The cloud is a daunting place, but it is also full of growth and potential. As cloud technology grows, businesses can see increased productivity, flexibility, and efficiency, but securing the data can be a difficult job. Cloud security has roots in traditional physical and cybersecurity, but it is also a different animal that requires unique understanding and experience. To effectively secure the cloud, employees need to possess a unique skill set, including the following characteristics:
• Technical knowledge. Obviously, the most important skill on the list is a technical understanding of the cloud and cybersecurity. This skill includes understanding the latest hacking trends, knowing what areas of a company’s data are most at risk, and knowing how to detect and eliminate threats. The best cloud security professionals can spot a problem in an integrated security solution and fix it. Knowledge of multiple coding languages and databases, including hybrid cloud computing, and a basic understanding of analytics are also valuable technical skills to have in your tool belt.
• A service-oriented approach. Using the cloud really comes down to making it easier for people to get the data and services they need. A traditional cybersecurity role was more concerned with internal IT operations, but a cloud security operator should be more focused on making sure security is built into the cloud provider’s service. Maintaining customer relationships is a huge part of the job, as is ensuring that everyone who has access to the cloud can get his or her work done well and securely. To do that, the best cloud security officers can interact with people and technology. They can pinpoint what aspects of the cloud might be challenging for people and then work to find solutions that make employees and customers happy.
• Business savvy. Although a CISO (chief information security officer) or any other level of cloud security professional must possess a strong technical understanding, a cloud security professional must also know how the cloud plays a role in the overall business strategy. IT is an increasingly integral part of business, which means technical people are being called on to interface with executives more frequently. To gain funding and support to secure the cloud, security professionals must be able to explain to the company’s decision makers why the investment is important and give them updates that they can understand.
• Leadership. As the cloud grows, so will the number of security officers needed. Being able to step up as a leader and work in a team will be huge differentiators for employees. This is especially important in larger companies, where certain employees may be assigned to cover certain areas of the cloud. Vital skills these leaders should have include knowing the most at-risk areas and being able to assign and manage employees working over those different areas.
• Flexibility. The cloud is constantly growing and changing, and with those changes come evolving security threats. To be effective in securing the cloud, professionals must be flexible and adaptable. What worked to detect and eliminate threats even just a few months ago might not be the best course of action today; by keeping abreast of the latest trends and concerns, flexible employees can stay one step ahead of hackers and keep their company’s information safe. Being able to move to converged storage quickly if the need arises, for example, can be a huge boost to a company instead of being stuck in outdated security practices.
• X factor. And then there’s the indescribable factor that makes certain candidates great at securing the cloud. For some experts and experienced CISOs, that means someone who has lived and worked in the traditional space but who also transitioned to the cloud and worked there for some time. It isn’t easy to define, but the unique combination of skills and experiences can set job candidates apart and make them qualified to secure the cloud.
The cloud itself is constantly changing, which means the security demands are also constantly in flux. With a combination of these skills and the ability to be flexible, a cloud security professional can find great success in the field.
Rick Delgado is a technology commentator and freelance writer.