Boosting your Security Knowledge and Value

EGLA TAYE Jun. 13, 2021
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The scale and pace of change in 2020 due to digital transformation and the operating model of businesses from “in-person” to “virtual” is unprecedented and has magnified the implications of cyber risks as significant and cannot be ignored. The idea that the cybersecurity threat landscape is vast and diverse is not novel; however, several of these threats have intensified because of the circumstances that have arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Available data on cyberattacks demonstrates that no business is safe from hacks and breaches regardless of size or sector. This begs the question of how large Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) and small-medium sized business are preparing to address and tackle the ever-increasing cyber risks they face?

Answering this question will be multi-pronged. Most critically, addressing the global cybersecurity talent shortage and the industry’s skills gap must be at the centre of each organisation’s objective in the coming years. Accordingly, employers must include in their strategy a commitment and investment towards professional development for those already in the field, identifying innovative ways to attract and retain new talent and helping employers identify existing and future sources of non-traditional talent.

For security professionals already in the field, boosting your knowledge and value could mean the difference between staying stagnant or accelerating your career in an area that has so much untapped potential. It is no secret that career advancement especially from mid-level to senior-level can be challenging, but consciously planning and mapping out what employers need to tackle the risks they face can make these professionals very competitive in a market where demand outweighs supply.

Here are some recommendations for boosting security knowledge and value:

1. Go after industry recognised certifications – security-related certifications are considered critical for career advancement. This is why cybersecurity professionals pursue multiple certifications throughout their careers. Professionals equipped with certs demonstrate: stronger skills in key cybersecurity domains, ability to meet security challenges and knowledge of key trends in privacy and security topics. These demonstrations are critical in an environment where technology is continuously evolving. Additionally, certifications can be valuable not only for cybersecurity professionals, but also for employers. Having a workforce equipped with the right certifications demonstrates confidence and competence knowing technology and best practices are being followed which leads to enhanced reputation within the sector.

2. Say ‘yes’ and say ‘yes’ often to new opportunities – It is common human behavior to be weary of the unknown. Often times, cybersecurity professionals tend to shy away from opportunities that doesn’t necessarily fit the domain they are familiar or an expert in. In fact, there is an unspoken battle between “functional” and “technical” teams that almost comes across as “us” vs. “them”, but in reality, one cannot thrive without the other. It is imperative that cybersecurity professionals are continuously learning from opportunities that are presented to them regardless of the domain that they are most familiar with. These opportunities can present themselves in the form of on-the-job, hands-on training, mentorship or shadowing. Employers should also encourage and ensure they are flexible in allowing individuals to pursue these opportunities.

3. Never underestimate the power of soft skills – Within the cybersecurity field, hard or technical skills are considered essential for success. This may be true, but soft skills such as communication, critical-thinking, decision-making, adaptability, persuasion and teamwork, etc. are as equally important. The cybersecurity field is in fact a business after all and a workforce that lacks soft skills will only lack the understanding of the overarching business objective that it is trying to meet. Employers of cybersecurity professionals should also focus on nurturing soft skills of their workforce through continued education and workshops. This will in turn lead to developing wholistic individuals capable of becoming next generation leaders.

In a year dominated by the pandemic and where working from home continues, it is important to recognise there is much more that can be done within the cybersecurity field. Investments in cybersecurity personnel both by organizations and individual professionals towards their own careers is the best way to ensure a win-win situation.

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