News & Commentary
6/20/2014
12:00 PM
Marilyn Cohodas
Marilyn Cohodas
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Flash Poll: Critical Skills Gap In Threat Intelligence

Our latest poll reflects members' concerns over how to stay on top of the latest attack trends, defenses, and technologies.

In a view from inside the security operations center, technical knowledge about forensics, threat intelligence, and malware are more critical workplace deficits than diversity, according to a recent Dark Reading online flash poll.

Our poll, which took a deep dive into the current security talent gap, asked the Dark Reading community to identify three security skills or traits that are most lacking in their SOCs. The results, depicted in the graph below, show a concern among respondents about their ability to stay on top of the latest attack trends, defenses, and technologies.

Among the top five responses, communication, in fourth place, was the only skill outside the realm of basic infosec that respondents identified from a list of 10; the list also included characteristics like professional certifications, general business experience, and workplace diversity.

What are the top three skills or qualities that are most lacking in your SOC?

It’s interesting to note that diversity (or lack thereof) came up dead last in the poll, which, to put it in a positive light, is probably a pretty accurate depiction of the composition of most information technology departments today rather than the basis for a discrimination claim or a knock on the security community’s commitment to equal opportunity.

At Google, for instance, a recently released diversity report detailing its current workplace demographics showed that among tech employees, the breakdown was 83 percent men and 60 percent white. “We’re not where we want to be,” observed Laszlo Bock, Google’s Senior Vice President, People Operations. That's a sentiment that's hard to dispute.

Not surprisingly, professional certifications came up eighth on the list, which seems to me less a comment on the enduring argument over the value of a security credential than an indication that certs like CISSP are already in abundance on the resumés of Dark Reading security teams.

Respondents also gave short shrift to the idea that it’s important for security teams to have a working knowledge of their industry or experience managing vendors.

For our next poll, we are looking for input for calculating a CEO risk management report card. If you were assessing your chief exec on his or her commitment to better cyber security and lower risk, what grade would you give? The criteria:

  • Grade A: It's a top priority -- we've got all the right tools, budget, and staff
  • Grade B: We're moving in the right direction, but we lack critical tools   
  • Grade C: We're meeting the minimum compliance requirements, but barely       
  • Grade D: We're flying blind -- our tools are outdated and our team needs more support and training   
  • Grade F: Epic fail -- we're an open target for attack

Click here to grade your CEO. And, as always, be sure to share your thoughts in the comments.   

Marilyn has been covering technology for business, government, and consumer audiences for over 20 years. Prior to joining UBM, Marilyn worked for nine years as editorial director at TechTarget Inc., where she launched six Websites for IT managers and administrators supporting ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Marilyn Cohodas
50%
50%
Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
6/23/2014 | 7:40:43 AM
Re: The Team Rules -- jack of all trades
@RobertMcDougal 

You make a great point about specialization. And I suspect your experience -- wearing many security hats-- is fairly typical.  As InfoSec continues to mature and evolve along with the threat landscape, there would definitely seem to be a need for a core group of specialists within the SOC. especially in larger companies. Is anyone aware of that type of organizational structure now?
Robert McDougal
100%
0%
Robert McDougal,
User Rank: Ninja
6/22/2014 | 9:39:17 AM
Re: The Team Rules
To add to your point, in my experience organizations attempt to cover all areas of security with as few people as possible.  This practice forces the security professionals in those enterprises to become a jack of all trades and master of none.  

We need to do a better job of educating management of the value of security specialization.  Unlike, other areas of IT such as system administratrion or network management you cannot get away with only hiring generalists.  
Christian Bryant
50%
50%
Christian Bryant,
User Rank: Ninja
6/20/2014 | 7:35:03 PM
The Team Rules
Is it possible this partially reflects the habit of some companies to keep dropping hats on the same tech with the idea of saving money?  I would argue, especially in enterprise-scale organizations, that security is a team op, and that you couldn't expect one or two people to fill every role, from forensics examiner to systems and network auditor, or to be a perimeter protection analyst, incident handler and intrusion analyst all in one, or even jump from pen tester to reverse engineer, and then secure software programmer/auditor.  A solid security team should break the load up, with each member specializing, though able to switch hats at any given moment. 

To the point of keeping up, every security manager should be daily, if not hourly, reading sites like Dark Reading and Packet Storm, or Infosecurity and keeping tabs on exploit and malware databases, looking for trends, new tech and risks, and assigning one of the team to attack critical topics in order to learn, master and defend against them.  All this requires bodies, smart and enthusiastic ones, and the willingness to do the time, the curiosity to read on beyond the news and exploit titles, and the hacker drive to see a solution through, or to beat the opponent at their own game.
RyanSepe
100%
0%
RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
6/20/2014 | 5:25:24 PM
Its up to us to fill in the gaps
It also needs to be in the priority of the Information Security professional to fill the gaps within their organization. For example, the forensics being the most lacking was true for my organization as well. However, my coworker and I sought to put this into our security initatives. He having a degree in forensics and myself having done masters work in forensics saw it necessary to develop a process which we documented and have the proper tools and protocols in place to have a successful forensics procedure. As security professionals we need to be enthiusiastic and proactive when it comes to filling in the gaps we perceive our organizations to have.
Randy Naramore
50%
50%
Randy Naramore,
User Rank: Ninja
6/20/2014 | 3:53:49 PM
Re: Critical Skills Gap
I personally believe that self study is the majority of what employees get in the realm of training. Much cheaper and the class size is smaller.
Marilyn Cohodas
50%
50%
Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
6/20/2014 | 3:03:02 PM
Re: Critical Skills Gap
It truly is. It's a job in and of itself just to stay current. Curious to know how much of this is self-directed and how much support you get from your company?
Randy Naramore
50%
50%
Randy Naramore,
User Rank: Ninja
6/20/2014 | 2:46:36 PM
Critical Skills Gap
Informative. As I have said before this shows why it is quite an task to be at a functional level in all of these disciplines.
More Blogs from Commentary
InfoSec’s Holy Grail: Data Sharing & Collaboration
Despite all the best intentions, cooperation around Internet security is still a work in progress. Case in point: Microsoft’s unilateral action against No-IP.
Phishing: What Once Was Old Is New Again
I used to think the heyday of phishing had passed. But as Symantec notes in its 2014 Internet Security Threat Report, I was wrong!
Dark Reading Radio: Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Fail
Learn about newly found vulnerabilities in commercial and open-source DLP software in our latest episode of Dark Reading Radio with security researchers Zach Lanier and Kelly Lum.
The Perfect InfoSec Mindset: Paranoia + Skepticism
A little skeptical paranoia will ensure that you have the impulse to react quickly to new threats while retaining the logic to separate fact from fiction.
Weak Password Advice From Microsoft
Tempting as it may seem to do away with strong passwords for low-risk websites, password reuse is still a significant threat to both users and business.
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Flash Poll
Current Issue
Cartoon
DevOps’ Impact on Application Security
DevOps’ Impact on Application Security
Managing the interdependency between software and infrastructure is a thorny challenge. Often, it’s a “developers are from Mars, systems engineers are from Venus” situation.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-2627
Published: 2014-08-01
Unspecified vulnerability in HP NonStop NetBatch G06.14 through G06.32.01, H06 through H06.28, and J06 through J06.17.01 allows remote authenticated users to gain privileges for NetBatch job execution via unknown vectors.

CVE-2014-3009
Published: 2014-08-01
The GDS component in IBM InfoSphere Master Data Management - Collaborative Edition 10.0 through 11.0 and InfoSphere Master Data Management Server for Product Information Management 9.0 and 9.1 does not properly handle FRAME elements, which makes it easier for remote authenticated users to conduct ph...

CVE-2014-3302
Published: 2014-08-01
user.php in Cisco WebEx Meetings Server 1.5(.1.131) and earlier does not properly implement the token timer for authenticated encryption, which allows remote attackers to obtain sensitive information via a crafted URL, aka Bug ID CSCuj81708.

CVE-2012-6651
Published: 2014-07-31
Multiple directory traversal vulnerabilities in the Vitamin plugin before 1.1.0 for WordPress allow remote attackers to access arbitrary files via a .. (dot dot) in the path parameter to (1) add_headers.php or (2) minify.php.

CVE-2014-2970
Published: 2014-07-31
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: CVE-2014-5139. Reason: This candidate is a duplicate of CVE-2014-5139, and has also been used to refer to an unrelated topic that is currently outside the scope of CVE. This unrelated topic is a LibreSSL code change adding functionality ...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio