Interviews, Security, Technology

SANS INSTITUTE: Ensuring a Proactive Approach to Cybersecurity Skills Training

Anita Joseph caught up with Ned Baltagi, Managing Director META at SANS Institute, to learn how companies can effectively implement and maintain a defence in-depth strategy in the context of escalating cyberattacks, and how skills and knowledge come in handy.

In the context of a defense-in-depth strategy, what are the key advantages of this approach for companies, and how can they effectively implement and maintain this approach in their cybersecurity framework?

The defence-in-depth strategy offers multiple layers of security controls and measures across the various components of a company’s information systems. This approach is advantageous because it provides redundancy in the event of a control failure and encompasses a comprehensive range of protective measures to address different vectors of attack. It not only helps in preventing security breaches but also minimizes the impact of a breach should one occur.

Companies can effectively implement and maintain a defence-in-depth strategy by first conducting thorough risk assessments to identify critical assets and vulnerabilities. Following this, they should adopt a layered security approach that includes physical security, network security, application security, and data security measures. Regularly updating and testing security controls, alongside continuous monitoring for threats, are crucial for maintenance. Employee training and incident response plans are key components of a robust defense-in-depth strategy.

Human error is often cited as a significant cybersecurity risk. How can companies address and reduce the risk of human error through education, awareness, and upskilling of their employees, and what role does a proactive response play in mitigating such errors?

Human error is a significant risk factor in cybersecurity. Companies can address this by implementing comprehensive cybersecurity awareness programs that educate employees on the importance of security practices and the common tactics used by adversaries. Regular training sessions, phishing simulations, and the promotion of a security-conscious culture are effective ways to reduce the likelihood of human error.

 A proactive response plays a critical role in mitigating errors by quickly identifying and correcting them before they can be exploited by attackers. This includes having mechanisms in place to detect potential security incidents, conducting regular audits and assessments, and fostering an environment where employees feel comfortable reporting mistakes without fear of retribution.

Considering the multifaceted nature of cybersecurity, how can organizations ensure that they are not solely focused on technical issues but also actively addressing the human element? What strategies can be employed to balance technical solutions with human skills and awareness?

Organizations can ensure a balanced focus on both technical issues and the human element by implementing a holistic cybersecurity strategy that includes technical defenses alongside human-centered approaches like regular training and awareness programs. Engaging employees in security practices and fostering a culture of security are essential. Strategies such as gamification of training, personalized learning paths, and promoting security as a shared responsibility can enhance engagement and awareness.

Looking ahead to 2024, do you anticipate the cyber skills gap to continue growing, and what implications might this have for organizations? Additionally, how can ongoing education and training, such as SANS’ 2024 courses and events, contribute to shrinking the cyber skills gap?

The cyber skills gap is likely to continue growing into 2024, driven by the rapid evolution of technology and increasing sophistication of cyber threats. This gap presents significant implications for organizations, including increased vulnerability to cyber-attacks and challenges in protecting critical information assets.

Ongoing education and training, such as the courses and events offered by SANS in 2024, are crucial for addressing the cyber skills gap.

FOR508: Advanced Incident Response, Threat Hunting, and Digital Forensics offers an in-depth exploration of advanced threat hunting and forensic analysis, teaching participants to effectively detect, contain, and remediate cyber threats through a well-defined incident response plan. Leadership and governance in cybersecurity, critical for narrowing the skills gap, are emphasized in courses like LDR514: Security Strategic Planning, Policy, and Leadership, focusing on strategic planning, policy formation, and legal aspects. For securing critical infrastructure, ICS410: ICS/SCADA Security Essentials is designed to ensure that the workforce involved in supporting and defending industrial control systems is trained to keep the operational environment safe, secure, and resilient against current and emerging cyber threats. SEC497: Practical Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) is a top choice for mastering safe and effective open-source intelligence research.

Additionally, considering the unprecedented integration of GenAI in the workplace, our recently launched online course, AIS247: AI Security Essentials for Business Leaders, is tailored to empower leaders with the knowledge and tools to navigate the complexities of AI in the business world. AIS247 also addresses the critical aspect of AI policy development, equipping participants with the skills needed to craft and implement effective AI strategies to manage its risks and opportunities within their organizations.

These programs provide current and aspiring cybersecurity professionals with the skills and knowledge needed to tackle emerging threats. By investing in education and training, organizations can build a more skilled workforce capable of defending against sophisticated cyber-attacks.

In the realm of cybersecurity, what steps should companies take to prepare for the evolving threat landscape, specifically in terms of upskilling and training their workforce? How can a proactive approach to education and technical training contribute to a more resilient defense against emerging cyber threats?

Companies should take proactive steps to continuously upskill and train their workforce to prepare for the evolving threat landscape. This includes offering regular training sessions, workshops, and certifications that cover the latest cybersecurity trends, technologies, and best practices.

A proactive approach to education and technical training is essential for developing a resilient defense against emerging cyber threats. This approach should involve equipping employees with the necessary technical skills and fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptability. By staying ahead of the latest cybersecurity developments, companies can better anticipate and mitigate potential threats.

A multi-faceted approach encompassing defence-in-depth strategies, addressing human error through education, balancing technical and human elements, preparing for the cyber skills gap, and adopting proactive education and training initiatives is essential for enhancing cybersecurity resilience. As the cybersecurity landscape continues to evolve, organizations must prioritize these aspects to safeguard their digital assets effectively.

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