The modern office is packed with all manner of gadgets and interconnected technologies; from servers and databases to printers and even the phones the workforce are carrying, just about every piece of modern tech we interact with on a daily basis is hooked up to the internet – and with that comes vulnerabilities. As such the need for effective cyber security measures has never been greater, and to achieve this you need not only the necessary hardware and software, but a capable cyber security team.

This cyber security team does of course need some technical know-how - that is after all their job - but a new survey conducted by Dimensional Research on behalf of Tripwire Inc. has perfectly highlighted the fact that while these technical skills are undeniably essential, the importance of other ‘soft skills’ should not be overlooked.

We recently discussed how soft skills- defined as personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people - are of vital importance to office and facilities managers, but this is in fact true of a great number of different industries; although the exact skills deemed most useful will of course vary depending upon the role in question.

The survey of 315 IT security professionals at companies with over 100 employees revealed that while 100% of respondents agree that soft skills are important when hiring for their security teams, some are indeed valued above others. Amongst cyber security professionals the most essential of these soft skills include; “analytical thinking”, as cited by 65% of respondents; “effective communication skills”, cited by 60%; and “good troubleshooting abilities”, deemed crucial by 59%. “Strong integrity and ethical behaviour” and “the ability to work under pressure” follow closely behind in a tie for fourth, each being mentioned by 58% of respondents.

“The cybersecurity industry should not overlook the soft skills that are needed to build a strong security program,” said Tim Erlin, Vice President of product management and strategy at Tripwire. “The reality is that today’s security pros need to go beyond technical expertise. Security practitioners need to be good communicators who can connect cybersecurity issues to business priorities, rally the rest of the organization to get involved, solve tough problems and handle sensitive issues with integrity.”

The survey also revealed that as many as 72% of respondents feel that this need for soft skills has increased over the past two years, and it is only looking likely to rise further with 17% expecting to hire individuals without security-specific expertise over the next two years. 21% went so far as to state that in their belief, soft skills are actually more important than technical skills when it comes to hiring staff.

As a result, 98% of respondents believe that non-security functions need to pitch in with the cyber security effort. Breaking it down to individual departments, 74% said that IT operations need more involvement, 60% said the same of risk management, and 53% said compliance. Also mentioned were legal (45%), HR (32%), and marketing (11%).

 “With security-related regulations like GDPR on the rise, it’s unsurprising that respondents expect their legal and compliance teams to get more involved in cybersecurity. It’s become increasingly apparent that security is a shared responsibility, even for those without any technical cybersecurity experience. Employees from other functions can partner with their security teams to help them look at issues from different perspectives, help further the broader organization’s understanding of cybersecurity, and help enforce best security practices across the organization,” concluded Tim Erlin.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor as he continues to expand his horizons.
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