Strategic cybersecurity communications: A balancing act
By Catherine Sabas
In government cybersecurity, careers go far beyond the security operations center: There’s compliance, policy, project management, even communications. Part of my current role at the Bureau of the Fiscal Service entails strategic communications for cybersecurity, a critically important function that I’ve found is prioritized in varying degrees across the private and public sectors.
As federal employees, we have a responsibility to prioritize the security of assets and data. While extraordinary effort is directed to protecting sensitive information, information sharing is also indispensable to any security program.
How do you know when to withhold information, or when it would be wiser to share it? How can a cyber program balance these seemingly conflicting needs? The challenge of this contradiction is part of what makes cybersecurity communications so intriguing to me. One solution I’ve seen work was a cross-agency forum designed to facilitate collaboration and information exchange among cybersecurity subject matter experts and executives. Forging partnerships—some of which may otherwise never have occurred—to discover common issues, transferrable lessons and mutually beneficial solutions provided a creative method to problem solve critical strategic cybersecurity challenges.
My work is anything but routine and I always welcome the mix of unique challenges and opportunities it brings. For anyone considering a career in cybersecurity, I advise you to find something you like. Challenges can be intimidating, but if the challenge interests you, you will find the motivation to take it on.
If you’re just starting your career, I encourage you to observe, absorb and participate even when you feel out of your depth; you learn by doing and being immersed. There is always something new to understand or piece together, and every agency is unique in its mission, and its stakeholders, and the way it operates. A nuanced and continually changing environment is a hallmark of the cybersecurity field and is also what makes the federal government such an exciting place to be.
Catherine Sabas works within the Department of Treasury at the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, where she supports IT strategic planning and cybersecurity strategic communications efforts.