The Ultimate Guide to Distributing Security Skills Across Your Business
Published: 09/11/2022

The Ultimate Guide to Distributing Security Skills Across Your Business

  • Netacea, Agentless Bot Management

11 minutes read

As cyberattacks become more prolific, the spotlight is on the cybersecurity skills shortage impacting businesses around the world. Cybersecurity staff are leaving the industry in droves, due to high stress levels and unrealistic expectations about cyberattack prevention.

As a result, the cybersecurity strategy in many businesses must shift. Security should no longer fall just within the remit of select team members. Instead, everyone in the business must be responsible for keeping systems secure.

For many organizations, this will involve creating a whole new culture of cybersecurity. Changing mindsets and embedding new skills doesn’t happen overnight, and it requires sustained conscious effort from CISOs and business leaders. A UK government report found that only 58% of cybersecurity leads believe senior managers in their business know how to manage a cybersecurity incident. Three in ten believe managers don’t know which security risks are facing their organization.

Three in ten believe managers don’t know which security risks are facing their organization

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Distributing security skills throughout your workforce starts with your leadership team. By delegating decision-making and cybersecurity responsibilities to managers, you can relieve the pressure on your CISO and ensure your business is protected from the ground up. In this article, you’ll learn:

  • why cybersecurity skills distribution is necessary for business continuity
  • how to distribute security skills across your organization
  • why continuous upskilling is essential for business security.

Why is cybersecurity skills distribution necessary?

Basic security awareness and accountability among staff reduces the risk of a successful cyberattack. Vigilant staff can stop attackers from gaining access to your systems in the first place, while improved knowledge enables them to act quickly to mitigate the impact of an attack.

Strong cybersecurity helps you avoid regulatory penalties and maintain customer trust. But it can also help your business thrive. More organizations want to work with businesses that have strong cybersecurity skills, so improving staff security awareness can also be an effective sales tool.

Security skills distribution also minimizes burnout and stress for your cybersecurity team. These are key staff turnover triggers, so reducing stress will help you retain staff and prevent business disruption.

Who should be involved in cybersecurity skills distribution?

Your CISO will probably lead this project, but it requires input from people across the organization. The security team can offer insight when it comes to defining roles and help with troubleshooting and staff support.

HR may also need to be consulted with regards to updating job descriptions and arranging training if you don’t have an in-house learning and development team. If you do, your L&D team will also be major contributors to this project.

You’ll also need the support of leaders and managers across the business, so consider them your stakeholders from an early stage.

Preparing to distribute security skills across your organization

The changing CISO role

Chief information security officers (CISOs) are responsible for your business’s overarching security strategy. But too often they’re expected to deal with every vulnerability or security-related issue that crops up, no matter how small.

Involving all staff in cybersecurity stops these niggling issues from falling into the CISO’s remit. Instead, the CISO can take a consultative approach, helping managers and other employees know how to tackle common security issues, so they can use their initiative next time a similar situation arises.

The CISO should still set and update company policies around cybersecurity. But it will be everyone’s job to make sure these policies are adhered to.

Defining new security roles

It’s not just the CISO who must adapt to a changing role. Other staff will also need to take on new responsibilities. The rest of your security team can support the CISO with policy and consultation, while also providing hands-on assistance where needed.

Business leaders and managers may have the biggest learning curve, especially if cybersecurity hasn’t previously been part of their role. Only 10% of businesses currently acknowledge cybersecurity as part of staff job descriptions, so most organizations will have to find an effective way to introduce cybersecurity as a standard management responsibility.

Simply updating job descriptions isn’t enough. Many managers will need some handholding initially, until they feel comfortable making security-related decisions and taking on other tasks. Your CISO must ensure managers are given adequate training to take on this responsibility with confidence. It’s also important to decide how you’ll assess the security competency of new management hires.

Training across the business is important to upskill in cybersecurity

Implementing cybersecurity knowledge across the workforce

Creating a cybersecurity culture

Creating a culture of cybersecurity will help most staff gain a basic level of security awareness. Understanding the importance of security is at the heart of this. Your staff must know why they’re being asked to take on new responsibilities, and the potential impact of neglecting or ignoring security protocols.

CISOs and other security staff must give staff the opportunity to ask questions to solidify their understanding. They should also check in regularly with each team to provide updates and answer any questions. While managers are now responsible for decision making, ultimately, it's the security team’s responsibility to make sure teams have the skills they need to notice and deal with threats.

Find out how to create a culture of cybersecurity in your organization. If you don’t already have a system for delegating cybersecurity responsibilities across your workforce, you can use existing frameworks like ATT&CK or the NIST Workforce Framework to guide you.

Managing pushback

Introducing new business-wide initiatives is often difficult. People can be resistant to upsetting the status quo, so when you’re introducing new responsibilities for every person in the organization, it’s natural to experience some pushback.

In most businesses, staff members take on cybersecurity responsibilities informally. And while on-the-job learning can help build a skillset, it may also lead to resentment among staff if they don’t feel their contribution is acknowledged. In other instances, people may be reluctant to take on work that they don’t perceive to be part of their role.

Tackling adverse attitudes is difficult. But studies show that attitude to work is linked with productivity and performance, so it’s important to mitigate this potential problem before you roll out your new security strategy.

Demonstrating how this new knowledge will help employees on a personal level may help. Knowing cybersecurity basics can protect their money and identity. It can also give them extra tools in their arsenal for better job performance. For example, accounting teams will be able to spot fraudulent invoices much more easily, while sales and marketing teams may find their cybersecurity knowledge impresses potential new customers.

Training teams on cybersecurity

Making training relatable and interesting

Training is essential when teaching your workforce new skills, but nobody wants to sit through a day of corporate lectures. How you deliver your training is important for helping staff learn effectively.

One study found that the trainer is the most important factor in successful training. Your CISO may have the knowledge, but if they’re inexperienced at delivering engaging training sessions, they may not be the right person for the job. Consider hiring an external trainer if there’s nobody suitable in-house.

Research also shows that up to 50% of knowledge is forgotten within a day of being learned, so cybersecurity training isn’t a one-and-done affair. You’ll need to find a way of delivering information repeatedly without boring your staff or taking up too much of their time. An e-learning platform or external training provider can help with this.

If possible, target your training for specific teams. This will help people retain the information that’s important to them and working in smaller groups may encourage everyone to participate and ask questions, creating a more active learning environment.

Creating a cybersecurity resource hub

While your CISO and security team should act as consultants for other staff across the business, it helps to have a central place where staff can access cybersecurity resources, such as your incident response plan and information security policies, processes, and procedures. Keep your resources clear and concise, with minimal technical language.

Security upskilling is a continuous process

Creating a campaign to introduce security skills across your organization is a big project. It will take time and dedication, so it’s a good idea to set out a roadmap including your objectives and timescales.

Even when you’ve achieved your main objectives, the work isn’t over. New cyber threats and security strategies are always emerging, so there will always be more to learn. Scheduling regular sessions and tracking knowledge gaps is key to keeping on top of ongoing training.

Ultimately, you want to give your staff the confidence to apply their training in the real world without hesitation. Encourage people to ask questions when they’re unsure — informal learning can plug skills gaps as well as formal training. Create a hierarchy of people who can be approached for sound advice without skipping straight to the CISO.

Get cybersecurity certified

Standards like ISO27001 and Cyber Essentials are designed to embed cybersecurity skills and awareness within your organization. To gain and maintain certification, staff members across your business must demonstrate a clear understanding and application of your security practices.

Cybersecurity certification campaigns are often led by an organization’s CISO. They must develop an information security management system (ISMS) to track all security incidents. All staff are expected to know how to report security incidents and log them in the ISMS, so for certification purposes everyone must be able to recognize and report security issues.

Bolster your security skills with security technology

Lack of security awareness among staff is one of the biggest security risks to your business. With a skilled, knowledgeable workforce, you can mitigate the risks of attacks like phishing, whaling, and CEO fraud.

But other attacks happen regardless of your staff’s security vigilance. If you don’t have the right cybersecurity systems in place to protect your online environments, cyber threats can still infiltrate your network and steal data or install malware, so it’s important to bolster your human defenses with the right security systems.

AI-based security systems are now making it much easier to detect security threats. Netacea’s bot management system uses a machine learning engine to accurately detect automated threats to your website, app, and API. When bots are detected, your security team can decide how to deal with them — and our human threat experts can support where needed, too.

10 steps to successfully distribute cybersecurity skills in your business

  1. Define new security roles and responsibilities — decide who will be responsible for making decisions on a day-to-day basis, and when an issue should be escalated to the security team or CISO
  2. Set out a roadmap — a campaign of this scale should be planned and prepared in advance, so set out a schedule for when you hope to achieve specific objectives
  3. Inform your staff — let staff know about the changes you’re planning, and give them a chance to ask questions and raise concerns
  4. Identify management skills gaps — understand the confidence and competence of your management team when it comes to cybersecurity
  5. Create a training plan for managers — use common skills gaps to create a training plan that covers all the required areas
  6. Empower managers to make decisions — ensure managers understand their new responsibilities, and that the security team is available to support them when needed
  7. Identify skills gaps and schedule training for all other staff — repeat steps four and five for the rest of your staff, ideally on a team-by-team basis
  8. Get training feedback — find out how successful your training has been by testing staff knowledge and asking for feedback
  9. Apply for cybersecurity certification — get certified to international standards to solidify your team’s skillset on an ongoing basis
  10. Create your cybersecurity resource hub — make sure all the information staff need is accessible.

Improving the cybersecurity awareness of your workforce is a key step in becoming a more secure business. Learn how else you can improve your security posture.

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