7 ways to build your cybersecurity team

stylized professionals

Today's IT security landscape is a rapidly changing one, with missions that are constantly evolving. In the federal government and the private sector, the ability to keep up with demand has proved to be a major challenge, but a new report makes recommendations on how to improve the internal teams charged with cybersecurity.

In a report released Sept. 16 – the first of three – the Security for Business Innovation Council outlines seven recommendations for building a top-notch security team. The report comes amid an increasing awareness of cyberattacks and elevated focus on effective IT security governance.

"There's a difference between the old view of security versus now," said Eddie Schwartz, chief information security officer at RSA, a network security company. "Today you have targeted attacks, advanced threats ... so there's less focus on compliance and more on protecting mission and crown jewels."

The report notes that "information security function is a cross-organizational endeavor, with security processes deeply embedded into business processes." As a result, it is critical that more people at different levels are involved in an organization's security. It must be an extended team that includes business, procurement and legal sides, among others.

There also should be a core team with focused, sharpened competencies – a concept that is the first recommendation on the list. Proficiencies on the core team should zero in on cyber risk intelligence and security data analytics, security data management, risk consultancy and controls design and assurance.

On the other hand, it's also important to delegate routine operations – the well-established security processes and day-to-day tasks – whether to internal units or external providers. Organizations also should not shy away from "borrowing or renting" experts with particular specialties when the need arises.

"If you look at security today, you see organizations that try to do a lot of things – there's a laundry list of functions," Schwartz said. "The reality is you can't be that good at all of these things."

Similarly, it also is important to have process optimization specialists on the team, personnel "with experience and/or certifications in quality, project or program management, process optimization and service delivery."

Other recommendations center on relationships, including those inside – partnerships that foster ownership of security risks and a coordinated approach to security – as well as outside, to gain influence with key players that can be leveraged when needed.

The report also highlights the need to focus on the next generation of IT security professionals, calling for an "out-of-the-box" approach for developing future talent.

"Given the lack of readily available expertise, developing talent is the only true long-term solution for most organizations," the report states. "Valuable backgrounds can include database administration, software development, business analysis, military intelligence, legal or privacy officers, data science, mathematics, or history."

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.


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