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How to Solve the Security Skills Shortage

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At RSA, security professionals weighed in on how to close the security skills gap -- if there is one -- and solve staffing problems.

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JasonSachowski
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JasonSachowski,
User Rank: Author
3/27/2014 | 7:51:44 AM
Hire Character, Train Skill
By hiring people who are not neccessarily qualified but demonstrate the capabilities of growing, we can get a better mix of different SME levels to create skills that can be adapted across multiple domains.  While there is no distinguishing skills or experiences that are relevant to being an Information Security Professional, the ability to navigate both technical and business settings is important.
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
3/27/2014 | 8:48:38 AM
Re: Hire Character, Train Skill
"While there is no distinguishing skills or experiences that are relevant to being an Information Security Professional"

Jason, what's your view of credentials like CISSP certification or completion of courses in the SANS Curriculum. Shouldn't demonstration of at least a baseline knowledge of InfoSec be a prerequisite for hiring? Or is that a given. 
lafritz65
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lafritz65,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/27/2014 | 11:17:20 AM
Re: Hire Character, Train Skill
What would you recommend for someone who wants to break into the Infosec industry?  I have had an interest for years, but do not have any IT security experience, just basic familiarity from working with security professionals and following the industry on sites like Dark Reading for years.  It has been recommended more than once that I get CISSP certified, which I am seriously considering, but I wanted to know your take on it.
Sara Peters
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Sara Peters,
User Rank: Author
3/27/2014 | 12:32:06 PM
Re: Hire Character, Train Skill
@lafritz65  Unfortunately you can't receive the CISSP certification until you've worked in security for at least five years. It's one of those catch-22 situations -- how do you get the security job without the certification and how do you get the certification without the job? The infosec industry just doesn't have a clear career path with entry-level positions.

But that shouldn't stop you from taking the courses! Or from applying for security jobs even if you don't seem to fit the requirements listed in the job posting. You've clearly got the motivation, and that is something that every job needs. Good luck!
mcook300
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mcook300,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/27/2014 | 1:35:17 PM
Re: Hire Character, Train Skill
Don't let the experience requirement prevent you from taking the exam.  If someone comes to me and HAS passed the CISSP exam - that shows they know a lot about the MANY areas of Security, and have demonstrated a committment to the Profession or Career (that's another post).  I'd be happy to give that person the opportunity to gain that experience.
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
3/27/2014 | 2:24:38 PM
Re: Hire Character, Train Skill
@lafritz What field are you working in now? Is there an IT department where you can apply for an entry level job and pick up some basic skills?  What are some strategies others on this message board can recomment...
Gurgle
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Gurgle,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/27/2014 | 2:26:28 PM
Skills shortage- Personal experience
This one is happening right now though where I work. We have the standard Skill Ladder tree in Job Descriptions for the technical side. Tech, Engineer and Architect. (With jr, sr, principal sub-levels)

It is not the issue of getting past HR. It is the skill set shallowness which we are faced. Most have Network, anti-malware or SysAdmin Security skills. But when looking for higher level skill sets of appSec, PKI, Incident Response,ISO2700x, etc. we have consistent lack of skills in ANY of the candidates.

There are lots of junior and a good number of middle level skills. But above that, it is sad.

If I had a recommendation to someone starting now, Go after DB Sec, AppSec, PKI, or similar. Incident Response or Forensics may be "sexy", they are not where the Skills and money really will be long term.
JasonSachowski
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JasonSachowski,
User Rank: Author
3/27/2014 | 2:45:38 PM
Re: How to Solve the Security Skills Shortage
Accreditations are an excellent way of validating your committment to becoming a professional in a given competency.  Getting involved in the InfoSec community, such as attending public workgroups, is a good place to network with SME's of all different backgrounds to learn some of the disciplines, concepts, and methodologies.

Additionally, there are other industry certifications available that you could aim for that do not require lengthy experience.  These can be used as stepping stones in gradually demonstrating your committment towards achieving the larger accreditations.
tmccreight
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tmccreight,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/27/2014 | 10:28:45 PM
Bringing in new perspectives
I've enjoyed reading the posts and viewing the video from RSA.  Most security professionals who've been in the business for a decade or so have seen the pool of resources slowly dwindle, yet the requirements for positions continually increase over the same time span.

I agree with the comments that Marcus made in the video - we need to look outside the industry sometimes to find a different perspective.  I've made that judgement call, and was pleasantly surprised with the results.  I selected someone with a business and analytics background and trained them in InfoSec.  They did some amazing work on analyzing the mass of data we collected daily, and were able to translate this into business value.  Not bad for a junior hire!
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
3/28/2014 | 1:25:19 PM
Re: Bringing in new perspectives
Tim, What's your opinion on the emphasis on STEM curriculum for budding security professionals. Do you think they need a smattering of liberal arts to make them more well-rounded and skilled at thinking outside the box?
tmccreight
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tmccreight,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/28/2014 | 1:58:48 PM
Re: Bringing in new perspectives
I think STEM is a great place to start, but I'd like to see business topics brought into the mix as well.  We've moved more to a risk-based, business focused approach with information security.  The IT Security professionals who can communicate in business terms and understand how business deals with risk bring new skills to the security work force.

 
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
3/28/2014 | 2:24:17 PM
Re: Bringing in new perspectives
Would you go as far as embracing liberal arts as well as business a greate rfoccus on business topics? Dave Piscitello, VP Security, ICANN made that point in commentary on InformationWeek late last year. He wrote:

I work in InfoSec alongside respected colleagues who earned philosophy, physics, psychology, and political science degrees. I recently met former concert and improv flautists who are rock-solid privacy experts. STEM-centric education won't fill the short-horizon shortfall of cybersecurity talent -- and my head spins when I imagine the unintended consequences over the long term. For example, consider how critical trust and ethics are in cooperative society in general and InfoSec in particular. If you set yourselves on a course where only science matters, when and how do you teach ethics? If you must evangelize STEM, at the very least change the "T" to trust and "E" to ethics.

This makes a lot of sense to me. What do you think?

KevinK-
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KevinK-,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/28/2014 | 7:18:10 PM
Re: Bringing in new perspectives
Absolutely, I like @tmccreight's creative thinking. I have been a Business Analyst in various forms, for 10 years. I have an interest in IT Security and I am taking a series of training classes. I plan to take some related certifications. I'm hoping with my work experience and training, that I can convince management of my desire to help make a difference.
tmccreight
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tmccreight,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/31/2014 | 12:02:30 PM
Re: Bringing in new perspectives
Keep at it, Kevin!  Forward thinking security managers will appreciate the skill sets you have as a BA, and taking additional security courses really shows your interest in the field.

If you get a chance to chat with the security management team, try focusing on the role a BA could play in their organization - linking the business drivers of different units in the organization to the role security plays by supporting business objectives and assessing risks. If you can make that link, most security managers will "get it" and want to chat further!
Sara Peters
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Sara Peters,
User Rank: Author
4/1/2014 | 10:42:58 AM
Re: Bringing in new perspectives
@KevinK  Good for you!  "I'm hoping with my work experience and training, that I can convince management of my desire to help make a difference."  Let us know how that goes!


Would you be willing to share a few more details? I'd love to know what kind of work you're volunteering for, what training you're taking, whether you're paying for that training yourself or if your company is paying for it, and how you plan to make your case to management to give you a job in security.
KevinK-
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KevinK-,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/1/2014 | 4:18:06 PM
Re: Bringing in new perspectives
@SaraPeters. Hi Sara, I am an independent contractor, so I am paying for all my own training. I may have to wait until I finish my current VillanovaU training, and maybe pass either the CompTIA Security+ and/or Network+ exams, before getting 'in the door' on a job. I have more detail located here: http://myjourney2itsecurity.blogspot.com/2014/03/starting-point.html
Sara Peters
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Sara Peters,
User Rank: Author
3/31/2014 | 10:47:28 AM
Re: Bringing in new perspectives
@tmccreight  This is great to hear:  "we need to look outside the industry sometimes to find a different perspective.  I've made that judgement call, and was pleasantly surprised with the results.  I selected someone with a business and analytics background and trained them in InfoSec."  Was this someone you knew who already worked for the organization in a different capacity, or was this someone you hired from the outside? How did you structure the job posting to attract this person?
tmccreight
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tmccreight,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/31/2014 | 11:59:57 AM
Re: Bringing in new perspectives
Hi Sara!  Thanks for the comment. 

The situation I was referring to involved an intern position we posted, and accepted a summer student who had a background in physical security (she was a security guard) but was working towards her certification in analytics.  We had a job opening for an intern in our security operations center and I gambled when I made the call to bring her on board. The job posting was structured to attract junior level candidates into the SOC and gauge their interest in the position.  We'd done this a few times and had some success, but these individuals were already in the infosec field.

It was worth the risk to hire someone outside of the typical infosec realm.  She came in with a fresh perspective and looked at the data we were collecting from a new angle.  She uncovered some very interesting patterns that lead to threats being blocked and some potential APT activity discovered in our network.
Sara Peters
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Sara Peters,
User Rank: Author
4/1/2014 | 10:45:35 AM
Re: Bringing in new perspectives
@tmccreight  Very, very cool. It's really great that you could get such value from someone who was just in an intern position.
KevinK-
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KevinK-,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/1/2014 | 10:15:45 PM
BrightTalk and the skills shortage
I saw this from a LinkedIn security group I'm in. The presentation is from ESET company, which I have no interest in. ESET just happens to be the folks giving the presentation.

https://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/1718/106371
String46
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String46,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/1/2016 | 5:18:35 PM
After Watching this Video
It's become apparent why attackers are having such an easy time compromising networks.

Maybe I should stop my autodidact IT Security studies, and get a Math or English degree so companies

will hire me.

Wait, maybe my 19 years in Criminal Justice will do the trick...yeah, that's it, I rely on that instead of almost 5 years of inetensive IT SEC Study.
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