Want to Help Your Team Learn Cybersecurity? Start Here!
Cyberattacks are perhaps the biggest threat to businesses today — and many organizations are struggling to fend off the danger. In one 2020 survey, 86 percent of participating companies said their networks had been breached at least once in the past year. Each of those breaches can cost an average of $4.24 million, according to IBM's Cost of a Data Breach 2021 Report.
To mitigate the risk of cyberattacks and data breaches, companies need skilled cybersecurity teams capable of planning and executing robust strategies. But how do you build a cybersecurity team?
Whether you're starting from scratch or looking to level up your existing team, this article will cover the key points you need to know, including:
- What is cybersecurity?
- How to learn cybersecurity
- Cybersecurity skills, certifications, and training
- Where to learn cybersecurity
Let's dive in.
Introduction to Cybersecurity
What is cybersecurity? It's a broad term, but at the core, "cybersecurity" refers to a subdiscipline of the information technology (IT) field dedicated to protecting computer systems from unauthorized access, use, or manipulation. The safety of everything from individual devices and the data stored on them to networks, websites, applications, and cloud services falls under cybersecurity's purview.
Perhaps the best way to learn cybersecurity is to look at the many specializations within cyber security. These overlapping practice areas encompass all the responsibilities, goals, methods, and technologies that cybersecurity professionals work with.
- Architecture and Policy: This realm of cybersecurity designs and implements the overarching technology architectures (including hardware and software) and cyber security policies that keep corporate computer systems safe.
- Data Loss Prevention: This specialization focuses on the information security component of cyber-security. Data loss prevention specialists protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability (called the "CIA triad") of sensitive data.
- Governance, Risk, and Compliance: This specialization acts as a security auditor, evaluating existing security practices and technologies to ensure they are up to snuff. Specialists in this field are also responsible for performing risk analyses and developing business continuity and disaster recovery plans.
- Identity and Access Management: Identity and access management (IAM) specialists manage system credentials, authorization mechanisms, and permissions to ensure only the right people with the proper privileges can access important computer systems and resources.
- Incident Response and Forensic Analysis: Specialists in this realm hunt for threats, detect attacks in progress, and thwart ongoing breaches. They are also responsible for post-incident investigations that determine what happened, how it happened, and how to prevent it from happening again.
- Penetration Testing: Penetration testers specialize in ethical hacking. They carry out mock attacks, called "penetration tests," to identify vulnerabilities in computer systems so they can be patched before malicious hackers exploit them.
- Secure DevOps: Also called "DevSecOps," this field specializes in the hands-on implementation and management of security technologies like firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPSs), and other key hardware and software defense systems.
- Secure Software Development: Specialists in this domain are responsible for application security. They ensure that any software developed in-house, whether shared externally or used internally, is secure and free of vulnerabilities.
Any effective cybersecurity team will need to cover most, if not all, of these specializations. Some companies build teams of cybersecurity generalists who share responsibilities across domains, while other organizations create a team of experts for each subdiscipline. The approach your company takes should be informed by multiple factors, including the cybersecurity risks you face, the size of your company, and your budget.
Read next: 8 Specializations That Define Successful Cybersecurity Organizations.
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How to Build a Cybersecurity Team
If you need to build a brand-new cybersecurity team or add some additional firepower to your current team, your first instinct may be to hire externally. But sourcing cybersecurity experts is no easy feat in this talent market. According to the 2021 (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, the global cybersecurity workforce is about 65% smaller than it needs to be to fill all the open cybersecurity roles around the world. Skillsoft’s IT Skills and Salary Report shows IT decision-makers rank cybersecurity as the toughest discipline to hire for.
Because cybersecurity professionals are in such high demand and short supply, the best bet for many companies is to train existing employees to take on cybersecurity roles. It's easier than ever to learn about cybersecurity online, with reputable virtual training platforms offering comprehensive cybersecurity courses covering the specializations mentioned above.
Investing in cybersecurity education allows you to sidestep the talent shortage, and it also helps your team stay on the cutting edge. Cybersecurity is an ever-evolving field, and the skills it calls for today may be obsolete in the blink of an eye. By focusing on training instead of hiring, you can connect your employees with continuous education that helps them stay up to date on the latest cybersecurity threats, technologies, and best practices.
It's a good idea to open cybersecurity training to all of your employees, even if they don't intend to join the team. They don't all need to be experts, but anyone who touches the company's computer systems — which includes most employees today — should know the basics to keep themselves and the company safe.
Interested in where to learn cyber security online? Check out our cyber security course catalog.
What Do You Learn in Cybersecurity Training?
If you decide to build in-house cybersecurity expertise through training, it's important to ensure you offer employees the right training. The career paths your employees want to explore and the roles you need to fill will inform the best way for your employees to learn.
Cybersecurity Career Paths
Each cybersecurity specialization requires a slightly different skill set and body of knowledge. Your employees want to know how to learn cybersecurity, and it's essential to connect them with the right training for their desired career paths.
Here's an overview of the different kinds of roles available in cybersecurity, as well as the training they require:
- Architecture and Policy
- Common job titles: Security architect, security manager, network engineer
- Required cybersecurity courses: Employees pursuing a path in cybersecurity architecture and policy will need to learn secure design principles, security policy, and popular frameworks like the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. They'll also need thorough knowledge of IT fundamentals like network engineering and system administration.
- Data Loss Prevention
- Common job titles: Information systems security officer, cybersecurity manager, information systems manager
- Required cybersecurity courses: This field requires expertise in information security principles, application security principles, and network security principles. Employees should also learn about common malware threats like ransomware, attack vectors like phishing, and other causes of data breaches.
- Governance, Risk, and Compliance
- Common job titles: Security auditor, IT auditor, security awareness officer
- Required cybersecurity courses: Aside from understanding relevant regulations and compliance requirements, employees in this field need to master risk analysis and risk management, business continuity and disaster recovery, and IT system auditing.
- Identity and Access Management
- Common job titles: Systems administrator, network administrator, security specialist
- Required cybersecurity courses: Employees should take classes on network security, with a particular focus on authentication technologies and best practices like multi-factor authentication, zero trust architecture, and the principle of least privilege.
- Incident Response and Forensic Analysis
- Common job titles: Security analyst, incident and intrusion analyst, digital forensic analyst
- Required cybersecurity courses: Employees following this path will need comprehensive education on security operations (SecOps), including relevant technology tools like security incident and event management (SIEM) systems and security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) systems. They'll also need thorough training on the incident response life cycle, threat hunting, and digital forensics.
- Penetration Testing
- Common job titles: Penetration tester, security consultant, network relations consultant
- Required cybersecurity courses: Employees entering this field would benefit from learning the ins and outs of ethical hacking, as well as the practical side of penetration testing and vulnerability assessment. They should also stay updated on the latest developments in malware and cybercrime.
- Secure DevOps
- Common job titles: DevSecOps engineer, DevOps engineer
- Required cybersecurity courses: Employees entering this specialization will need to get up to speed on the best practices, tools, methodologies, and mindsets that define DevOps and DevSecOps.
- Secure Software Development
- Common job titles: Code auditor, vulnerability researcher, software developer
- Required cybersecurity courses: Employees focusing on this specialization should master the secure software development life cycle (SSDLC), which combines software development with best practices in application security, cloud security, authentication, and related security concepts.
- Software Engineering, Security, and Vulnerabilities
- Wintellect Application Security
Find out more about how to learn cyber security online. Explore our information security course catalog.
Cybersecurity Technical Skills
While different cybersecurity career paths will require unique training programs, cybersecurity professionals also need broader sets of technical and soft skills to excel in their careers. Some skill sets may be more relevant to some roles than others, but employees who want to learn cybersecurity will need at least a basic knowledge of the following domains:
- Understanding the threat landscape: Cybersecurity professionals must stay up to date on the shifting threat landscape, including common malware and cyberattacks like ransomware, trojans, social engineering, phishing, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, and other cyberthreats.
- Understanding security technology: Cybersecurity professionals must be able to work with a wide range of security-focused technology tools and techniques, including cryptography, firewalls, antivirus software, SIEMs, SOARs, endpoint detection and response (EDR) platforms, secure web gateways, IDPSs, and much more.
- Incident response: Cybersecurity teams must be able to monitor networks, detect potential attacks and breaches, and respond effectively to different types of malicious activity. They must also conduct post-incident activities like security audits and digital forensic investigations.
- Information security: Cybersecurity professionals should know how to protect sensitive information from internal and external unauthorized users.
- Security policies and procedures: Cybersecurity professionals should understand how to draft, implement, and communicate standardized security policies and procedures that all employees can follow.
- Network security: Cybersecurity professionals must know how to assess, secure, and maintain every component of the corporate network, from individual devices and applications to the connections between hardware and software assets.
- Software development: Cybersecurity professionals should be able to develop and/or audit secure software code.
- Risk management: Cybersecurity professionals must be able to identify potential risks and vulnerabilities and select and implement the appropriate security controls.
- Compliance: Cybersecurity teams must be aware of the relevant government laws and industry regulations their organizations must follow.
Learn how a carefully considered compliance program may protect your organization from data breaches.
Cybersecurity Soft Skills
Cybersecurity professionals in all specialties can also benefit from cultivating the following soft skills:
- Critical thinking: Cybersecurity professionals need to carefully analyze complex computer systems, evaluate risk, and anticipate the moves of cybercriminals.
- Problem-solving: Addressing vulnerabilities and thwarting cyberattacks often requires new and creative approaches to overcoming challenges.
- Communication: Cybersecurity professionals must often deliver important security messages to non-technical employees in accessible and engaging ways.
- Collaboration: Cybersecurity is a team sport, with many different people and departments working together to prevent and remediate attacks and data breaches.
- Attention to detail: To identify risks, detect attacks, and stop hackers, cybersecurity teams must pay close attention to subtle hints in computer system activity and architecture.
Read next: How to Plan a Career Path in Cybersecurity.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Cybersecurity?
The length of time it takes for an employee to learn enough to start a cybersecurity career depends on where they're starting from. Thanks to the wealth of courses online, it's possible for employees with a limited technology background to learn cybersecurity. However, they will likely have to undergo a more comprehensive and structured course of study. For these employees, it may make the most sense to first learn technology basics and then move into a technology-oriented role, where they can continue studying cybersecurity while gaining hands-on IT experience.
On the other hand, employees who already know technology fundamentals or hold technology-focused roles may only need to take a couple of specialized classes or earn a new certification before stepping into a cybersecurity job.
Similarly, employees with experience in compliance-oriented roles like finance, risk analysis, or legal functions may have an easier time learning cybersecurity specializations that focus on auditing, compliance, and policy.
Ready to learn cybersecurity online? Visit our cyber security course catalog.
What Cybersecurity Certifications Should My Team Have?
Cybersecurity certifications offer people a way to learn new skills and prove their expertise. Obtaining a certification usually requires passing a test and/or amassing a certain amount of real-world experience. Certification exam preparation courses are available for most certifications as well. While they aren't strictly required, they can help sharpen key cybersecurity skills while boosting employees' chances of earning certification.
For intermediate level members of your cybersecurity team, you might encourage them to obtain certifications like:
- CompTIA Security+: This international certification focuses on foundational cyber security skills and knowledge like network security, application security, cryptography, access control and identity management, and more.
- CEH – Certified Ethical Hacker: Especially useful for people pursuing a path in penetration testing, incident response, and compliance, the CEH certification helps employees master the art of finding weaknesses and vulnerabilities in computer systems.
- CRISC – Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control: The CRISC certification focuses on identifying and evaluating IT risk, as well as designing and maintaining appropriate information systems controls to mitigate risk.
More advanced cybersecurity practitioners and leaders may have earned these certifications already or mastered the associated competencies. When recruiting more senior cybersecurity professionals, the following advanced certifications are a good signal of their expertise:
- CISSP – Certified Information Systems Security Professional: Offered by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC)2, CISSP certification covers key security domains like asset security, security architecture and engineering, and security operations.
- CISM – Certified Information Security Manager: Ideal for employees who want to move into security management and leadership positions, CISM certification focuses on information security in the context of broader business goals and objectives.
- CompTIA CASP+: Requiring 10 years of IT administration experience and at least five years of hands-on technical security experience, the CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+) certification is intended for experienced cybersecurity professionals who want to be practitioners rather than managers. It focuses on competencies in risk management, enterprise security operations and architecture, research and collaboration, and integration of enterprise security.
The certifications outlined above are all vendor-neutral, meaning the competencies they validate apply to all cybersecurity teams regardless of the tools they're using. However, cybersecurity professionals may also choose to pursue certifications in technologies from specific vendors. Those certifications include Cisco CCNP Security, Check Point CCSA, Paolo Alto PCNSA, SonicWall SNSA, and many others. Whether or not your team needs those certifications will depend on whether you use those systems.
Want to earn a cyber security certification online? See our cyber security certification training course catalog.
Ready to Learn Cybersecurity? Start Here
As technology evolves and cybercriminals adopt new methods, the threat of cyberattacks and data breaches will only increase. A robust cybersecurity team is vital to defending your company against these risks and ensuring your organization's continued success.
Facing talent shortages, many organizations struggle to find all the cybersecurity experts they need. However, virtual training options have removed many of the barriers to cybersecurity education, making it possible for your employees to learn cybersecurity online. A training-focused approach can be the most efficient and cost-effective way to staff your cybersecurity department.
Connect your employees with comprehensive cyber security training. View our cyber security course catalog.