In Cybersecurity, Diverse Talent Is Key to Innovation

Following the Equifax breach, it should be abundantly clear that cybersecurity is now a concern for everyone – companies of all sizes and all industries, as well as individuals. The question is not whether your information is exposed, but what cybercriminals will do with it. Over the last few years, we have seen cybercrime shift more to targeting individuals, either for their private assets or for ways into the companies for which they work.

Aside from identity theft and credit card fraud, a serious consequence of the Equifax breach is that cybercriminals may use your exposed personal information to craft targeted and convincing impersonations – through phishing and social engineering – to infiltrate your digital world and steal assets from you or the people to whom you are connected. High-profile or high-net-worth individuals are at particular risk, due to their status as juicy targets themselves or as entry points into their associated organizations.

Cybercrime has become a digital arms race. Cybercriminals are well-funded and relentlessly looking for ways to circumvent the latest security advances. Protecting yourself from this tsunami of digital crime will never be achieved via an "install and leave it" mentality. Cyber security is only possible through continual adaptation and constant vigilance.

The Innovation Imperative

In the cybersecurity industry, there is an innovation imperative. My company, Rubica, provides government-grade cybersecurity to private individuals. To stay ahead of emerging threats, we must constantly think outside the box, challenge assumptions, and expect the unexpected. It's not good enough to block known threats. New variants of malware emerge daily, and zero-day exploits can exist in the wild for years before they are discovered. Cutting-edge cybersecurity requires searching for the unknown – finding threats when you don't know what they will look like, where they will come from, or how they will attack.

The human piece of cybersecurity is key to innovation. In terms of detecting new and unknown threats, even the most sophisticated A.I. and machine learning is no substitute for the human role in creative problem-solving. The trick is to put elite technical tools in the hands of smart people.

Threats are diverse and always changing, so cybersecurity teams must also be diverse and nimble.

Diverse Teams Drive Cybersecurity Innovation

When recruiting at Rubica, we consider skills and experience, but we also intentionally look for candidates who can bring diverse perspectives and backgrounds to our team. Diversity is an asset in itself, and it is one of the top five things we look for when hiring new talent.

Innovation means pushing at problems from new angles and challenging the status quo. The members of diverse teams challenge and push each other more than the members of homogeneous teams do. They ask different questions, bring fresh ways of thinking to problem sets, and engage in constructive kinds of dissent that produce better results.

Many companies now realize the need for diversity, but few are taking meaningful steps toward actually achieving diversity and inclusion. Diversity is just a measure; inclusion is diversity in action.

Inclusion means creating an environment where people feel appreciated, heard, respected, and valued for their differences, not in spite of them. In inclusive atmospheres, all team members have equal and meaningful access to opportunities within the company. To actualize the benefits inherent to a diverse workforce, the company culture needs to be inclusive. It needs to foster open communication and trust among teammates. Creative and high-achieving teams can only exist when the members of those teams feel safe expressing divergent ideas, voicing opinions, asking questions, and challenging the way things are done.

In cybersecurity, innovation and diversity aren't optional. They are requirements if we want to stay ahead of emerging threat trends. More cybersecurity companies need to place value on diversity as a standalone asset when considering candidates – if not for their company's own well-being, then for the safety of their customers.

Frances Dewing is COO at Rubica.