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Looking beyond to cross the security skills chasm

Cyber-attacks, like a big old snowball, continue to grow as it rolls down the mountain. And in its wake are the good guys aka security professionals who are struggling to keep pace. The reality is cybercriminals and so-called hactivists continue to deepen their skillsets while chief information security officers (CISO) across the globe scramble to find skilled employees to safeguard their organisations.

According to CIO, a leading ICT online news source, a lot of businesses don’t realise that in order to stop the monstrous snowball they have to link organisational and security practices with skilled security professionals.

Finding the right people

So what should CISOs do ensure they have the right teams on board to evolve and fortify their cyber-security practices and technologies? For one, you have to take a realistic look at your team and ensure that you have, in fact, the right people for the job. A no brainer really.

Second, is to strengthen your security team with outsourced members; looking beyond permanently employed individuals. This approach is different to outsourcing an entire function like accountancy as it focuses on specific talent that can enhance your team.

Increasingly security teams are working with penetration testers, consultants and incident response (IR) experts, why should your organisation be any different? These individuals are usually heavyweights, with years in the industry, perhaps even within specific sectors – they can hit the ground running from day one.

Outsourced talent earn competitive salaries, are trained and have no reason to jump ship and they are bona fide businesses providing a service.

Automate to free up

If your team is already stretched to keep up with cyber-attacks, the chances are you are going to be caught unawares. A lot of organisational data breaches happen as a result of failure to detect and respond timeously, poorly practiced IR plans and weak log management.

Fortunately, thanks to the rise of automated technology which simplifies the process of detecting and removing threats, teams can focus on gearing themselves and their organisations against potentially high-risk cyber-attacks. Priority can therefore be given to dire security onslaughts while daily run-of-the-mill risks are managed in the background.

Automation takes the strain off resources in particularly in large organisations where a 24/7/365 capability is required. Also, with outsourced SIEM (security information and event management) you can utilise the cross skills, experience and the intelligence capabilities of the vendor.

However, it is important to remember that in order for automation to be effective the security team must have an entrenched knowledge of its design and form part of the implementation.

Explore the less traditional

The glamour and potential massive earnings of social media have unfortunately lured computer science students away from building next-gen firewalls and other security innovation. As a result, CISOs have to look beyond their security teams and outsourced talent.

One suggestion is to upskill existing employees that show a passion or aptitude for security. Too often the focus is on only technical ability; security needs those with report writing, communication, analysis and people skills.

Lastly, look at other industries. Again, the nitty gritty can be taught if personnel have the appropriate skills and experiences. The ability to fight cyber-attacks and other security threats is not only about being technical but having the requisite passion and mind set.