Cybersecurity professionals seem to always be in the mode of learning. For me, this involves a lot of online training. With all that’s available, it is easy to become immersed in a topic. Every so often, during a course, I’ll look back to my early experiences in learning and consider how different things are. Yet many things seem to also remain the same. Learning, and the desire for knowledge in general, is something that, once instilled in you, can drive you forward across your entire lifetime. Have you ever found yourself taking the time to consider not just your current educational engagement but your history with schooling, reflecting upon what works well when it comes to your continued pursuit of knowledge?
Primary School and Cybersecurity
Whilst primary school and cybersecurity may seem like an unlikely pairing, upon some closer examination, we can find intriguing parallels between the two. Both environments involve the need for structure, constant learning, and a focus on safety. There are some intriguing similarities between primary school events and what happens in a Cybersecurity Security Operations Center (SOC).
Foundation and Fundamentals:
The primary school serves as the foundation for a child’s education, teaching fundamental skills and knowledge. Similarly, a SOC operates on a strong foundation of cybersecurity fundamentals. Just as primary school teaches reading, writing, and arithmetic, a SOC relies on the basics of network security, incident response, and threat intelligence. Building and reinforcing these fundamentals are essential for the success of both primary school students and SOC professionals.
There is no point rushing ahead with children, and the same is true with new team members – processes need to be instilled, and big, novel topics need to be addressed. How you do this can make a massive difference, but there’s no single way that will work for everyone, and accounting for that should ensure that your team is diverse and flexible.
Continuous Learning and Adaptation:
Primary school is a constant learning environment where students acquire new knowledge and adapt to evolving educational challenges. Likewise, a SOC operates in a dynamic landscape where new cyber threats emerge regularly. SOC professionals must embrace a mindset of continuous learning, staying up-to-date with the latest threats, attack techniques, and defensive strategies. Just as primary school students adapt to new subjects, SOC teams adapt to new cyber threats, ensuring their defences remain effective.
Collaboration, Teamwork, and Making Sure Everyone and Everything is Taking Part:
Primary school encourages collaboration and teamwork among students, fostering social skills and collective problem-solving. Similarly, a SOC relies on the power of collaboration among its members. Cybersecurity analysts need to work together, sharing insights, expertise, and threat intelligence to effectively detect, analyse, and respond to security incidents. Collaborative tools, knowledge-sharing platforms, and a supportive team environment are key to a SOC’s success, just as they are in a primary school classroom.
Whilst the classic idea of “one troublemaker” disrupting the entire class isn’t so much of a risk in your SOC, consider what one “troublemaker tool” can cause – maybe it’s too noisy, distracting you from key work, or maybe it’s not engaging with your other tools and sitting quietly on its own. Just as teachers have to find ways to help these students, so to do the SOC teams with a need to carefully nurture and play to the strength of their tools to make sure the whole class can be successful together.
Vigilance and Safety:
Primary school prioritizes the safety and well-being of students. Similarly, a SOC operates with the mission of protecting an organization’s digital assets and data. Just as teachers keep a watchful eye on students to ensure their safety, SOC professionals maintain constant vigilance over networks, systems, and endpoints, actively looking for signs of malicious activity. Both primary schools and SOCs have a strong focus on safety and security.
Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking:
Primary school fosters problem-solving skills and critical thinking abilities in students. In a SOC, these skills are paramount. Cybersecurity analysts must be able to think critically, analyse complex security incidents, and develop effective solutions. Just as primary school students learn to tackle puzzles and overcome challenges, SOC professionals employ their problem-solving and critical thinking abilities to detect, mitigate, and respond to cyber threats.
While the connection between primary school and a SOC may not be immediately apparent, the underlying principles serve as important touchpoints. By recognizing and leveraging these connections, organizations can promote a culture of learning, collaboration, and security awareness within their SOC teams, ultimately leading to more resilient and effective defences against cyber threats. So, let’s take inspiration from our educational foundations and apply their valuable lessons to operations in a SOC, creating a safer digital environment for organizations and their stakeholders.