Cybersecurity Skills for Top Performance: Beyond Technical Skills

Protecting digital data requires constant innovation, iteration, vigilance, monitoring, and stakeholder input and feedback. But does it require something more? Obviously, practical and theoretical knowledge of computer science, math, and engineering are necessary to develop cybersecurity systems. Yet, to design systems that produce maximally consistent cybersecurity compliance with minimal backsliding by all involved requires keen social intelligence and a good understanding of human behavior.

In The Future Cybersecurity Workforce: Going Beyond Technical Skills for Successful Cyber Performance (Frontiers in Psychology, June 12, 2018), authors Jessica Dawson and Robert Thomson outline their research into the traits of successful cybersecurity professionals. Starting with a DoD Cybersecurity Workforce Framework, they detected a pattern of technical skill requirements across more than 1,000 types of knowledge, skills, and abilities. However, they were surprised to find that the social traits associated with successful work in this field were rarely mentioned. To discover just what these traits were, they took a deeper dive, which revealed:

Six critical requirements for the cyber workforce of the future

  1. System Thinkers
  2. Team Players
  3. Technical and Social Skills
  4. Civic Duty to Country and Company
  5. Continual Learning
  6. Communication

For effective cybersecurity in our ever-changing technical environment, choosing the right people means choosing the ones with the right qualities. And if you can’t change personnel, you can cultivate the right qualities they need to cope, and even thrive.


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