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5/30/2014
12:00 PM
Marilyn Cohodas
Marilyn Cohodas
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Flash Poll: The Hunt For Cyber Talent

Our latest flash poll paints a nuanced picture of how the security skills shortage is playing out in hiring strategies for the SOC.

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Christian Bryant
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Christian Bryant,
User Rank: Ninja
6/4/2014 | 5:18:32 PM
Re: Don't Forget Instinct
@Marilyn Cohodas

I can't speak to success rate since I wasn't involved in ever newhire, but I can say a flag or two was captured!  Yes, I think it is a solid approach.  I truly believe in challenging candidates for tanglible, demonstrable abilities.

 
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
6/2/2014 | 5:02:11 PM
Re: Don't Forget Instinct
Good strategy, Christrian. what's you success rate when you make candidates capture the flag? Do they? 
Christian Bryant
50%
50%
Christian Bryant,
User Rank: Ninja
6/2/2014 | 4:01:56 PM
Re: Don't Forget Instinct
@Marilyn Cohodas - Disclaimer:  I'm not a hiring manager, but I have particiapted in the interview process. 

For me, I put the resume aside and I get right to the point.  Start off the bat with a question that pushes the candidate into action.  Tell them your company's datacenter architecture, how many servers, the OS ecosystems, applications and network, and maybe one or two known weaknesses.  Now, the questions: "How do you penetrate our network and take root for at least one system in our datacenter?" or "How do you bring our datacenter services down such that our clients no longer have functional connectivity?" and "What recommendations would you have toward buttoning up our security?"  How they answer that will tell you at least if they are 1) experienced in doing that type of thing, and 2) knowledgable beyond books and research.  In fact, you really don't want someone (like me, for instance) who is widely read, but has never actually done the work.  

The follow-up to this is actually putting the candidate down in front of a system with a decent toolset pre-installed, from penetration tools to interpreters (Ruby, Python, etc) and give them a flag to capture.  Seriously - because I think that time is money in today's tech environment, and if you can't do what you say you can do, and do it efficiently and with intelligence, and demonstrate a knack for the work, as well as a passion for all the work entails, then why are you applying for the job? 
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
6/1/2014 | 6:30:46 PM
Re: Don't Forget Instinct
That's an intersesting filter rule for hiring cyber talent, Christian. How do you know someone has the "killer instinct" that you speak of? Is it a gut check on your part or are there quesitons you ask or "tells" that you observe.
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
6/1/2014 | 6:27:06 PM
Re: ROI
Ryan,

That makes perfect sense but I'm curious to hear some examples of exactly this would work. Can you describe some of the metrics that you follow and how they are interpreted? 
RyanSepe
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RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
5/30/2014 | 10:22:32 PM
ROI
I also think as security professionals, though it may be hard to correlate to precise dollars and cents, we need to show how are value is ten times that of our expense. I know it may have a negative connotation, but many enterprises put huge emphasis on budget. Its a reality that needs to be acknowledged for a business to stay successful.

Not all, but many people are aware of the security risks involved in data security. Between Utilities, Finance, Healthcare, and retail the past breaches represent a tangible threat that is now in the faces of most executives. It cannot be ignored.

What makes it easier to get executives of the business to get behind hiring a solid security team, can be to display a return on investment. I know from a healthcare background that one spreadsheet of lost PHI can cost thousands to hundreds of thousands. By providing appropriate metrics for each respectable business type in accordance with the regulations and standards mandated by that business type, you can show that its not only a prudent idea to have a capable security team, but financially responsible.
Christian Bryant
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Christian Bryant,
User Rank: Ninja
5/30/2014 | 7:00:34 PM
Don't Forget Instinct
I think one of the areas companies searching for security professionals are lax in is gauging the instinct factor.  Depending on why you are hiring the resource, there are varying levels of "killer" instinct needed for someone to be a successful security professional.  It's like any other hacking career path, whether it be security, architecture, coding, testing - each area requires a certain panache and natural instinct. 

I commented on another story about fear being a factor in not hiring a certain class of hacker/cracker, those with criminal records.  I think this is a similar thing.  You really want someone who has that killer instinct and can come in and rip your network environment to shreds quickly, then turn around and show you how they did it, and what you need to do to prevent someone else from doing it.  Do you want a monitor-watcher or a proactive resource that can save your business from nefarious assaults?  Getting past the fear of whether you can trust that person is a real dilemma, true.  It must be dealt with quickly, however.

Of course, every business has different needs, based upon size, budget and sensitivity of data.  But again, never let the review of a candidate's instinct get passed over.  It could make the difference between having a reputation for being a secure business, or reading about being an insecure business in an exploit.
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
5/30/2014 | 1:49:13 PM
Re: Security Talent Pool Small
It's a great place for you to be Randy. I totally agree. 
Randy Naramore
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Randy Naramore,
User Rank: Ninja
5/30/2014 | 12:59:56 PM
Security Talent Pool Small
It is true the talent pool is small but many times the ones in the pool have spent years in the trade honing their skills to a marketable level. So while the skill level is shallow, it is often quality and not quantity that is represented in the pool. If the demand for security practitioners continues to grow so will the level of skill that is required to stay marketable. As one of the ones in the shallow pool, I say this is not a bad place to be.
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