Is Your IT MSP a Cyber Security Guru? Check for These 5 Soft Skills to Find Out


MSP iStockIn a commentary for InformationWeek’s DARKReading community, Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTIA, the non-profit IT trade association, advises aspiring IT job candidates to target the cyber security sector.

But Thibodeaux also counsels job seekers not rely solely on technical prowess for landing a position in IT. “Technical chops are prerequisites,” he writes. “It’s the soft skills – including communication and a knack for problem-solving – that will differentiate” run-of-the-mill IT workers from cyber security gurus.


Thibodeaux’s premise extends beyond the IT job market to the relationship between small to mid-size businesses and their Managed Services Providers(MSPs). Business leaders, many of whom feel unprepared for the escalating barrage of cyber threats, are increasingly turning to MSPs for support. And they’re looking for more than a technology toolkit from their MSPs. To use Thibodeaux’s words, they want “well-rounded professionals who can apply their security expertise across the business in order to yield bottom-line results.”

But how can business executives tell whether their MSP’s team is loaded with cyber security gurus? Thibodeaux recommends looking for these five “soft skills”:

  1. A penchant for consultative thinking
    Cyber security gurus look beyond the purely tactical level to see the big picture. A good cyber security MSP will ask a lot of questions in an effort to understand the potential damages of cyber attacks so the cost of thwarting them can be managed within budget.
  2. An aptitude for research & writing
    Businesses of all shapes and sizes across a variety of industries need to develop security plans that include end-user guidelines, incident response protocols and governance structures. Cyber security gurus know how to research, write and implement these plans. A good cyber security MSPs will work shoulder to shoulder with managers and their employees to discover and specify requirements – and then identify and document best practices that will fulfill those requirements.
  3. A talent for teaching
    Cyber security gurus know how to articulate and communicate dense, technical information in a way anyone in an organization can understand. Along with crafting policies, a good cyber security MSP can help educate staff on best practices and the risks when vigilance isn’t exercised.
  4. A passion for learning
    Because cyber crooks continually work to improve their craft, cyber security gurus know they always must keep their own knowledge up-to-date and their skills sharp. A good cyber security MSP will require continuing education for its support teams, covering the full circle of threats from outsider attacks like phishing to insider vulnerabilities.
  5. A gift for collaboration
    Cyber security gurus know how to navigate challenging projects and difficult conversations with anyone in a client organization – from the head of the company to the teams working the front lines of the business. A good cyber security MSP will have an inclusive, patient, and open-minded attitude when handling multiple threats and incidents across teams and office locations.