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CIS Control 17

Security Skills Assessment and Appropriate Training to Fill Gaps

Key Principle:

For all functional roles in the organization (prioritizing those mission-critical to the business and its security), identify the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to support defense of the enterprise; develop and execute an integrated plan to assess, identify gaps, and remediate through policy, organizational planning, training, and awareness programs.

Why is this CIS Control critical?

It is tempting to think of cyber defense primarily as a technical challenge, but the actions of people also play a critical part in the success or failure of an enterprise. People fulfill important functions at every stage of system design, implementation, operation, use, and oversight. Examples include: system developers and programmers (who may not understand the opportunity to resolve root cause vulnerabilities early in the system life cycle); IT operations professionals (who may not recognize the security implications of IT artifacts and logs); end users (who may be susceptible to social engineering schemes such as phishing); security analysts (who struggle to keep up with an explosion of new information); and executives and system owners (who struggle to quantify the role that cybersecurity plays in overall operational/mission risk, and have no reasonable way to make relevant investment decisions).

Attackers are very conscious of these issues and use them to plan their exploitations by, for example: carefully crafting phishing messages that look like routine and expected traffic to an unwary user; exploiting the gaps or seams between policy and technology (e.g., policies that have no technical enforcement); working within the time window of patching or log review; using nominally non-security-critical systems as jump points or bots.

No cyber defense approach can effectively address cyber risk without a means to address this fundamental vulnerability. Conversely, empowering people with good cyber defense habits can significantly increase readiness.

Main Points:
  • Perform gap analysis to see which skills employees need to implement the other Controls, and which behaviors employees are not adhering to, using this information to build a baseline training and awareness roadmap for all employees.
  • Deliver training to fill the skills gap. If possible, use more senior staff to deliver the training. A second option is to have outside teachers provide training onsite so the examples used will be directly relevant. If you have small numbers of people to train, use training conferences or online training to fill the gaps.

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