare for your interview as well as provide you with a list of questions you can expect during an interview process.
This article will be your preparation guide for the software engineer interview.
- What is a security engineer?
- 30 security engineer questions
- Recommended books for security engineering
- Responsibilities for a software engineer
- Salary for security engineers
- How to prepare for a security engineer interview
1. What is a security engineer?
Security engineering is a specialized field in software engineering. Security engineers focus on the design of systems with safety, reliability, and dependability at the forefront.
Security engineers handle the complex security structure of a company.
Cyber security in large companies is risky in many respects because of the rapid flow of data and information.
Cyber attacks, data breaches, and information theft are often the result of poor security systems.
The best way to protect companies from cybercrime is to leave no room for unauthorized access. This would be achieved by hiring an efficient security engineer.
The security engineer needs to create valuable security systems that can protect vulnerable data spaces.
2. 30 Security engineer interview questions
- What’s the difference between synchronous encryption and asynchronous encryption?
- What steps do you take during an incident?
- What are the three pillars of information security?
- How can you bypass CSRF protection?
- What are the three pillars of information security?
- The difference in residual and inherent risk, storage of passwords, where do you see yourself in five to ten years, etc.
- What is XSS vulnerability? What is SQL injection vulnerability?
- How would you configure a traceroute in a cisco firewall for a group of windows users?
- Given a router with a 50-character randomly generated password. How would you gain access to the router?
- Can two files generate the same checksum?
- Review this front-end and back-end code, find all the security flaws in the code, and create a report.
- Are you aware of the Equifax security breach? What caused it?
- How would I migrate very, very large (many TB) of user data from a bare-metal data center to AWS?
- Using C code, write a routine to find a 32-bit frame start sequence in a raw byte stream buffer.
- How would you fix (insert broken product here)?
- How would you get metrics to measure the performance of the whole team?
- If you had to compress something and encrypt it, which would you do first and why?
- What are some ways to prevent an SQL injection?
- Write the OSI model
- Experience with Endpoint Protection
- How would you explain XSS to a non-technical person?
- What is the process in which you add a certificate to an ASA?
- Define Stored XSS
- Name and describe the OSI model.
- How did you hear about Security Innovation?
- SSL protocol and attacks in-depth penetration testing experience required
- What do you understand by risk, vulnerability, and threat in a network?
- Explain traceroute in detail.
- What is the difference between Java and C++
- What do you do if a user brings you a pc that is acting ‘weird’? You suspect malware.
3. Recommended books for security engineering:
- Threat Modeling: Designing for Security
- The Tangled Web: A Guide to Securing Modern Web Applications
- The DevOps Handbook: How to Create World-Class Agility, Reliability, and Security in Technology Organizations
- Agile Application Security: Enabling Security in a Continuous Delivery Pipeline
4. Responsibilities of a security engineer
- Determine and apply security baselines for various systems present in a company. Networks, visualization, container platform, or even just a printer - what are the security hardening guidelines?
- Design, build, implement and operate security controls such as IPS, FW, HIPS, FIM, SIEM, AV, etc.
- On the operation side, monitor security control for alerts and classify them and security incidents and respond to them.
5. Salary of security engineers
The salary for a security engineer depends on the company you work for, your skills, level of experience, location, and education. According to Levels.fyi, as a security engineer in the United States, you can expect to earn somewhere between $166.000 and $200.000 per year.
6. How to prepare for a security engineer interview
One of the most usual questions and also one of the biggest variables is how much coding the interviewers expect from you. Therefore, some positions expect nearly software engineer proficiency, most require something more than scripting, and a small minority do not require coding at all.
Again, the job description and recruiter should be able to clarify this. For this, standard coding interview preparation tips apply: do a bunch of practice problems, basically! The coding questions in your interviews will have nothing to do with security and you should prepare for a software engineer interview. But, they’ll expect lower performance than a software engineer of the same level.
You may also be asked to review a code snippet to find vulnerabilities it contains, especially if your role involves assessment.
It’s good to know that if you apply for one role, but are actually a better fit for another, they will typically pass your resume to the appropriate manager for review.
Thorough problem-solving skills in these topics will most probably get you through the interview successfully.
- Low-Level C: Bit-level programming and bugs in C
- Graph Theory: DFS, BFS, and problems there.
- Understanding of Bytecode (Java)
- Malware Reversing basics
- Dynamic Programming
- If you were blind to everything else in the interview, just remember this: you should have a conversational knowledge of Time and space complexity.
Convince yourself and then the interviewer that you have expertise in the above topics and I’ll be surprised if you didn’t get in.
The best way to prepare for an interview is by practicing it beforehand. Mock interviews help you get skills that will make you feel more at ease during the real thing, knowing what questions are coming your way, how you should answer them, and what employers are looking for from a candidate.
Related read: Mock coding interview - How to prepare online (with InterviewHelp)
Join Interviewhelp.io and schedule your first mock interview. Through your practice with experts, you will learn on what to focus on, how to manage your preparation time. You’ll learn how to stand out and give a better first impression on your security engineer interview.