Addressing the Growing Skills Shortage in Cybersecurity Industry

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Addressing the Growing Skills Shortage in Cybersecurity Industry

Redefining who qualifies as a “cybersecurity professional” and reworking standard job descriptions are crucial to fill critical roles in cybersecurity and alleviate the skills shortage.

Watching the news in recent years — from the NotPetya to WannaCry ransomware outbreaks to the recent Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack — it’s clear that cybersecurity is one of the most serious topics today. Amateur hackers have evolved into full-fledged cybercriminals in the last two decades, stealing passwords and money from individuals and businesses all over the world.

Cybersecurity experts in both large and small businesses have been thrust into an unprecedented storm, dealing with some of the most difficult situations. Despite a persistent shortage of experienced cybersecurity workers, teams from the private and public sector are working hard to meet emerging challenges and defend their organizations.

As businesses accelerate their digital transformations, cloud adoption rises, digitally linked workforces disperse to remote offices, and the Internet of Things connects more devices and objects, cybersecurity professionals and engineers face difficult difficulties in protecting their assets.

Also Read: Securing the Enterprise against REvil-like Cyber-attacks

Cybersecurity skills shortage

Threat actors continue to adapt to this ever-evolving attack surface, according to Verizon’s “2021 Data Breach Investigations Report.” Meanwhile, the industry is dealing with another issue: a scarcity of cybersecurity professionals. The inability of organizations to respond to and mitigate threats is being hampered by a skills shortage. The global cybersecurity skills gap is estimated to reach more than 4 million people, according to the 2021 (ISC)² Cybersecurity Workforce Study.

Expanding and re-evaluating requirements for hiring and establishing apprenticeship programs and training for people who haven’t followed a traditional technology career path is one option to address the problem. Given the complexity and breadth of cybersecurity issues, diversifying the skill pool should be a key concern. While artificial intelligence and machine learning can help with many security challenges, there are some activities that can only be completed by humans. Working with seasoned veterans, young up-and-coming cyber defenders can contribute a fresh viewpoint while gaining vital on-the-job training as they begin their careers.

The industry has to rewrite job descriptions and break out from its traditional models of what a cybersecurity professional looks like. Another strategy to recruit great applicants is to prioritize actual experience over degrees. When assessing applications, businesses should look for unbridled curiosity, problem-solving skills, and the capacity to think outside the box.

Ultimately, cybersecurity is about protecting a company’s information assets, which includes the information of its employees and consumers. There are many professionals from various fields who wish to contribute to the creation of a safer digital environment.

Also Read: How to Defend Unknown Assets against Cyber attacks

What can organizations do to expand their talent pool?

Rethink their hiring strategy:  While several institutions have started to offer formal information security degree and certification programs, the sector is still young, and the talent pool is limited. Businesses should try using new, non-gender-biased language for job descriptions, concentrating on essential requirements rather than lengthy lists of technical specs, to extend that pipeline. Candidates with experience outside of the tech area should also be considered, as they will bring a fresh perspective and ideas to address cyber concerns.

Broaden diversity efforts: Because young girls aren’t encouraged to participate in technical courses or activities, the STEM gender gap begins early, and the sector loses a large number of potential female cyber defenders. In underserved minority communities, a similar gap exists. Businesses can collaborate with a variety of mentorship and development-focused organizations to help cultivate the diverse and equitable workforce they require.

Provide On-the-job training: Closing the cyber-skills gap and the opportunity gap for people who lack technical skills or a four-year degree requires up-skilling and re-skilling. Companies can build their security workforce from within by providing skill development and paid on-the-job training.

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