Younger Cybersecurity Pros Believe Automation Coming for Their Jobs

Not everything in cybersecurity should be automated.

Younger cybersecurity pros are worried they’ll be deemed redundant and replaced by automation.

That’s according to Samantha Humphries, security strategist with Exabeam. The security information and event management (SIEM) vendor’s virtual Spotlight20 conference was this week. The conference drew 700 attendees and a little more than 80 of those were partners.

Exabeam's Sam Humphries

Exabeam’s Samantha Humphries

During the conference, we sat down, virtually, with Humphries to discuss the latest trends with cybersecurity pros. Exabeam released its 2020 cybersecurity pros salary, skills and stress survey last month.

Channel Futures: Why are younger cybersecurity pros worried about automation replacing them?

Samantha Humphries: People understood that automation is a benefit and there are high levels of agreement there, that automation is a good thing to have in security. But when we asked how it may affect them personally, a lot of younger people did feel that it was potentially going to mean that they wouldn’t have any work to do. And that was a big surprise because we were like, “OK, well, they get it and they get that it’s important. But then they’re worried. Still, a lot of the trial and the investigation work is being done manually … and if you’re in the early stages of your career, it’s quite common that that’s the sort of work you’ll be doing. And that’s the sort of work that automation can then take away.

People aren’t finding enough time for training. That’s still a challenge. The training is happening, but it’s not happening enough. People are still having to do training in their own time. They’re doing a lot of manual work. They’re not necessarily getting the training that they need. And one of the biggest reasons that people leave an organization is a lack of career path. It’s almost a perfect storm in that is automation coming for me and I’m not being able to move my career forward in my organization.

CF: So their concern about automation is valid?

SH: If you think that your job is going to be manual work forever and then the automation is coming, then that’s something I always refer back to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In the movie, there’s a section where Charlie Puckett’s dad loses his job to a machine. He works at a toothpaste factory and then he gets a job fixing the machines that replaced his job. It’s a slightly strange analogy, but it’s actually quite relevant because there are so many needs now for people who understand automation, people who can sit down and do that and plan out that work, maintain automation because it’s never a one-and-done thing. You don’t just go automated. You’re always constantly looking for new opportunities to automate things. So I think there’s a lot of opportunity there.

CF: So instead of fearing automation, they should embrace it and the potential opportunities from it?

SH: Not everything should be automated by any means. But certainly the repeatable, well-documented, well-understood processes that are kind of high-volume things like triage, and then also correlating information and putting that in front of a person to help them make a decision. That’s a great use case for automation.

There’s always more work than people can handle. That’s the first thing. And then … we’ve now got this bring-your-own-home world that everybody’s working in because we all kind of scattered to the corners of the Earth. The attack surface is now very, very different.

So if you’ve got a challenge of millions of alerts coming through every day, compounded by manual processes, being able to get to everything is …

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