Join the hunt for cy­ber threats

IT ex­pe­ri­ence not needed

Western Times - - LIFE - ME­LANIE BURGESS

‘‘ THE BA­SIC JOB DE­SCRIP­TION IS YOU NEED TO BE IN­TENSELY CU­RI­OUS, RE­ALLY CRE­ATIVE ABOUT WAYS OF BREAK­ING THINGS AND … SU­PER PARA­NOID ABOUT EV­ERY­THING YOU SEE. RYAN MCGEE

CY­BER se­cu­rity threat hun­ters are in strong de­mand and be­ing hired from a sur­pris­ing range of back­grounds. Skill short­ages for the niche role have forced em­ploy­ers to cast their nets wider than the in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy com­mu­nity, sourc­ing work­ers trained in ar­eas from cre­ative arts to medicine and physics. Mi­crosoft di­rec­tor of se­cu­rity Ryan McGee de­scribes threat hun­ters as cy­ber se­cu­rity pro­fes­sion­als fo­cused on pre-empt­ing cy­ber at­tacks rather than re­spond­ing to in­ci­dents. He says au­to­ma­tion and ma­chine learn­ing has freed up work­ers that pre­vi­ously con­ducted rou­tine data anal­y­sis to in­ves­ti­gate sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity be­fore it be­comes an at­tack. “Even if an in­ci­dent hasn’t oc­curred, there’s just some­thing sus­pi­cious go­ing on, they now have the time to in­ves­ti­gate,” he said. McGee gives the ex­am­ple of a US-based user who does not typ­i­cally work week­ends log­ging into mul­ti­ple de­vices on a Sun­day in Is­tan­bul. “Now that they’ve freed up some of their time with this au­to­ma­tion ca­pa­bil­ity, (hun­ters) can poke at that a lit­tle bit,” he said. If the user’s iden­tity does not check out, the hunter can look into past ac­tiv­ity on the de­vice. Ul­ti­mately, they may present ev­i­dence to law en­force­ment and bring the at­tacker to jus­tice. “It’s a pretty hot space,” McGee said. “There’s a global tal­ent short­age … and (em­ploy­ers) are start­ing to get very cre­ative.” The tra­di­tional path is to study com­puter sci­ence at univer­sity then spe­cialise in cy­ber se­cu­rity and climb ranks from help desk jobs and re­set­ting pass­words to learn­ing more about in­ves­ti­ga­tions. Now, em­ploy­ers are look­ing for hun­ters ev­ery­where. “The ba­sic job de­scrip­tion is you need to be in­tensely cu­ri­ous, re­ally cre­ative about ways of break­ing things and … su­per para­noid about ev­ery­thing you see,” McGee said. “They’re look­ing for peo­ple straight out of univer­sity, peo­ple that have skipped univer­sity and gone into other ca­reers, peo­ple in the cre­ative arts space. It’s not too late.”

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