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.

Analytics

5/6/2013
10:19 AM
Mike Rothman
Mike Rothman
Commentary
50%
50%

Security Minor Leagues

The security skills gap continues to expand as more companies realize what they need and, more importantly what they don't have. We need a security minor league system to meet the demand

I spend a decent amount of time with CISO-types, and inevitably there are a few topics of conversation that bubble to the top. Advanced attacks is on the list. Most organizations of scale are dealing with some type of advanced attacker and have lots of great stories about being compromised. Many struggle with mobility given that executives want everything on their iPads yesterday. And they all seem to struggle with staffing.

Yes, you read that correctly: Staffing is one of the top three issues that senior security professionals struggle with. To be fair, quite a few also struggle with getting adequate funding and resources, but even if they have budget and open headcount, they can't find the people. Since I don't know much, I ask folks where they get their best candidates. The answers are pretty consistent: internal, military, and IROCs.

The first place you should look is internally. You have great people who could very well be interested in moving over to security. Maybe they are sysadmins, help-desk staffers, or network engineers. They know technology, they've had some experience with security, and they know your organization. Don't minimize the importance of organizational IQ, since they won't have to figure out how to do expense reports or how to get something funded.

The military is also a great place to find security skills. Every first-world nation has both offensive and defensive capabilities. These folks have skills funded by your government. You have to love that. These folks are diligent, understand chain of command, are usually pretty bright, and don't wilt when you are under attack. The problem is, there aren't enough of them, and it's pretty competitive to hire them.

Finally, we have IROCs. That was the term we used back at META Group for new college grads (Idiots Right Out of College). With the increasing number of security programs at universities, we'll continue to see more graduates with security knowledge. But don't mistake knowledge for skills. These are still kids, and they don't have real-world experience. They are projects, so treat them as such. Some will make it, others won't.

But it's still not enough. So you'll need to grow your own. Basically you need to build a security farm team to provide the increasing number of skilled security folks over the next few years. That means internal training, it means taking on a bunch of interns and participating in engineering co-op programs, and it means taking a bunch of your time to grow and nurture the skills you need. And always remember, there is no crying in security.

If there is a way to support your local universities as they ramp up their security curriculum, then do that. I guest lecture at Kennesaw State every semester, and am happy to work with the professors there to refine the program with some real-world perspective. It's all in the name of making the students more useful when they get their first jobs.

But that doesn't solve your problem today, now does it? Depending on your location and wage scale, your job may be even harder. I remember getting out of school, and I took a job in a metropolitan area for less money. Obviously some security roles require on-site presence, so you may not have a choice. But you'd be much better off trying to design your workflows, teams, and job responsibilities within a remote context. With the collaboration technologies available, it's possible and a lot easier than getting a person to move to the middle of nowhere.

I guess there is another option. You could buddy up with security headhunters and have them drop a bunch of paper on your desk every time you have an open position. To be candid, you may have to do some of that for your very specialized position. But this isn't an answer either.

I'll leave you with one last bit of perspective. The top-performing CISOs I talk to take the human resources aspect of their jobs very seriously -- to the point of spending 10 to 15 percent of their time, if not more, to ensure they have adequate skills and resources to meet the commitments they make to the senior team and board of directors. That's another thing they don't tell you before you take the CISO job, now is it?

Mike Rothman is president of Securosis and author of The Pragmatic CSO Mike's bold perspectives and irreverent style are invaluable as companies determine effective strategies to grapple with the dynamic security threatscape. Mike specializes in the sexy aspects of security, like protecting networks and endpoints, security management, and ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
ODA155
50%
50%
ODA155,
User Rank: Ninja
5/17/2013 | 6:24:22 PM
re: Security Minor Leagues
"For instance, so one who is really good in doing research and has a
background preferably in Linux would be my first pick. Why? Most
firewalls, IPSGs and SPAM engines for instance usually run on some form
of Linux, if not some sort of proprietary OS or firmware under the
covers."

I Totally disagree with that, because, it leads me to believe that you have a Linux background and supposedly only people with Linux backgrounds can do anything, however Linux is NOT the end-all-be-all. I think that the best security personnel do come from the network\sysadmin (Linux, Novell or Microsoft) professions, the problem is getting them to stop thinking like an admin and look at the picture from the point of view of "...is it secure secure or not..." versus "...why isn't it secure or not...", and teach them how to understand the need for policy and why it's important to security, because in almost every case we know why something is not secure, (and network\sysadmins seem to take policy very personal). Also, these converts need to get tougher skin, and understand that when you're the bearer of not so good news nobody ever likes you.
ODA155
50%
50%
ODA155,
User Rank: Ninja
5/17/2013 | 2:16:17 PM
re: Security Minor Leagues
"Can't find people..." OMG, what a joke! Just another excuse to import someone who's cheaper. First I would suggest writing a job description that ACTUALLY defines what the position is and THEN list those (sexy) secondary and tertiary skills and stop trying to find one person who knows EVERYTHING, because you're not going to find that person and even if you do, you will not be able to afford them or the position is so low level that these folks are looking for a job on Monster or CareerBuilder anyway, learn how to evaluate talent and stop being sold on the next guy send over by some head-hunter agency.

Hiring managers need to stop being petty, some are afraid to hire a person with more knowledge and skill than they themselves might have, and lets face it, a lot of managers and HR departments do not know how to evaluate these people or their backgrounds, in most cases all they're looking at are how many certs does a person have, or they're "looking for someone to hit the ground running"... yeah, that was in my job description when I was a paratrooper and chances are that "ideal" guy or gal that you want for your organization already has a very nice job so you'll just need to find your pin in the stack of other available pins.
mbstone
50%
50%
mbstone,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/7/2013 | 2:24:46 PM
re: Security Minor Leagues
Every day I get offered another Candidate-Financed Relocation job and yes, usually it is located in the MFN. Like I really have this big bag of cash next to my desk labeled. Self-Relocation Money." I don't understand why recruiters and hiring managers think I can afford 2,000 miles of truck rental, security and first month's rent in Hootervile. And are there really candidates who are that stupid?
jim.kaufmann@imglobal.com
50%
50%
[email protected],
User Rank: Apprentice
5/6/2013 | 4:14:02 PM
re: Security Minor Leagues
I think this is a great post. However, Information Security takes some highly GǣspecializedGǥ types of people with a great need and wants to move into the hierarchies of Information Security. This is not a slam on the systems or network
administrators, but most have been GǣconditionedGǥ into to get the systems up and
operational as fast as they can with no regard to Security and what that
entails to any length or degree. I have 15 years of solid InfoSec experience and another 10 years in systems/network administration going back to the days of DOS 3.x. You need to know how the old threats have evolved over time into the threats we deal with today. Next, you need to think like a digital native and not a digital immigrant, this is step one.

For instance, so one who is really good in doing research and has a background preferably in Linux would be my first pick. Why? Most firewalls, IPSGs and SPAM engines for instance usually run on some form of Linux, if not some sort of proprietary OS or firmware under the covers.

While, I agree any one person could be a good candidate, some will be better than others. Next, this person is not afraid to read different types of (1000 pages or more) different Information Security technologies/books and studies the 10 domains of Information Security, from end to end. If youGre new to TCP/IP, Networking and how websites and ecommerce work youGre probably not ready for a career in
Information Security.

And finally, find a great mentor or mentors; mine were Marcus Ranum (Godfather of the Proxy Application Firewall) and Dr. Peter Tippett (Co-Inventor of Vaccine one of the first versions of AV, later Norton) who I worked with at TruSecure some years back, assisting with migrating InfoSec technologies from a company called Vigilinx. If you made it into Information Security welcome to the MAJORS, not the minors! All people have a vision to do great things all IGm saying is walk the walk, before you try and talk the talk. I was very fortunate, because I worked really hard at it.

I wish you success in all that you try!

Cheers,

Slim Jim
Data Leak Week: Billions of Sensitive Files Exposed Online
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  12/10/2019
Intel Issues Fix for 'Plundervolt' SGX Flaw
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  12/11/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-5252
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-14
There is an improper authentication vulnerability in Huawei smartphones (Y9, Honor 8X, Honor 9 Lite, Honor 9i, Y6 Pro). The applock does not perform a sufficient authentication in a rare condition. Successful exploit could allow the attacker to use the application locked by applock in an instant.
CVE-2019-5235
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-14
Some Huawei smart phones have a null pointer dereference vulnerability. An attacker crafts specific packets and sends to the affected product to exploit this vulnerability. Successful exploitation may cause the affected phone to be abnormal.
CVE-2019-5264
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
There is an information disclosure vulnerability in certain Huawei smartphones (Mate 10;Mate 10 Pro;Honor V10;Changxiang 7S;P-smart;Changxiang 8 Plus;Y9 2018;Honor 9 Lite;Honor 9i;Mate 9). The software does not properly handle certain information of applications locked by applock in a rare condition...
CVE-2019-5277
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
Huawei CloudUSM-EUA V600R006C10;V600R019C00 have an information leak vulnerability. Due to improper configuration, the attacker may cause information leak by successful exploitation.
CVE-2019-5254
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
Certain Huawei products (AP2000;IPS Module;NGFW Module;NIP6300;NIP6600;NIP6800;S5700;SVN5600;SVN5800;SVN5800-C;SeMG9811;Secospace AntiDDoS8000;Secospace USG6300;Secospace USG6500;Secospace USG6600;USG6000V;eSpace U1981) have an out-of-bounds read vulnerability. An attacker who logs in to the board m...