Simulate before it’s too late

How to proactively tackle the cyber security skills gap
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Greg Day – VP & CSO, EMEA, Palo Alto Networks

by Greg Day – VP & CSO, EMEA, Palo Alto Networks

Addressing cyber threats is only possible by combining innovative technology, skilled security professionals and effective security best practices. The question facing Europe’s cyber security professionals is: how can you ensure your team have this combination before it is too late? The answer is to get this practice in before someone targets your business.

Businesses are used to running contingency plans or fire drills for a number of different disaster scenarios but are sometime not able to provide the correct environment to exercise or train in one of the most prevalent threats in our digital age: cyber threats.

Today’s security professionals are dealing with a complex and rapidly evolving environment. The falling cost of PC power means that cybercriminals are better resourced today and don’t rely on one vector to carry out attacks. If an IT team is coming up against this for the first time, in a real-world situation, the odds will never be stacked in their favour unless they have trained themselves to respond.

Humans learn by doing. In the same way that cyber security teams learnt to configure and update their systems, they must learn to protect their systems from a successful breach. On the job training is not the perfect answer as it comes with its fair share of risk, but skills should be developed and honed within a business-specific environment. This is where cyber security simulation ranges, like the one Palo Alto Networks has just launched in Amsterdam for its EMEA customers, can provide the right secure environment for IT professionals to collaborate, learn, and improve their skills and understanding of the anatomy of threats.

Prevention is key to stopping successful cyberattacks, but how can you prevent what you don’t know? Cyber security teams should be given the opportunity to apply their skills in a controlled simulation environment. This means they can practice defending against the latest threats – with simulation exercises continually updated to remain relevant – and give them training on the latest threats and most advanced real-world malware, such as ransomware.

As attackers use multiple vectors to carry out attacks, it is important that cyber security teams are put through their paces. This doesn’t work, however, unless teams are training with real life threat intelligence, which is different each time they go into training. They can come back to the organisation with a muscle memory of how to respond in a situation, helping to reduce the likelihood of confused and uncoordinated reactions in a real-life incident. Simulations help teams get real world experience, without putting an organisation in harm’s way.

Communication is also a vital skill for cyber security teams, but the pressure of a real attack can change how teams operate together, and if it’s the first time they are being attacked, it can change how individuals react and work as a team. Cyber security simulations counter this by putting teams under that kind of pressure. They can improve their collaboration and communication skills in realistic settings, spurred on by some friendly competition.  

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