Careers & People

5/16/2017
10:30 AM
Joshua Douglas
Joshua Douglas
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail vvv
50%
50%

How Many People Does It Take to Defend a Network?

The question is hard to answer because there aren't enough cybersecurity pros to go around.

How many people does it take to defend a network? The short answer is: more than most organizations can afford. This means real danger as the number of attacks against our collective enterprises increases exponentially year after year.

To have full 24/7 capability of proactive cyber hunting and monitoring, midsize organizations need a team of at least 10 experienced cybersecurity experts, and that could easily increase to 25 for larger organizations in need of responding to and mitigating regular incidents. Although this seems to be a simple answer, it's not a practical one. Even if you could afford to hire 10 people, there aren't enough cybersecurity professionals to fill these roles, and talent retention comes at a steep cost.

[Check out the two-day Dark Reading Cybersecurity Crash Course at Interop ITX, May 15 & 16, where Dark Reading editors and some of the industry's top cybersecurity experts will share the latest data security trends and best practices.]

The global cybersecurity workforce will have 1 million to 2 million unfilled jobs by 2019, according to a survey conducted by research specialist Vanson Bourne, commissioned by Intel Security. In the US alone, about 209,000 cybersecurity jobs went unfilled in 2015, reports Peninsula Press, and the gap continues to expand. Those are some sobering statistics. Industry executives argue that even if you can hire staff, it takes five to six years to train a cybersecurity professional to perform at the level required to defend against current threats. No one can afford to wait five or six years to train an in-house staff because the tactics deployed by cyber adversaries evolve daily.

Advanced targeted attacks have led to a cyber arms race of sorts, one that prices most small and midsize enterprises out of the competition, while putting severe resource constraints on even the largest organizations. Add to this the significant cybersecurity talent gap in the workforce, and it appears unlikely that any organization can effectively out-hire the cyberthreat.

This is where we have to face the "make/buy" decision. Building your own cyberteam isn’t practical for many companies. To deal with the problem immediately, there is the option to outsource cybersecurity to capable threat hunters. This way organizations get the resources they need in both personnel and technology to shift the burden to the attackers to find a softer target.

Hunters use behavioral analysis to continually counter their evasive human adversaries. Of course, since successful threat hunting is predominately a human-based activity, it takes a highly skilled and experienced staff to implement an effective 24/7 program. 

Although some are quick to point to automation as the answer, even advanced automated systems can detect only so much, and cyber professionals are still required for the most sophisticated threats. Even though prevention, monitoring, and remediation tools alone are inadequate, threat hunting — assisted with security orchestration — has emerged as the most effective approach to cybersecurity, reducing dwell time and shifting the financial burden to the attackers. 

When it comes to cybersecurity, perhaps a better quantitative question for organizational leadership to consider than the one we began with would be, "How many attackers are already lurking on my networks, since I don't have a capable threat-hunting team in place?" The future of your organization might depend on the answer to this question.

Related Content:

 

Joshua Douglas has nearly two decades of experience in helping global enterprises and government agencies secure their most prized business/mission assets. During his 10+ years at Raytheon, he has served as the CTO for Forcepoint, overseen Raytheon's Cyber Security ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Joe Stanganelli
50%
50%
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
5/22/2017 | 8:20:01 PM
Virtual "We're Closed" signs?
I wonder if the solution for a lot of small enterprises may eventually become a full shutdown of all system during non-peak hours.  Think of it like "Sorry, We're Closed" 2.0.

Obviously, this would only work in certain contexts, and bear with it its own costs, but at a certain point, those costs may be substantially smaller for some companies compared with the cost of risk mitigation and/or the actual risk of a breach.

Right now, though, usually it's the other way around, and the risk is cost-justified in the long run -- but that formula/those numbers could change for for smaller businesses.
LindsayCybSafe
50%
50%
LindsayCybSafe,
User Rank: Strategist
5/22/2017 | 4:44:28 AM
CISO? Sysadmins? EVERYONE is responsible for cyber security ...
Skills shortage is obviously a concern, but those skills might be closer than you think - dare I say, there may be diamonds in the rough sitting in your office right now. 

Regardless of sourcing specific cyber skills, and easy-win to creating basic breach detection skills can come thorugh education and up to date threat identification techniques. 

'Cybsafe' for those in the UK is certainly a good option, if you want GCHQ-accreditation and certification for the workforce.

Cheers Josh!
6 Security Trends for 2018/2019
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  10/15/2018
6 Reasons Why Employees Violate Security Policies
Ericka Chickowski, Contributing Writer, Dark Reading,  10/16/2018
Getting Up to Speed with "Always-On SSL"
Tim Callan, Senior Fellow, Comodo CA,  10/18/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Latest Comment: Too funny!
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Surviving the IT Security Skills Shortage
Surviving the IT Security Skills Shortage
Cybersecurity professionals are in high demand -- and short supply. Find out what Dark Reading discovered during their 2017 Security Staffing Survey and get some strategies for getting through the drought. Download the report today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-10839
PUBLISHED: 2018-10-16
Qemu emulator <= 3.0.0 built with the NE2000 NIC emulation support is vulnerable to an integer overflow, which could lead to buffer overflow issue. It could occur when receiving packets over the network. A user inside guest could use this flaw to crash the Qemu process resulting in DoS.
CVE-2018-13399
PUBLISHED: 2018-10-16
The Microsoft Windows Installer for Atlassian Fisheye and Crucible before version 4.6.1 allows local attackers to escalate privileges because of weak permissions on the installation directory.
CVE-2018-18381
PUBLISHED: 2018-10-16
Z-BlogPHP 1.5.2.1935 (Zero) has a stored XSS Vulnerability in zb_system/function/c_system_admin.php via the Content-Type header during the uploading of image attachments.
CVE-2018-18382
PUBLISHED: 2018-10-16
Advanced HRM 1.6 allows Remote Code Execution via PHP code in a .php file to the user/update-user-avatar URI, which can be accessed through an "Update Profile" "Change Picture" (aka user/edit-profile) action.
CVE-2018-18374
PUBLISHED: 2018-10-16
XSS exists in the MetInfo 6.1.2 admin/index.php page via the anyid parameter.