It's no secret that the cybersecurity field is in high demand. With the number of data breaches, malware threats, and malicious attacks growing every day, it is essential to have a workforce educated in the latest cybersecurity practices and threats. But unfortunately, there is an ever-widening gap between the number of available positions and the qualified professionals to fill them.
However, there is still hope. Many organizations and educational institutions are taking steps to close the cybersecurity skills gap by offering specialized training and certifications. This is having a significant impact as more professionals are becoming certified in the latest cybersecurity techniques; painting a brighter future for the cybersecurity industry.
Understanding the Global Cybersecurity Skills Shortage and Its Risks
Technology is changing so fast that existing cybersecurity professionals, who have been doing the same job for years, may need to be equipped to handle some of the new challenges they face. And with the increasing complexity of digital technologies, organizations need help finding qualified people they can trust to secure their data and systems.
According to the Cyber Workforce Report, the global cybersecurity workforce needs to grow 65% to meet the current demand. Unfortunately, this statistic is paired with an equally daunting metric that shows 8 out of 10 organizations have suffered at least one breach that can be attributed to a lack of cybersecurity skills or awareness.
The risks associated with this shortage are numerous and can vary depending on the size and scope of your business. For instance, small businesses may not have access to proper security measures or personnel due to limited resources. As a result, they may be more vulnerable to attacks from outside sources.
Additionally, larger organizations may not have enough qualified personnel on staff, which could lead them to complacency when it comes to implementing robust security protocols and systems. This could open them up for potential attacks from sophisticated, malicious hackers or other bad actors.
An overall lack of awareness about cyber threats can lead companies to make bad decisions when it comes to protecting their assets, such as using outdated systems or failing to train employees properly on how best to protect themselves online. Each of these situations can leave them vulnerable even further down the road.
Without sufficiently skilled personnel, businesses face an increased risk of cyber attacks, data breaches, and other malicious activities. Furthermore, these risks can have long-term repercussions on customer trust, brand reputation, legal liabilities, financial losses, and more. In short, the lack of qualified personnel hinders business operations and can significantly threaten their long-term success.
Recruitment and Retention Challenges with Diversity Commitments
Recruiting is just one part of the equation. Once you have found qualified candidates, it is also important to retain them. Unfortunately, many employees feel unwelcome in certain work cultures due to bias or microaggressions that can create an uncomfortable atmosphere for different types of people.
To address this issue, some organizations have implemented unconscious bias training and cultural education sessions throughout their company, which can help employees become more aware of their own biases and how they interact with colleagues from different backgrounds. Additionally, companies should ensure that all employees feel included by creating opportunities for networking and career growth across departments so that everyone has access to the same resources regardless of background or position within the organization.
In addition to financial incentives, companies need to ensure they are doing their part to create an inclusive environment that values diversity and encourages growth. Fostering an inclusive workplace that embraces different cultures, genders, and backgrounds is key to successfully recruiting and retaining cybersecurity talent.
Among the challenges are recruiting women, new grads, and minorities, who are still underrepresented in the field. To address this issue, organizations need to do more than just pay lip service to diversity and inclusion initiatives — they need to take actionable steps to ensure their workforce is as diverse and qualified as possible.
It's important for businesses to actively recruit diverse candidates into the cyber discipline to enhance perspectives.. While many companies focus on recruiting experienced professionals from other industries or with computer science backgrounds, there are plenty of candidates with different repertoires who may possess valuable skills that could benefit your organization. For example, individuals with backgrounds in psychology or criminology can bring unique perspectives that could help enhance your security team's ability to identify potential threats and develop preventative measures against them.
Upskilling and Reskilling Through Training and Certifications
Obtaining specialized training and certifications is essential for those already in the cybersecurity field or for individuals looking to break into it. Cybersecurity certifications demonstrate that a professional is competent in their area of expertise and can be trusted with sensitive data.
There are plenty of opportunities available to upskill or re-skill through online courses, boot camps, and specialized programs. These types of training help individuals become more qualified for a position and increase their earning potential, as certified professionals are often compensated at higher rates.
Of course, while training and certifications can help close the cybersecurity skills gap, organizations must be committed to developing and investing in their cybersecurity initiatives. Implementing security protocols such as Privileged Access Management (PAM) solutions, Software Defined Perimeters (SDP), and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) can help organizations keep their systems secure and protect against modern-day threats.
Another great way to close the cybersecurity skills gap is through automation. Automation tools can be used to detect anomalous activity, monitor networks for malicious activity, and quickly respond to incidents. Organizations can reduce manual labor by leveraging automation tools while maintaining a robust security posture. Furthermore, these tools can help improve response times by providing real-time visibility into network traffic and alerting you when suspicious activity is detected.
With a comprehensive security approach, organizations can build the foundation they need to ensure best industry practices are being taught and adopted across their workforce. This approach is essential to close the cybersecurity skills gap and remain competitive in the industry.
Taking The Necessary Steps to Close The Gap
Closing the cybersecurity skills gap is essential for any organization looking to protect its data from internal and external threats alike. The good news is that there are a variety of strategies businesses can use to bridge this gap — from investing in existing personnel training programs and utilizing automation tools to considering non-traditional candidates when recruiting new talent. All of these initiatives help ensure organizations' security posture remains strong well into the future.
Author's Bio: Joseph Carson is a cybersecurity professional with more than 25 years’ experience in enterprise security and infrastructure. Currently, Carson is the Chief Security Scientist & Advisory CISO at Delinea. He is an active member of the cybersecurity community and a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). Carson is also a cybersecurity adviser to several governments, critical infrastructure organizations, and financial and transportation industries, and speaks at conferences globally.