The world is filled with all types of personalities, from the studious, analytical characters to the carefree, spontaneous types and all the others in between. A personality has a dramatic effect on an individual’s life and helps determines their future.
Career tests that are filled out during our early youth base our future job possibilities off our aspirations, dreams and personality, and people with certain personality types gravitate towards specific careers.
Today the job market is searching the country for a specific personality type, the cybersecurity specialist. An increase in company and government data breaches has resulted in thousands of cybersecurity job openings, with more than 209,000 available jobs waiting to be filled.
Demand far outweighs the supply in this specific niche, and knowledgeable and skilled cybersecurity officers, analysts, technicians, auditors, consultants, engineers, and managers are the supply. An expected 6 million job openings in 2019, so what personality types will be to fill these roles?
The Masters Theses and Doctoral Dissertation “Examination of Personality Characteristics among Cybersecurity and Information Technology Professionals”, by University of Tennessee graduate Sarah Ellen Freed, explores the mind and personality traits of cybersecurity professionals.
A total of 118 cybersecurity and IT professionals partook in the study and were recruited through several LinkedIn forum groups like IT networking forum, IT specialist – Information Technology Network, Information Technology: Audit Governance Group, Cybersecurity: Law, Policy, and Technology, and Cybersecurity.
All participants came from different educational backgrounds, fell in the age range of 22 to 67 years, and came from different ethnicities. More than half of the participants, 61 % classified themselves as cybersecurity professionals and 39% said they were information technology employees.
Each participant filled out the IPIP NEO Short Form personality questionnaire, which is made up of five spheres of the Big Five:
Openness: The degree to which an individual is creative and imaginative or conventional and grounded.
Conscientiousness: The measurement of an individual’s ability to control their impulses.
Extraversion: The extent to which someone is outgoing and enjoys interacting with the external world.
Agreeableness: The measure of social harmony, non-confrontation & cooperation that an individual may pursue.
Neuroticism: The amount of negative feelings/emotions an individual may feel.
Results show that cybersecurity professionals are open, assertive, adventurous intellectuals.
Compared to people who have careers in information technology, cybersecurity professionals have no limits when it comes to problem-solving and devising new security strategies. They have higher creative capabilities and at the same time are grounded and realistic when it comes to carrying out their plans.
In opposition to the generalized qualities that people pair with computer experts a majority of cybersecurity professionals are not shy and timid but assertive and confident.
Scoring high in Extraversion, they can stand their ground and don’t shy away from obstacles or confrontation.
Adventurous and intellectual are two other subdomains that cybersecurity expers scored high in, heightening their value in the workforce. With innovative minds and astute problem-solving capabilities, they possess the qualities needed to understand the mind of the hacker and counter their attacks.
Aggreeablenesss, sympathy, trust, vulnerability and efl-consciousness are the characteristics that cybersecurity experts scored lower than IT’s. Perhaps due to their high scores in the assertive and intellectual facets, individuals in the cybersecurity field aren’t extremely agreeable because they’re convinced in their own ideas and decisions, which also validates their low score in self-consciousness.
Low scores in subdomains vulnerability, sympathy and trust is an indicator that cybersecurity experts are always on the defense, questioning other’s intentions and not receiving things at the face value.
This study gives us a small glimpse into the minds and personality traits of the masses that will begin to fill the cybersecurity market, and shouldn’t be used to generalize all cybersecurity employees. Luckily, we can expect a majority of the cybersecurity defense team to be attentive, innovative and aggressive while trying to protect and secure our data.