What’s Changed (and What Hasn’t) for Cybersecurity Pros During the Pandemic
There has never been a time in IT and cybersecurity when things have stood completely still. Technology is always improving. Solutions are developed to meet new needs. New threats emerge, and new modalities and countermeasures are developed to protect against them. Change is a constant. But we can hardly pretend that the last year wasn’t different. In cybersecurity, as in all areas of life, we were faced with a sudden onslaught of new demands all at once – some which we were ill-prepared to meet.
How the Pandemic Impacted Cybersecurity
Within a matter of weeks in March 2020, a majority of the workforce was suddenly working from home. Of all the business verticals disrupted by this, one might have imagined that cybersecurity would not need to shift gears too much. Remote management and securing of infrastructure were, in fact, well under way before the pandemic. How much could pandemic circumstances impact a workforce that was already comfortable working remotely?
The reality, however, is that the pandemic has represented a significant challenge for cybersecurity pros. Though we are used to addressing the technological challenges of remote work, a full lockdown has introduced a host of very human challenges into management of the technology.
Those just getting started in cybersecurity or considering a career in the field may be wondering – how much does the pandemic-era incarnation of the profession resemble how it looked before, and how will it look when the dust settles?
Let’s take a look at how the pandemic-era remote cybersecurity experience differs for pros from the systems administrator to the CISO, to get a feel for what it might look like if and when we can slowly and safely return to the office.
Life in the Decentralized SOC
In cybersecurity, as in all areas of computing, more is accomplished virtually than ever before. The security operations center (SOC) has long consisted of a dispersed crew of cybersecurity pros working apart from the infrastructure and applications they secure. Well before this most recent, expansion of working from home, cybersecurity staff were completing business-critical tasks from outside the office such as:
- Pushing patches to remote systems rather than to machines in the same physical space
- Securing cloud and hybrid cloud systems in accordance with shared responsibility guidelines
- Using penetration testing tools to reveal vulnerabilities in networks and applications
- Architecting networks and solutions to minimize the risks of data theft or misuse
- Controlling access privileges