Cyber professionals often lack the full knowledge of the threat landscape because of their own fears, lack of perspective, and hubris. As a result of these blind spots, poor decision-making and more risk become a problem. This internal misalignment and struggle put your cybersecurity strategy and resilience in jeopardy.
The problem isn’t usually that they don’t have robust technical skills and aptitude regarding threats. It’s much more than that. To ensure your team understands the threat landscape, they must be more aware. Achieving this requires a commitment to change and adapt, which may seem like a goal that’s impossible to reach. However, there are ways to develop soft skills in cyber professionals with the Secure Methodology™.
In this post, we’ll discuss the current state of threat landscapes, the challenges that cyber teams face, and how the Secure Methodology can help evolve technical folks.
The State of Threat Landscapes
The threat landscape describes the complete ecosystem of cyber threats, both potential and known, for an organization. It’s a volatile, ever-changing environment, which means those in charge of cybersecurity must be adaptable and agile. There’s a lot of uncertainty, which can be difficult for technical professionals who crave the certain. This clash of mindsets is a hurdle you must overcome to succeed.
Additionally, some major trends are shifting and changing the threat landscape.
Cybercrime-as-a-Service Expands the Threat Landscape
A big trend in cybersecurity is the cybercrime marketplace, where hacking is now a managed service. Because of this trend, cybercriminals no longer have to be technical experts. It’s now a billion-dollar business, and the barrier to entry for hacking just got lower.
The threat landscape is now much greater, with hackers for hire that can lead to malware attacks, ransomware, more phishing emails, and cyber extortion schemes.
You may be surprised to know that cybercrime-as-a-service is very sophisticated. It delivers templates that are usable for content encryption, inspection blocking, and hidden URLs in attachments. So, the threats aren’t different; they are just more voluminous.
Cybercrime-as-a-service is a challenging concept to combat, and it requires technical people to look beyond the black-and-white of the cyber war. To defend against the increasing number of attacks, cyber professionals have to communicate with many parties effectively, understand the hacker perspective, adapt their mindsets, and be better collaborators.
AI Complicates the Threat Landscape
There is a good and bad side to AI in cybersecurity. It can be a valuable tool in identifying threats and responding to them. It enables automation around monitoring to augment human intelligence. Its capabilities as a mechanism to thwart attacks include:
- Detecting fraud and anomalies
- Filtering spam emails to reduce phishing attacks ending up in inboxes
- Identifying botnets
- Managing vulnerabilities
- Allowing for better usage of anti-malware
- Preventing data leaks
- Boosting data automation and intelligence gathering
There’s also the downside, as hackers can apply the technology to expand the threat landscape. They can use it to gather data to better profile victims for social engineering. It’s also a means to launch ransomware attacks, which are becoming increasingly prolific. In fact, 89% of organizations relayed they were a target of ransomware in 2022. Hackers can use it to develop realistic phishing scams, create deep fakes for voice phishing, hide malware, and break passwords and CAPTCHAs.
Understanding the two sides of AI’s capabilities is critical for your cyber team to understand the entire threat landscape and what’s possible. Again, it will require some mindset shifts for them to include innovations in cyberattacks.
Identity Risk Becomes Even More Urgent
According to the 2023 Identity Security Threat Landscape Report, credential compromise was the top area of risk for respondents. Several factors are influencing this risk growth. Access for employees can have loopholes and not be adequately secured, something 63% of organizations said was the case.
Strategies to combat this beyond the foundational aspects of IAM (identity and access management) involve moving to a zero trust architecture. It’s the strategic approach of mitigating identity risk by eliminating implicit trust and transitioning to continuous validation. Applying this framework to this risk area will be a change for cyber professionals, but it gets them back to the core questions of: what are you trying to protect, and from whom? It simplifies a complicated landscape and can assist technical folks in evolving their perspectives and mindsets.
Next, let’s look at more challenges your cyber team may face regarding awareness of the threat landscape.
Why Are Technical Folks Blind to Many Areas of Threat?
As noted earlier, the blind spots often have little to do with technological knowledge. However, it can still be a problem. It’s a consequence of the paper tiger syndrome in cybersecurity. Paper tigers are people who appear very qualified on paper with lists of certifications. In reality, they don’t often have strong skill sets and are really just good at memorizing information for a multiple-choice quiz.
Most of the disconnect has to do with failings in soft skills. While many technical folks do a great job in communicating and collaborating, it’s also a gap for many. Here’s why it’s a problem:
- Cyber professionals tend to think in black and white. Yet, most everything is gray. They have a fixed mindset that there is one correct answer and approach to threats without opening their minds to the changing landscape. It causes them to lose perspective on how hackers are planning attacks. It goes back to the idea of technical people being most comfortable with certainty, and they’ll need to shift to accepting the uncertainty.
- Cyber professionals can have fears and insecurities about their abilities and don’t want that to be apparent to anyone. They have a misconception in their thinking that not knowing the answer is a sign of weakness. Except, the threat landscape is something no one could possibly know every corner of. To avoid this discomfort, they’ll posture in how they speak and be unable to listen to others.
- Communication can be difficult for your team. They rely a lot on jargon and geek speak, which is alienating and condescending. Communication is the most critical skill your team needs, and its ongoing development is crucial to better understanding the threat landscape.
- Communication isn’t easy for them, especially if they posture and use jargon. When they do, they alienate others quickly and live up to their reputation. Communication is the single most crucial skill a cyber professional can possess.
- Technical people also often lack awareness of themselves and others. Many don’t even realize this, and it clouds their perspective regarding where threats are and how they’re changing. They may also be unable to comprehend the business side of things and how the threat landscape correlates to this. They believe themselves to be outsiders when they need to be collaborators.
All these things make it a challenging journey for cyber leaders and managing the threat landscape. You can find some support for developing the people skills of your team with the Secure Methodology.
Using the Secure Methodology to Address Threat Landscape Gaps
For your team to be in the best position to defend against threats, they need to work on their people skills. The Secure Methodology is a seven-step process for doing this. Here’s a preview of each step and how it can help address threat landscape gaps:
- Awareness: Being aware of themselves and others is the first phase of the framework. It’s about opening them up to new perspectives — those of their peers, the business, and even hackers. Coaching and understanding motivations are key to turning the light on in technical folks.
- Mindset: From awareness, you move to mindset. The idea is to move from a fixed one to a growth one. Cyber professionals have to free themselves from black-and-white thinking and embrace the gray. Reflection and accountability are essential in this step.
- Acknowledgment: In this step, you play a big role. Being able to acknowledge team members for their efforts and work creates a more positive culture instead of one of blame. Positive reinforcement builds trust and rapport, which your team needs to be effective against threats.
- Communication: Having these skills is essential in every part of a cyber professional’s job. When it’s absent or poor, risk and threats increase. Developing communication aptitude involves simplifying language, losing the geek speak, and learning how to listen.
- Monotasking: Most people think multitasking is the key to productivity. It’s actually a concept that can lead to errors and mistakes. Encouraging your team to focus on one task at a time blocks out distractions and allows them to think deeper about threats.
- Empathy: In this step, you want to help people be able to put themselves in the shoes of others. It builds on what they learn in awareness, mindset, and communication. A technical professional who has empathy translates to an excellent collaborator.
- Kaizen: This is a Japanese term that translates to “continuous improvement.” By using this approach, you align with cybersecurity fundamentals to constantly improve defenses and strategies. It’s a continuous state of evolving and adapting, just like the threat landscape.
With these seven steps, you can build a team that’s more in tune with the threats of today and tomorrow. Learn more about how to apply it to your organization by checking out the Secure Methodology course.