Empowering SOC Analysts: How to Develop the Human Element of Cybersecurity

By Megan Whited, Technical Learning Experience Coordinator

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

In the fast-paced world of cybersecurity, where buzzwords like automation and artificial intelligence (AI) dominate the conversation, it’s easy to overlook the unsung heroes behind the scene – our trusty Security Operations Center (SOC) analysts. The first step toward developing any SOC team is to hire analysts with curiosity, critical thinking, and ambition. Then, we need to provide those analysts with resources to pursue training which aligns with their career path as well as the SOC’s needs.

The Human Touch in Cybersecurity

Sure, automation, AI, and all those risk-based alerting systems are pretty helpful tools. But guess what? They wouldn’t even exist without the input of our human analysts. These folks are the beating heart of our Security Operations, bringing their frontline experience and sharp insights to the table. When suspicious events occur, and there may be an incident happening in real-time, security leadership isn’t looking for a bot’s analysis – they want a human touch, someone who can navigate the chaos and provide that reassurance when it matters most – and who is making use of those fantastic tools well to come to these conclusions quickly and accurately. 

Traits of Successful Analysts

Now, let’s talk about what sets our top-notch analysts apart from the rest of the pack. The key traits we see in the most successful analysts are curiosity, critical thinking, and ambition. These folks aren’t content with the status quo – they’re constantly pushing the boundaries, hungry for knowledge and eager to level up their game. 

Analysis work itself requires curiosity to scratch away at an event and the contextual clues around it. But analysts are also naturally curious about the foundational knowledge required to do this work. If you aren’t curious, you aren’t staying current on trends and technologies and you will quickly become obsolete – good analysts know this and act on this trait. 

Analysts also have to be critical thinkers. They are often called upon to take the foundational knowledge on operating systems, networking, email analysis, etc. and find evidence of malicious behavior across different security tools and platforms. Then they need to condense their findings into a professionally written analysis for review and for leadership to make decisions upon. It is nearly impossible to accomplish this without critical thinking skills.

Ambition is important because, when paired with curiosity, that is an analyst’s drive. Their reason for pursuing continuous education, even if it is outside of working hours. Ambition is also what drives you to continuously improve your analysis, to work more efficiently. You can’t train that. You have to find someone with that drive, otherwise they are not going to make it long in cyber. As SOC leaders, it’s imperative to prioritize these qualities when recruiting and nurturing talent within our teams.

Effective Training Strategies for Cyber Resilience

You can’t maintain a top-notch SOC without an emphasis on training and continuing education. Building a resilient SOC team isn’t just about ticking off boxes on a training checklist – it’s about fostering a culture of continuous improvement and creating a learning organization. We’re talking hands-on training in lab environments which mirror the tech stack that an analyst actually works in and structured 1:1 sessions where shadowing includes parallel work with a mentor’s guidance.

Ultimately, we’re creating a space where analysts feel empowered to explore their own interests in cyber while also aligning those interests with organizational goals. SOC leadership needs to provide financial and operational resources which guide those interests toward training opportunities that are a WIN/WIN for the analyst’s career development as well as the SOC. At Deepwatch, we’re all about hands-on learning, career pathing, and embracing a learning culture as the “Deepwatch Way”.

Embracing Cyber Resilience Through Continuous Improvement

So let’s embrace the human side of cybersecurity. By empowering our analysts with the tools, training, and support they need, we can take our SOC teams to new heights of cyber resilience. It’s not just about defending against the latest threats – it’s about fostering a learning culture with a focus on continuous improvement that keeps us one step ahead of the game. Together, let’s champion the human element in cybersecurity and make our digital world a safer place for all.

#CyberResilience #ContinuousImprovement #Deepwatch #SOC #Cybersecurity #LearningOrganization

Megan Whited, Technical Learning Experience Coordinator

Megan Whited serves as the Technical Learning Experience Coordinator at Deepwatch, bringing a rich background that encompasses a Master’s degree in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance, a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and numerous security industry certifications. Her professional journey has navigated through various domains, including work within a Security Operations Center (SOC), entrepreneurship in small business, and operations management.

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