How to stay protected against cyber threats all year round.
Halloween 2022 may have come to an end, but cyber threats are rampant all year round. Jon Check, executive director of cyber protection solutions at Raytheon Intelligence & Space, recaps the haunting scenarios the cyber industry experiences behind the scenes across the year.
For many, “spooky season” only lasts for the month of October, but for IT security professionals, this isn’t just a temporary season – many haunting scenarios are happening behind the scenes year-round. According to Flashpoint, in the first half of 2022 alone, nearly 2,000 data breaches have been reported. Beyond the already grueling task of dealing with these cyber attacks, countless other factors within the industry unnerve security professionals. They can make their day-to-day jobs as difficult as juggling flaming pumpkins.
While we know things like ransomware attacks and data breaches are frightening scenarios for organizations to face, there are a few less obvious threats that cyber teams face daily. These threats can haunt teams and even prevent them from successfully carrying out their jobs. They need to be recognized and addressed to allow cybersecurity professionals to focus on mission-critical tasks rather than getting stuck on these scenarios that continue to make cyber feel like a daunting – and even scary – field.
Achieving a more optimal state of satisfaction and protection in an IT security role today is the ultimate goal for any cyber professional. I like to refer to the ideal workplace culture within cybersecurity teams as ‘Cyberlandia.’ This is a state where operations are at the optimum state of cyber readiness, creating an environment where satisfied team members feel empowered enough to face whatever threats they may encounter efficiently. At its core, ‘Cyberlandia’ is putting people first. The work we do is challenging and grueling, and if we don’t take care of the people, the results of their work will be less than satisfactory. The only way to achieve this ideal state in the workplace is to ensure that each individual’s thoughts are valued, and their voices are heard.
Data breaches are only going to get more sophisticated as time progresses, with cybercriminals leveraging old and new attack methods to infiltrate organizations’ networks. However, the security industry won’t be properly equipped to fight these continuous attacks if there is a surplus of burnt-out professionals and inefficient processes within our security teams.
See More: Top-Down: Mitigating Cybersecurity Risks Starts with the Board
It is no secret that there is a talent gap in the cybersecurity industry – and even less surprising that IT professionals are being stretched thin and expected to wear many different costumes. Specifically, IT companies are struggling to fill much-needed positions due to a lack of security-skilled individuals and record levels of resignations. The problem at the source of this gap is inefficient practices and work overload – all leading to an ultimate surplus of burnout. As reported by CIISec, 77% of cyber security professionals work 31-50 hours a week, while
12% are working 51-70 hours per week, emphasizing the risk of burnout across the industry.
This survey also reported that 32% of those in the security profession are kept awake by job stress, and beyond this lack of sleep and these long work hours, we are very aware of the high levels of anxiety and stress experienced when cyber professionals are completing just their day-to-day routines.
Consequently, workers are left feeling burnt out and dissatisfied – potentially leaving gaps in protection and serving as an enormous threat to an organization’s security infrastructure. In order to combat these feelings, which can be an unavoidable result of such a demanding field, more leaders who exemplify flexibility and understanding are needed. The type of managers that are constantly prioritizing work over the well-being of their people are the same type of leaders that will limit the growth of employees and create an unproductive and unsupportive work environment. This provides a unique opportunity for current and emerging leaders to step up and adjust their leadership styles to accommodate better the rising pressure and difficulties their employees face. After all, the most effective leaders are those who can set a precedent of balance, which is best done by disconnecting from their day-to-day work routines whenever possible.
Dealing with cyberattacks and data breaches is already difficult by nature. There is no need to make the solutions to these problems overly complicated. Sometimes the simpler the method, the more effective the results. Not only does this eliminate unnecessary extra steps, but it also makes the lives of cyber defenders much easier – thus improving their day-to-day work life. In a field that is already under high pressure, the best methods are often ones that exclude any further complexities. This also pertains to operating in rigid silos. Working behind closed doors in solitary environments hinders growth and fosters feelings of dissatisfaction. These fragmented walls must be broken down in order to avoid the stagnant routine that so many cyber professionals find themselves experiencing.
These problems all come back to the importance of leadership. Effective leaders are responsible for reinventing the way teams and employees operate – promoting growth and collaboration. Not only will their work be more efficient, but their levels of happiness within the workplace will also increase, which is essential to the longevity of the field. Of course, there is not one simple solution, but starting at the top of each organization is necessary. Once leadership starts making changes for its people, cybersecurity organizations can start operating at their best and fullest capacities. Some changes may require only quick fixes, but additional gradual initiatives that break down silos and eliminate unnecessary solutions will make tremendous strides for the industry as a whole.
A career in cybersecurity doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, they are very rewarding, fulfilling a role that has a massive impact on society at large. So many people have great potential to offer this industry, and there is a resounding demand for them. When put to use in the right environment, these untapped skills can be fostered and ultimately contribute to making a real societal change in this world. ‘Cyberlandia’ is not only achievable, but it is absolutely necessary to the future of cybersecurity. Once this optimal level of trust and safety is reached, cyber professionals will be able to thrive and reach their full potential, thus bringing us many steps closer to closing the oh-so ‘spooky’ workforce gap and turn what at times may feel like a field of screams into a field of dreams.
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Executive Director of Cyber Protection Solutions, Raytheon Intelligence & Space
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