Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

News & Commentary

11/15/2019
01:40 PM
Joshua Goldfarb
Joshua Goldfarb
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail vvv
50%
50%

12 Tips for Dealing with a Manipulative Security Manager

Don't let yourself be stuck in an unhealthy work environment with a toxic manager who takes advantage of your talent.

In my experience, top security performers love nothing more than to solve problems and improve the state of security where they work. These star professionals give much of themselves to any organization to which they belong. There are good managers who treat this type of exemplary employee in a healthy, constructive manner. There are also more than a few bad managers who use a variety of manipulative techniques to put problem solvers down.

Worse, while the personality type of many top performers empowers them to excel in our field, it also sets them up to be taken advantage of and exploited. Here are 12 warning signs to show how to distance yourself out of a toxic work environment and into a healthy one, before too much time has elapsed.

  1. No straight answers: Ask a question, get an answer, right? Not in an unhealthy situation. If you find yourself asking straightforward questions and not getting straightforward, direct answers, take notice.
  2. The story keeps changing: A famous quote attributed to Mark Twain says it all: "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything." When the story keeps changing to suit whatever point is being made or whatever narrative is being told, be aware.
  3. Lack of focus: It's easier to move from one shiny object to the next than to focus on strategy, vision, goals, and objectives. Further, distraction and noise are great ways to cover lack of progress. If the security targets keeps moving, it's a sign.
  4. Lack of clarity: Do you find it hard to get any type of commitment or clarity in writing? Does written communication contain only vague statements or a promise to get back to you later? That makes it much easier to say "I never said that" or to change the story later.
  5. Blame game: A good manager will accept responsibility when things go wrong and distribute the credit when things go right. If your manager does the opposite, that's not a good sign. In particular, if you, as a top performer, always seem to be the problem, it could mean that your manager sees you as a threat and wants to keep you from succeeding. 
  6. No visibility: Even the most open of managers will have topics that they cannot share with their employees. That being said, a good manager will provide a decent amount of visibility into what they're up to. If, instead, he or she shrouds themselves in secrecy, be wary.
  7. No tangible accomplishments: At the end of every week, month, or year, a good manager should be able to provide a tangible list of their accomplishments to both senior leadership and his or her employees. Be worried if all you get is circular talk that gives you a headache.
  8. Lack of monetary success: At the end of the day, monetary success is hard to argue against. Whether it's a revenue target, investment capital, or a budgetary number, a good manager will work diligently to meet and exceed his or her goals in this area. If the manager talks a good game but can't deliver, that’s an indication that something is not right.
  9. A shred of truth: One proven tactic of manipulators is to include a shred of truth in every lie. That makes what their saying much harder to argue with, refute, or dismiss outright. If you find this happening over and over again, it’s time to find a healthier place to work. 
  10. Prying for details and offering none: Does your manager ask repeatedly for more information and more details while offering none in return? This is a common trick, and one that can take a long time for many employees to pick up on. 
  11. Seeking leverage at every opportunity: If every conversation with your manager seems like a debate team contest, that's another signal that something is awry. Those who can't succeed on merit often try to extract leverage in every possible interaction. This also involves putting down, blaming, or insulting the other person. 
  12. Taking: Some say that there are two types of people in the world: givers and takers. The best managers are givers — they want to do what's best for their employees and the organization as a whole. A manager who's a taker, on the other hand, will work to maximize his or her own personal gain. That's toxic, and a sure sign to move on.

Related Content:

Check out The Edge, Dark Reading's new section for features, threat data, and in-depth perspectives. Today's top story: "8 Backup & Recovery Questions to Ask Yourself."

Josh (Twitter: @ananalytical) is currently Director of Product Management at F5.  Previously, Josh served as VP, CTO - Emerging Technologies at FireEye and as Chief Security Officer for nPulse Technologies until its acquisition by FireEye.  Prior to joining nPulse, ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
Inside the Ransomware Campaigns Targeting Exchange Servers
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/2/2021
Commentary
Beyond MITRE ATT&CK: The Case for a New Cyber Kill Chain
Rik Turner, Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions, Omdia,  3/30/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-29450
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-15
Wordpress is an open source CMS. One of the blocks in the WordPress editor can be exploited in a way that exposes password-protected posts and pages. This requires at least contributor privileges. This has been patched in WordPress 5.7.1, along with the older affected versions via minor releases. It...
CVE-2021-21405
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-15
Lotus is an Implementation of the Filecoin protocol written in Go. BLS signature validation in lotus uses blst library method VerifyCompressed. This method accepts signatures in 2 forms: "serialized", and "compressed", meaning that BLS signatures can be provided as either of 2 un...
CVE-2021-29430
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-15
Sydent is a reference Matrix identity server. Sydent does not limit the size of requests it receives from HTTP clients. A malicious user could send an HTTP request with a very large body, leading to memory exhaustion and denial of service. Sydent also does not limit response size for requests it mak...
CVE-2021-29431
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-15
Sydent is a reference Matrix identity server. Sydent can be induced to send HTTP GET requests to internal systems, due to lack of parameter validation or IP address blacklisting. It is not possible to exfiltrate data or control request headers, but it might be possible to use the attack to perform a...
CVE-2021-29432
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-15
Sydent is a reference matrix identity server. A malicious user could abuse Sydent to send out arbitrary emails from the Sydent email address. This could be used to construct plausible phishing emails, for example. This issue has been fixed in 4469d1d.