Whether you’re just starting out in the workforce or making a career change, knowing what skills make up an excellent cyber security professional and how to work towards them is essential.

The good news is that the industry as a whole is in dire need of qualified professionals, with the cyber skills gap totaling 3.4 million workers as of this year, a 26.2% increase since 2021.

However, you still need to be at the top of your game if you want to get the position of your dreams.

Former CSO for international retail corporations and CISO coach and consultant at Terranova, Laraine Weglarz has worked with hundreds of security professionals since the 1990s. She has developed a keen eye for the attributes, and skills security workers need to be successful.

Below are the 10 most desired traits of a cybersecurity professional:

1 – Passion

cyber security professional

When you are passionate about something, you pay closer attention to the details. A passion for cybersecurity can come from believing that you’re improving other people’s lives. Passionate security professionals want to protect and empower people with the knowledge needed to embrace security-aware behaviors.

“Passion is the No.1 characteristic for someone working in cyber security,” said Weglarz. “If you don’t ooze passion for security, you come across to those you’re training or working with as just another mouthpiece. When others sense your passion for security, they’re inspired. A passionate attitude is infectious.”

2 – Clear Communication

cyber security professional

No matter what your role is in security, you must be able to communicate technical and business concerns clearly, and concisely.

After all, other coworkers will rely on you to understand how security affects the business side of the organization, particularly when it comes to requesting a budget for security awareness programs or opting for a cultural shift toward prioritizing cybersecurity.

3 – Lifelong Learner

Good security pros have a thirst for knowledge. They’re constantly engaging with developments in their field and trying to develop new skills to keep up with the threat landscape.

Having the aptitude of a lifelong learner is essential for keeping up with new cyber threats, regulations, and technologies, which change an organization’s risk posture.

4 – Enjoy Problem Solving and Challenges

cyber security professional

At a high level, cybersecurity is a game of chess. Security professionals need to anticipate the moves of hackers so they can stay ahead of them and counter malicious activity.

During live incidents, this involves solving problems on the spot (and under pressure) to protect the environment from threat actors.

5 – Have a Flexible Viewpoint. 

cyber security professionalThe ability to see the entire picture is important in cyber security. It’s not enough to have a macro-level, business-wide view of your organization’s security posture; you also need to have a micro view—an understanding of the hands-on operational protections in place at each tier of the business.

Without this perspective, it’s much more challenging to implement new security programs and procedures that enhance the organization’s security posture.

6 – Planning and Project Management 

cyber security professional

Everything in security—from establishing policies to implementing technology—translates to a project. As a result, it’s critical to have the ability to plan and complete a project.

Project management skills are one of the most underrated aspects of enterprise security and will pay dividends when implementing new training programs, cultural shifts, or technologies.

7 – Ability to Delegate 

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Cybersecurity is a team game. We never win if we do it alone. Knowing when to delegate, share duties and seek the opinions of others is a must-have in the world of security. After all, two heads are better than one. One of your coworkers may see something you don’t or have an additional idea for how to handle a situation.

8 – Vision for the Future 

cyber security professional

While no one can be expected to know the future, security professionals should be able to anticipate “the next big thing” in security and technology to help prepare their organizations to address emerging threats.

Part of the challenge of effectively predicting and responding to upcoming trends comes down to grounding your vision in the reality of your budget and being able to assess the risk-reward of a particular action.

9 – Happy to Engage with Others 

cyber security professional

Security is about people. Security teams are tasked with protecting personal data, able people, and belonging to people, and it takes open communication with others throughout the business to secure this information continuously.

Addressing security challenges from a personal point of view and listening to others will do wonders for the overall security posture of the organization.

10 – Self-driven, Self-managed 

cyber security professional

While cybersecurity is a team effort, you also need the ability to work independently without supervision. This means you need to be driven and able to manage yourself.

Passion can inspire a driven person, but self-management channels that so you can make a real impact on your organization’s security as an individual and part of a team.



Resources to Help Hone Your Skills

If you think that you have the right attributes to succeed in the cybersecurity industry, then it’s a good idea to incorporate regular research and training into your routine so that you can learn about new technologies and threats.

Looking for short, easily digestible, micro-learning content with rich media assets will help you quickly learn about threats like phishing and social engineering, which are constantly evolving and pose one of the biggest risks to modern organizations.

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If you want to learn more about improving security awareness in your organization, you can also check out our eBook, The Human Fix to Human Risk, which provides a 5-step framework for developing an effective security awareness training program.