Mining the Minecraft generation

Recruiting for the security: outside the box and into the Xbox

minecraft illagers
Credit: Microsoft

With a predicted global shortage of 2 million cyber security professionals by 2019, it’s now more crucial than ever to start thinking outside the box in recruiting efforts. 

It's quite possible that going outside the box means looking a little bit more closely into the Generation Zs, the Xbox generation. Gen Zs behaviors are among the most impactful driving forces for the security industry, according to Scott Chasin, CEO of ProtectWise.

Right now, as it has been for some time, the security architecture in enterprises is completely fragmented. "An alarm fatigue has set in to the point where enterprises can't find the talent to use those tools in order to respond and triage fast enough," Chasin said.

There is a growing desire for the highest skilled analysts to be put in hunting or patrolling, but working with the tools they have, those analysts yield nothing, said Chasin, noting that all of those things play into this jobs gap.

"Most organizations can't find Tier 1 analysts to actually do the responding part. We have to solve the Tier 1-3 issues because defend and protect is not where we are today. It's about detect and respond,"said Chasin.

The attack surface is going to continue to grow, and Chasin said that it's not going to shrink whether it's legacy or cloud or IoT. "Parallel to that is the attack climate that is not going to shrink and the jobs shortage. Every company in need can't find the talent," said Chasin.

So, the industry needs to get a little creative in preparing for the very near future if they are to stay ahead of current and emerging threats. "We need new forms of immersion with new utility models for how new data sets can be delivered with a much bigger appetite for virtual world collaboration," Chasin said. 

Companies need to realize that Gen Zs are the country’s most tangible security assets. The generation born between 1996-2012 is the generation now occupying college campuses and will soon be entering the workforce.

Chasin said, "They make up a quarter of our country’s population, and have surpassed Millennials and Baby Boomers as the largest generation." 

What if the future practitioners of security don’t necessarily need years of technical experience to recognize something is amiss with a company’s security?

Gen Zs in combination with Millennials are the kids that grew up with Minecraft and Xbox. They can navigate the virtual world and pinpoint problems that older generations can't, and that innate comfort with technology makes them more than qualified to take on cybersecurity. 

"The job gap is real," said Chasin. "We look at the problem set that is this gap originating in a number of fronts. The tool sets that we use today to forensically respond or proactively analyze are extremely archaic."

Whether its command lines or scripting languages, it doesn't scale. "When you look at that toolset combined with the skill set to leverage that, there is a problem. The intuitive nature in how Gen Zs collaborate is largely set in virtual worlds," Chasin said.

That compared to the endless amounts of certifications and education currently required of security practitioners makes the candidates of tomorrow very different. "We see an opportunity to leverage this next generation in virtual worlds, whether it's in responding or proactively hunting," Chasin said.

But Chasin isn't talking about the gamification of security.

"What we are talking about is borrowing gaming mechanics like radar, waypoint, or inventory management," Chasin said, "mechanics that are common with the Minecraft generation or within virtual worlds. When applied with the right data set, they can provide them with more efficient cyber forensic response and analysis."

The security industry needs to start leveraging the intuitiveness of those user experiences. "They can pick up a UI or interface and instantly be able to command it. They can instantly navigate, but that experience of collaborating virtually with teams hasn't really been embraced in security before," Chasin said. 

It's entirely possible that by catering technology to the skills and aesthetics of these younger generations, the cybersecurity industry may be able to close the job gap and skills shortage in the years to come.

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