Cybersecurity professionals are highly skilled in the field of IT security. They prevent, detect, monitor, analyze, and respond to security risks and vulnerabilities that threaten the business’s data and its networks. Yet with all their technical expertise, many cybersecurity professionals are inadequately prepared to handle the business side of things. They have underdeveloped soft skills that are necessary for them to not only survive but actually thrive in a more business-oriented landscape.
Working in the cybersecurity industry entails working with people a lot more than one might realize. This is where the quality of cybersecurity training and education matters. Traditional training strategies that involve brick-and-mortar classrooms and modules may have been enough in the past. But as cyber criminals develop increasingly sophisticated techniques, so do businesses’ cybersecurity infrastructures need to evolve to stay ahead. That’s why top cybersecurity programs are focusing less on the theoretical aspect by incorporating more practical applications for students to learn in real time. While this was already evident in some traditional degrees, many universities have focused their efforts on providing real-life experiences through online learning. This has been made possible through the evolution of digital resources that can be accessed remotely. An online cybersecurity degree will provide remote access to state-of-the-art virtual labs to serve as training grounds for future professionals. This will help them prepare as they will likely work in a similar setting once they enter the workforce.
This kind of training doesn’t just focus on developing technical, hacking, and analytical cybersecurity skills. It also helps security experts — and future leaders — build virtual communication and collaborative skills to succeed in a business setting. These are the soft skills security experts need to hone more than any other non-technical abilities. This is because one of the biggest barriers to cybersecurity is the communication disconnect between security experts and the rest of the organization. Security experts often lack the ability to articulate complicated concepts in a way the other members of the organization will understand. When they fail to translate technical language into business terms, management fails to grasp how serious their cybersecurity risks are. This can lead to executives not allocating the right resources to the IT department. It can also result in an ineffective cybersecurity awareness and training for employees, which only increases the risk for data breaches.
People skills aside, adaptability is the next important soft skill every cybersecurity professional needs to build. Security trends come and go and cyber criminals are always on the lookout for possible vulnerabilities. In order to protect organizations, security experts need to be able to work under pressure, tap into their problem solving skills, respond to demands, and adapt to whatever condition they are in. They also need a constant desire to add to their toolset by learning new cybersecurity strategies and the latest technology advancements that they can apply to their work. These include deception technology, AI an machine learning, asset management, and intelligence gathering.
The bottom line is that for cybersecurity professionals to thrive in a business environment, they must develop their people skills alongside their technical expertise. They need to be able to communicate effectively with different kinds of people within and outside the organization and become adaptable to the conditions as they evolve. These foundational management skills, both of people and resources, are crucial for with leadership roles for cybersecurity experts in the horizon.