By: Nihad Hassan
March 8, 2022
8 Leadership Skills Every Cybersecurity Professional Must Have
By: Nihad Hassan
March 8, 2022
Cybersecurity has become a big concern for organizations worldwide. The accelerated shift to cloud solutions, the increased number of IoT devices, and the expansion of supply chain networks have increased organizations' cyberattack surface and made them vulnerable to different cyber threats. Nowadays, most organizations have their security teams to respond to their needs, while the small ones outsource their IT security needs to a third-party provider. Managing teams and creating a cyber defense strategy are typical tasks of cybersecurity managers. The role became critical over time.
Becoming a leader in technology job roles does not only require having technical competencies. For instance, having soft skills is essential to manage and inspire other employees.
If we simply search online for MBA degrees that focus on cybersecurity, most curricula contain business management courses nearly equal to the technical ones. Organizations worldwide have become aware that technical knowledge is not enough to manage cybersecurity teams. IT managers need to work with different groups, people, and third-party providers in today's complex IT landscape. Knowing how to manage and communicate with people from various backgrounds becomes vital.
To ensure the security of their organization's data, customer's sensitive data, and IT infrastructure, management skills are necessary for success in all cybersecurity management roles.
This article will list the essential leadership and management skills that any person following a cybersecurity management role must understand to operate successfully.
Leadership Skills For Cybersecurity Professionals
The job role of an IT manager is not limited to the technical sides within their organizations. For instance, the following management duties are inherent in IT managers' work:
- Manage IT projects and resources allocations.
- Data analysis.
- Competitor's intelligence - for example, using different OSINT techniques.
- Manage IT staff and monitor their performance over time.
- Participate in developing an organization's IT security policies.
- Oversee IT security budget and request funding for IT projects.
- Ensure all employees follow the appropriate ethical behavior at work.
- Research emerging technologies, hardware, and software, and suggest using them to top management if applicable.
- Training employees on different IT topics, especially understanding how malicious actors execute various cyberattacks, such as phishing and social engineering attacks.
Integrity And Ethical Behavior
A person with integrity is the one that does not lie, cheat, steal or take any immoral action. Such people gain respect and inspire other people to follow their work ethics. In addition, it is essential in security roles, as the lack of integrity by any employee can lead to a data breach or bring intentional damage (sabotage) to an organization's IT infrastructure.
Data breaches hurt the organization's reputation and led to paying huge fines to regulatory compliance bodies, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS.
Analytics skills refer to the person's ability to think of a situation from different angles in his mind and then draw a solution or route to solve a particular problem. For example, an IT manager needs analytical thinking to see if a specific emerging technology or product fits its organization's IT environment. Analytical thinking is also necessary to determine the perfect time to develop or update current hardware products or IT software solutions.
They need to have deep analytical thinking; this allows them to respond promptly to sudden circumstances in their environment and develop a proper solution.
Cybersecurity managers are expected to have comprehensive knowledge about the various data protection laws implemented worldwide. For instance, GDPR applies to any organization, or online application, that processes or stores European union citizens' personal information. Therefore, understanding your organization's obligations towards such regulations is relevant for cybersecurity professionals.
Remember, data protection regulations are changing continually. New agreements appear every year in different places worldwide. The internet's borderless nature makes most organizations that own a website and accept visitors from other countries subject to different privacy laws. They must remain updated about these laws and their knowledge to help their organizations comply with the implemented regulatory requirements.
Knowledge Of The Industry
Cybersecurity professionals should remain up-to-date with the latest technological trends, cyber threats, attack vectors, and the best countermeasures to prevent and defeat cyberattacks. Industry knowledge is a mix of soft and technical skills. For instance, a manager should understand the latest management trends (soft skill) while still researching to understand and predict future cyber threats trends and the best technical solutions to counter them before they pose a risk (technical skill).
A routine job of a cybersecurity manager is to face problems. Problems can arise from different work areas, such as employees, third-parties providers, technical issues, and even conflict between employees. Furthermore, they should always invent creative ways to solve work problems, especially security challenges that involve unpredictable variables that complicate creating a kind of knowledge to solve them using predefined procedures.
Innovation And Working Within Limited Budget
This is an essential skill that cybersecurity managers should develop. When businesses face challenging economic times, they set restrictions on the IT security budget, including hiring new cybersecurity employees. A successful cybersecurity manager should have the ability to survive within a limited budget by directing the fund to the most needed places and using innovation to select the best tools and service providers to achieve maximum security within the budget constraints.
Good And Concise Communication
Cybersecurity leaders should have the ability to communicate their business objectives, strategies, and work plans to other employees. Employees should be comfortable discussing work plans with their leader; they should have the freedom to discuss anything and give their opinions openly. A cybersecurity manager will encourage his team members to put cyber defense plans and strategies; this makes team members more involved, increases their loyalty, and feels more responsible for preventing cyber threats from hitting their organization.
Cybersecurity has become an integral component of every organization working in today's digital age. Unfortunately, many people still think that technical skills and expertise are enough for cybersecurity professionals to take managerial roles. However, this is inaccurate. For instance, cybersecurity professionals should have solid soft skills and personality traits to help them succeed in this complex profession. Working under pressure, being a good communicator, and having integrity and ethical behaviors are essential characteristics for cybersecurity professionals that help them solve complex problems and protect their organization's sensitive data from the growing number of cyber threats.