Security needs to be a top priority for any IT team at the current time. Regulations such as the European Union's GDPR have greatly increased the financial penalties, while - as the recent revelations about the misuse of personal Facebook data show - the reputational damage that businesses can experience if they fail to protect their customers' data can also be huge.
But with such a wide range of threats out there - and criminals constantly looking to evolve their tactics in order to evade detection and breach defenses - your IT team also needs expertise in a variety of different fields in order to minimize the risks faced by your organization.
However, with demand for security skills still significantly outstripping the supply of talent, it pays to train your existing employees to give them the tools they need. According to Capgemini, while seven out of ten companies are in need of cyber security skills, just 43 percent have the talent they need within their organization.
So if you are looking to upskill your IT team, what areas should you be focusing on? Here are five key security skills that no IT department should be without.
1. Network security
A lot of data security efforts still focus on external threats and securing the network perimeter, but these are far from the only risks businesses face today. Internal threats, whether these be accidental - such as someone carelessly losing data or compromising a password - or malicious, can be equally damaging and much harder to detect if firms don't have the right defenses in place.
Therefore, network security skills will be essential in implementing safeguards such as access control policies and monitoring tools to spot unusual activity. Being able to keep a close eye on the internal working of your network goes a long way to keeping businesses safe.
2. Big data analysis
The amount of data generated by today's IT systems can appear overwhelming, and will need strong use of big data analytics solutions to handle, as the volume will be far beyond that which can be managed manually. While such analytics have a wide range of uses, they can be particularly valuable when it comes to spotting potential threats.
For instance, big data analytics are well-suited for identifying advanced persistent threats, which are often among the most serious dangers, as they aim to steal valuable business data. Unusual activity is often hidden within mountains of other data that would take huge amounts of time to analyze via traditional methods.
3. Software management
Keeping key software systems regularly patched to address any newly-discovered vulnerabilities is another vital aspect of every security strategy, yet its one that's often overlooked. For instance, a study by Synopsys found almost half of third-party software components are more than four years old, and almost all of these had newer versions available.
Having someone on the team with the expertise to keep on top of this is therefore essential, especially in companies that are still heavily reliant on their own on-premises tools rather than cloud-based Software-as-a-Service offerings, which are typically patched by the provider as part of the service agreement.
4. Risk management
Knowing how to respond if a security event does occur is also an often-overlooked part of a security plan, particularly if businesses are putting their faith in their initial defenses and assuming they can stop a breach before it happens. However, in the real-world, even the best-prepared businesses cannot ensure 100 percent safety against every threat, which is why risk management skills are so important.
As well as prevention, a good risk management strategy needs to detail how to respond to a successful attack, and what to do in the aftermath in terms of rebuilding customer trust and strengthening systems.
5. Non-technical skills
The technical skills necessary to build, maintain and manage security defenses aren't the only factors IT teams need to take into account. Businesses also shouldn't overlook the non-technical, 'softer' skills that help ensure a security strategy is successful. Talents such as communication, collaboration and teamwork are essential in ensuring the security team works effectively and is able to actually implement the plans that have been previously drawn up in the event of a breach.