The 8 Personality Traits to Succeed in Cyber Security

A look at the eight personality traits that successful cyber security people have

Cyber security risks increasing

Anyone with a computer knows that cyber security threats are on the rise.

With the rapid increase of security breaches, company hacks and data leaks, cyber crime has become one of the most significant threats to global business.

Skills in short supply

There is also a global shortage of people with the skills required to be cyber security professionals, which is expected to grow to 1.8 million workers by 2022.

The demand for talent in this space is at an all-time high, and there are some unique personality traits that recruiters and companies need to look out for.

Personality solution

Part of the solution to overcoming the skills shortage says Dr. Ryne Sherman, Chief Science Officer at Hogan Assessments, could be to recruit people with the right personality to be a cyber security professional as these people will be easier to train in the skills required and will be more successful in the role.

Dr Sherman says that there are eight personality characteristics best suited to a successful career in cyber security.

1. Modest.

Those people that tend to excel in cyber security typically prefer to avoid the spotlight.

A successful cyber security professional is not egotistical or fame hungry, and instead favors a more low-key lifestyle.

After all, most of the well-known names in cyber security are notorious cyber-criminals.

2. Altruistic

​Cyber security professionals should want to help people.

While they are working all day with systems and programming, protecting and helping people is at the core of this profession. They should work well with others and avoid isolating themselves.

Fighting threats will require cooperation and trust between colleagues as they are striving together towards the same security goals.

3. Composed

The enterprise systems they are protecting from attacks are always under threat. 

Cyber security professionals naturally need to have a sense of urgency, but it is crucial that they stay composed handling cyber threats.

Unnecessary outbursts when the pressure is rising can be counterproductive and shift their attention away from what is at stake.

4. Scientific

The perfect cyber security professional wants to solve problems using data and analytic skills.

Cyber criminals are increasingly sophisticated in their attacks and this requires individuals who are highly technical and value evidence-based decision making.

5. Inquisitive

The world of cyber security is ever changing.

When threats are prevented, new ones emerge which can require a completely different set of skills than the ones needed previously.

A successful cyber security professional is imaginative, curious and creative.

They need to figure things out quickly, show motivation to learn and be open to new ideas.

6. Skeptical

‘Trust no one’ would be a useful motto for a cyber security professionals.

To get ahead of the game and prevent attacks means sometimes having to think like a hacker.

This means maintaining suspicion about what’s going on around you, because in a world of constant threats, naivety can be a dangerous thing.

7. Responsive

In cyber security, things can go wrong quickly, and you might be blamed for breaches that weren’t your fault.

If someone in the company opens a phishing email and exposes sensitive information, you might be held accountable. It is thus very important for a cyber security professional to be open and responsive to criticisms and avoid being passive-aggressive.

8. Diligent

In a pressured environment with a firm’s security at stake, a successful cyber security professional needs to be detail-oriented and constantly pushing projects to completion.

One small oversight could lead to attacks, so cyber security specialists need to scrutinise every detail.

They also need to value achievement and making an impact.

Overcoming tradition

Traditional recruiting methods usually focus on existing skills and past work experience, but overlook personality.

Ignoring the role of personality in job success could be one of the reasons why people fail to engage with their work and feel like a square peg in a round hole.

Personality and productivity

In a world that is increasingly interested in increasing employee productivity and improving employee engagement it is important to recognise that the traditional approach to recruiting may be setting some people up to fail.

Matching the requirements of the role to the personality of the candidate and vice versa could be the key to unlocking the potential for employees to attain their full potential.

Clive Armitage

Career Development Adviser

FutureLearn Limited
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