Introduction: Why Managing a Cybersecurity Team Is Important
The growing rate of cybersecurity threats and the new reliance on remote work have made managing employees a challenge. This is especially true for remote teams working on sensitive assets, such as information security. To manage a cybersecurity team, Cybersecurity Managers must understand the uniqueness of each member and their roles in protecting the organization’s security infrastructure.
Team members have different personalities, skill sets, experiences, and perspectives on threat and risk management. As a cybersecurity lead, you'll have to manage different types of teams such as Red Teams (Offensive), Blue Teams (Defensive), and Purple Teams (both). All of whom play different critical roles.
You are responsible for maximizing each person and unit's skills to ensure you have the highest-performing cybersecurity team. One that can identify and confidently respond to current and potential security threats.
Due to the sensitivity of your role, it’s important to learn the best practices for managing a cybersecurity team. You must also have specific cybersecurity skills, such as threat detection and risk management, and non-technical skills, like leadership and communication.
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The Necessary Skills Needed to Manage a Cybersecurity Team
Managing a cybersecurity team requires a combination of technical and non-technical skills. Cybersecurity leaders must understand the technical skills of every unit under them. They must also possess soft skills to manage people and get the most results.
Technical Skills for Managing an Information Security Team
Here are the necessary technical skills needed to manage a cybersecurity team:
- Security and Privacy Controls: Managing a cybersecurity team requires a comprehensive understanding of security and privacy controls. These include identity management, two-factor authentication (2FA), antivirus, firewalls, and DDoS mitigation. Information security teams must understand every aspect of security and privacy controls, including governance, enterprise, endpoint, data, and industrial controls.
- Operations and Strategy: Part of managing an Infosec team involves laying out operations and strategy. This includes cybersecurity policies and procedures (link to page), crisis communication strategies, cyber risk management, data security, and understanding the organization’s risk appetite.
- Effective Incident Preparation and Response: It is essential to have skills in threat intelligence and develop processes and structures for responding to major incidents across the organization. Cybersecurity leaders must work with the Incident Handler to develop the best proactive and reactive measures before, during, and after an incident.
- Financing and Administration: Cybersecurity leaders must create and distribute security budgets. By identifying specific information security costs and allocating a defined budget to each goal, companies will get the most out of their security strategy and reduce the risk of wasting resources.
- Knowledge of Information Security Law: CISOs and other cybersecurity leaders must know their location's information security laws, compliance, and regulatory requirements. This includes HIPAA, GDPR, CCPA, the Homeland Security Act, and other laws.
Non-Technical Skills for Managing an Information Security Team
Here are the soft skills security leaders need to manage cybersecurity teams:
- Leadership and Project Management: Information security leaders supervise the work of other IT and cybersecurity professionals. This requires excellent leadership and project management skills. They can contribute to the success of the organization's information security infrastructure through strategic thinking and effective delegating.
- Motivation and Productivity: It’s important for information security teams to remain motivated. This will keep them focused round-the-clock and highly productive. Cybersecurity leaders can keep teams motivated through performance appraisals, recognition, encouragement, and providing growth opportunities.
- Communication: Seamless communication is vital when managing a cybersecurity team. As a team lead, you must communicate clear goals and strategies to individuals and units.
- Critical-Thinking and Problem-Solving: Due to constant emerging threats, cybersecurity leaders must ensure they can think outside the box. This will help identify fraudulent patterns and respond to new threats.
Best Practices for Managing Your Cybersecurity Team
Building a cybersecurity team (link to page) is one thing. And it’s a different thing to manage a cybersecurity team that is high-performing and motivated. Managing a cybersecurity team comes with its challenges. Here is a blueprint to keep your security team on top of current and potential cyber-attacks:
1. Define Clear Company Security Goals
Layout documented cybersecurity policies and procedures, and explain why they are critical. It’s essential to set standards that guide security decisions within the organization.
The cybersecurity team must consider cloud platforms, DevOps standards and tools, and other relevant regulations. Company security goals must also set standards for infrastructure security, data security, security testing, and security architecture.
2. Function Mapping for Each Person and Unit
A company’s cybersecurity team must perform the right functions. It is important to clarify each person’s role before, during, and after a security threat. This also applies to team members performing repetitive tasks, such as access/identity management.
A function map must cover responsibilities that involve:
- To protect, shield, and defend the organization from threats and incidents.
- To monitor ongoing business operations and actively detect vulnerabilities.
- To minimize the impact of cyber incidents and return company assets to normal operations quickly.
- Provide oversight and management, and ensure compliance with internal and external requirements.
3. Promote Continuous Training
Security leaders must provide continuous training to team members for comprehensive cybersecurity team management. New threats emerge daily, and team members must be adequately prepared for them.
To ensure training doesn’t take professionals away from their daily responsibilities, CISOs can take advantage of free online learning platforms like Cybrary. With hundreds of IT and InfoSec courses, Cybrary provides training and certification courses to develop individual and team skills.
4. Track and Monitor Each Department’s Activities
It’s essential to monitor success in each department, such as the red team, blue team, or purple team. This allows you to measure key performance indicators that align with the organization’s security goals.
5. Encourage Contact Between Teams
Cybersecurity leaders must not alienate units or individuals in the team. While everyone reports to you, you must encourage contact between every unit or individual to create DevSecOps and agile teams. This is also critical for remote teams.
6. Ensure the Team Meets Cybersecurity Regulations
All cybersecurity teams must adhere to federal and regulatory laws guarding information and data security. You must ensure the Privacy Officer protects the organization from infringing compliance requirements.
7. Progress Report With Cybersecurity Advisory Group
A cybersecurity advisory group comprised of senior executives should also be in place to advise the CISO on the organization's risk tolerance. This group will also help in ensuring critical cybersecurity program objectives are met.
8. Have a Continuous Policy Improvement Cycle
To manage a cybersecurity team effectively, leaders must set a continuous improvement cycle. Building a cybersecurity team isn’t enough; the team and the policies that guide it must constantly adjust and improve to meet the organization's needs over time.
The following continuous improvement principles can guide you:
- Plan and Organize: Perform regular risk assessments, develop data security architectures, and get management approval.
- Implement: Develop and implement cybersecurity policies and standards of procedures. For example, access management, change controls, etc. Auditing and monitoring must be implemented for each program. In addition, each program must have its own goals and metrics to track.
- Operate: Ensure the team follows the cybersecurity programs, tasks, and roles. Cybersecurity leaders should perform internal and external audits while managing program service-level agreements.
- Evaluate: To ensure continuous improvement; cyber leaders must review logs and audit results for each program. For instance, you can use a maturity model like COBIT to specify process maturity levels regularly and identify areas for improvement.
Task Management Tools & Software to Help Manage a Cybersecurity Team
Overseeing a cybersecurity team is challenging – even for experienced cybersecurity leaders. As such, there are tools and software that can help manage a cybersecurity team effectively.
These tools are classified into different areas of information security. Here are some of them:
- Network Security Monitoring Tools: These tools help analyze network data and identify network-based threats. Some examples are Nagios, Splunk, Argus, Pof, and OSSEC.
- Firewall Tools: Firewalls are barriers that protect networks from hackers, malware, and other types of attackers. Firewalls can be hardware or software, but they provide increased security between networks and external threats. AlgoSec, RedSeal, FireMon, and Tufin are some of the best firewall security management suites.
- Encryption Tools: Encryption secures data by scrambling text, rendering it unreadable to unauthorized parties. Cyber leaders can use encryption tools like KeePass, TrueCrypt, VeraCrypt, AxCrypt, and NordLocker, among others.
- Penetration Testing Tools: Penetration testing helps cybersecurity teams simulate attacks on a computer or network system to evaluate its security and identify potential vulnerabilities. Examples of pen test tools are Wireshark, Metasploit, Netsparker, and Kali Linux.
- Antivirus Software: This is meant to detect viruses, worms, adware, Trojans, ransomware, and spyware. Examples of antivirus software used for enterprise-level cybersecurity include Bitdefender Antivirus for cloud-based scanning, Norton 360, and McAfee Total Protection.
- Web Vulnerability Scanning Tools: These programs scan web applications for security vulnerabilities such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and path traversal. Nikto, Burp Suite, SQLMap, and Paros Proxy are a few examples of tools.
- Intrusion Detection System (IDS): A network Intrusion Detection System (IDS) monitors computer network and system traffic for suspicious activity and alerts the System Administrator of potential threats. Examples of IDS include SolarWinds, Zeek, Security Onion, Snort, and Kismet.
- Packet Sniffers: This is also called a protocol, network, or packet analyzer. Cybersecurity teams can use these tools to intercept, log, and analyze network data and traffic. Some examples are Windump, Wireshark, and Tcpdump.
Final notes on managing a team
Although managing a cybersecurity team can be challenging, having the right technical and non-technical skills provides the proper foundation. Cybersecurity leaders must set clear goals, use industry-recognized best practices, and streamline processes with tools.
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