How to Recruit and Retain Cybersecurity Blue Team Members – Built In

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Students are drawn to the allure of being white hat hackers, which they find trendy and exciting. They find the offensive roles filled by Red Team members appealing, due to higher salaries ($144,000 annual average in the United States) and more opportunities for advancement, not to mention the financial rewards from bug bounty programs.

But what about playing defense on a cybersecurity staff’s Blue Team?

Most young cybersecurity professionals have the misconception that defensive roles are less glamorous. And they’re not completely wrong. While Red Teams engage in more dynamic activities, aggressively attacking various systems by selecting various attack vectors, Blue Team members are tasked with the monotonous job of monitoring alerts and strategically building defenses.

5 Top Ways to Recruit and Retain Cybersecurity Blue Team Members

  1. Partner with a local university to find candidates.
  2. Offer internships to interested students.
  3. Market the job’s attractive salary and career path.
  4. Provide plenty of training for new employees.
  5. Offer a strong mentoring program for new Blue Team members.

The Red Team’s quick work delivers more visible results, while Blue Team defense requires routine work and thorough, time-intensive focus on building protection lines.

Young cybersecurity professionals might not consider a career as a Blue Team member, but they should. Blue Team members earn an attractive salary (average of $133,000 a year in the United States) and also forge exciting career paths.

It’s up to companies, and universities, to market Blue Team positions in a way that reaches these young professionals. Training is crucial, as is mentoring once the new hire is on board. Here are two strategies for attracting workers to essential Blue Team cybersecurity roles.

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Promote Training and Development

Training in realistic combat conditions is highly effective. Experts suggest using cyber exercises to build and assess team skills, although it is more challenging to gauge individual performance this way. Because businesses primarily require team results, this should not actually be a big issue. Additionally, incorporating mentoring into these exercises helps pinpoint and immediately address any knowledge gaps.

The quickest way for junior cybersecurity professionals to advance to mid-level roles is through hands-on experience at cyber training polygons, where foundational skills build rapidly. From there, engaging in Purple Teaming activities can further refine their abilities to an expert level.

A good idea is to implement a rotation program at your company that allows young cybersecurity professionals to experience different aspects of security and different roles, enhancing their understanding and skills. Regularly updating training modules to include diverse attack types can make Blue Team roles more dynamic and engaging.

At the same time, while practice is essential, it can be aimless without a theoretical foundation, so be sure to integrate theoretical courses with practical applications. Maintaining a balance between theory and practice is vital for effective learning.

Tailor training methods to different learning styles and also to develop a tiered training program that progressively hones the skills of cybersecurity professionals from basic to advanced levels to optimize the effectiveness of the program for every team member.

Finally, train all company specialists, not just the Blue Team, to ensure comprehensive security. The collective awareness and preparedness of all team members contribute significantly to the company’s overall security effectiveness.

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Partner With Universities in Cyber Skill-Building 

Businesses prefer hiring trained specialists to save resources and time, as training typically requires a significant amount of time. In this regard, introducing security operations centers (SOCs) at universities has proven highly effective. Cyber battles also yield strong training results. Businesses can engage students as early as their second or third year of university.

Information security firms offer a variety of platforms to train security specialists, including cybersecurity training polygons, vendor-specific courses, hackathons, collaborations with universities and internship programs. Regular career fairs and cybersecurity-focused events can help attract students and graduates by showcasing real-world applications of their skills. Modern approaches like autonomous recruitment, where AI can assist with recruitment tasks from sourcing candidates to making hiring decisions, can help businesses hire better specialists faster.

Many young professionals either do not fully grasp the career trajectory in Blue Teaming or find it unappealing compared to Red Teaming, which is not only easier to understand but also offers quicker results and more visibility. While Blue Teaming is perceived as labor-intensive, the repetitive nature of offensive roles often leads to boredom

However, expertise in defensive security is where significant skill development occurs. To facilitate this progression, numerous courses, hackathons, and other resources have been developed, with active efforts to engage students in becoming defenders.

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