To examine malicious software, such as bots, worms, and trojans to understand the nature of their threat. This task usually involves reverse-engineering the compiled executable and examining how the program interacts with its environment. The analyst may be asked to document the specimen’s attack capabilities, understand its propagation characteristics, and define signatures for detecting its presence. A malware analyst is sometimes called a reverse engineer.
Security product companies, in industries such as anti-virus or network intrusion prevention, may hire malware analysts to develop ways of blocking malicious code. Large organizations in non-security industries may also hire full-time malware analysts to help protect their environment from attacks, or to respond to incidents that involve malicious software. Malware analysis skills are also valued by companies that cannot justify hiring full-time people to perform this work, but who wish their security or IT administrators to be able to examine malicious software when the need arises.