4 Ways Cyber Security Can Benefit from Diversity

Media Division | May 15, 2017

If when you hear the term “IT Department” you think of a bunch of white guys in white short-sleeved shirts and ties, it may be because cyber teams are notoriously lacking in diversity.  With the advent of female engineering programs such as Women Who Code, nationwide FemStem initiatives, and other endeavors, diversity in the area is beginning to grow.  Still, cyber security, overall, lacks diversity, and it costs more than companies may realize.

Here are four ways cyber security can benefit from diversity.

1. Gender Diversity

The increasing popularity of initiatives to recruit female coders has lots to do with unspoken/unnameable gender differences.  Women account for 50% of the population and by some accounts as much as 85% of all consumer purchases.

Therefore, failing to recognize the needs of a female market can cost companies billions of dollars—and those who effectively market to the women spending the money soar.

In the area of programming and coding, many companies have come to the same realization—if we want women to use our app/program/software/whatever-we-are-making, we should probably have at least one on our product development team.

The same could be said of cyber security. To effectively prevent cyber attacks, you cannot discount that you might also be dealing with female hackers.  Having at least one woman on a cyber security team can offer insight otherwise missed.

2. Racial Diversity

When you talk about diversity and you immediately jump to, “Let’s include a white woman on the IT team,” you, unfortunately, can neglect another important form of diversity: racial diversity.

The world of hacking and cyber attacks knows many cultures.  Unilateral thinking will not climb inside the possible avenues of attack and mitigate all risk.  Countries, as varied as China, North Korea, Turkey, Brazil, India, and Romania all, are possible fountains of cyber crime.  To have a lack of racial diversity on a cyber security team, then, means to not as effectively deal with all of those many angles from which an attack may emanate.

The United States is incredibly diverse.  By capitalizing on that racial diversity, a cyber security team could better understand and defend against potential cyber attacks.

3. Socioeconomic Diversity

Crime of any kind happens for a variety of reasons, but the underlying motivation often has to do with money or power.  For a cyber security team who has always had sufficient financial resources, access to education, material goods, and such pleasures as regular meals and shelter, it could be very difficult to understand why someone would commit a crime.

An estimated one million cyber security job openings exist.  Surely that means there is plenty of room to share, within the wealthy United States.

Other nations may even envy the United States power, corporate resources, and success.  Some cyber attacks may even be motivated by a desire to “level the playing field” globally, or destabilize the global economy.

By welcoming socioeconomic diversity within the field of cyber security, those job openings get filled and new angles get considered in analyzing cyber attack: a win-win.

4. Diversity of Education and Training

Computer engineering is a fine path to cyber security.  However, successful teams include diverse educational experiences and training.  An HR background may provide new insight.  A legal background could offer a different vision.  A mathematics background can work a new angle.

A team with all of these different backgrounds, in as broad of a spectrum of experiences and personnel as possible, could provide the best possible observation, assessment and judgment when it comes to cyber analysis, threat mitigation and cyber security.

Are you prepared to diversify your team?

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