Hands-on certifications defining, testing ideal traits of cybersecurity pros: ISACA

Security practitioners can now demonstrate their security breach remediation skills in a hands-on, online test laboratory established by security peak body ISACA as it expands its security training and certification programs to help deal with what board member and past international president Rob Stroud calls a “huge shortfall” in security skills.

The impact of that shortfall had increased over time as an increasingly virulent stream of security events – almost all of which, Stroud told CSO Australia, are due to “some form of social engineering rather than straight-out hacking” – continued to take its toll on corporate victims.

ISACA – which recently appointed two Australians to its board of directors in a nod to the progressive local IT-security industry – has been working hard in recent years to standardise cybersecurity controls and encourage the development of formal cybersecurity skills. Its COBIT governance platform and guides such as a SMB-focused security handbook offer best-practice guidance for security staff, but Stroud says the latest online cyber-labs take the practice to a whole new level.

“The gap we've identified in the market is these trained candidates out there who can actually deal with cyber-security events,” he explained. “So we're going about this in a totally new way, by putting candidates in a cyber 'shooting range'. They have to deal with a cyber event, then effectively identify, recover and close the loopholes on that cyber event so their organisation is protected.”

The training is the latest in a series of steps designed to bring more clarity to the idea of what skills and characteristics a cybersecurity expert should have. This process has seen ISACA formalising a 'career roadmap' that Stroud said is designed to “help cybersecurity experts map where they are in their career, and what they need to do to progress it”.

Continuing efforts to standardise the content of cybersecurity curricula and certifications are providing clarity around a cybersecurity professional's ideal capabilities. This month, ISACA launched its Cybersecurity Nexus (CSX) Practitioner Certification, a vendor-neutral, performance-based accreditation that allows cybersecurity professionals to demonstrate their knowledge in a consistent way.

The CSX program includes five levels of certification inculding the Cybersecurity Fundamentals Certificate, CSX Practitioner and Certified Information Security Manager. Additional CSX Specialist and CSX Expert levels will be finalised soon.

By formalising certification – and including the hands-on lab-based certification – ISACA hopes to help the cybersecurity industry define itself and, in so doing, to clarify its value proposition for companies that are increasingly desperate to get the right staff onboard.

“We're understanding how to do a whole career path in terms of education, certification, intellectual property and support through the membership organisation,” Stroud said, noting that similar efforts will soon be run against other areas of governance and risk management, including auditing and assurance.

“You'll see us do that with each of our areas of business over the next couple of years,” Stroud said. “You really have to live in these environments; if you don't, how do you know what they look like? Cybersecurity is one of those domains where practical experience, plus good skills and processes that you've developed over time, will help you.”

“The plan is to mirror that whole of life, or whole of career, content,” he said. “The nature of attacks, audits and security changes on a regular basis and ISACA needs to be very nimble and agile in the way we transition it. [Lack of skills is] a global problem at the moment, and one that we need to tackle as a global community.”

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Tags CSX SpecialistcybersecurityRob StroudISACAIT-security industryHands-on certificationssecurity breachRob Stroud (ISACA PRESIDENT)

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