Cyber security skills gap grows to crisis

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9 August 2018 | 0

While the headlines on cyber security threats tend to focus on advanced persistent threats, sophisticated and targeted attacks and polymorphic malware, a new cyber security threat has been quietly bubbling away and growing worse by the day.

The lack of skilled cyber security professionals has been growing steadily worse over recent years, according to multiple sources. and presents as much of a threat as any hacker.

Research and strategy firm Enterprise Service Group (ESG) has conducted an annual global survey of IT decision makers over the last several years and has built a stark picture of the situation.

Respondents were asked if their organisation had a problematic shortage of cyber security skills. In 2014, the proportion who responded affirmatively was 23%, by 2015 this had risen to 25%, but jumped dramatically to 46% in 2016. It stabilised at 45% in 2017, but jumped again in 2018 to 51%.

The 2017 survey report said that nearly quarters (70%) of cyber security professionals claimed their organisation was impacted by the cyber security skills shortage, with ramifications such as an increased workload on existing cyber security staff, the need to hire and train junior personnel rather than experienced professionals, and all with the result of security teams spending the majority of time firefighting, leaving little time for training, planning, strategy, etc.

Furthermore, the Cybersecurity Jobs Report 2018-2021, by Cybersecurity Ventures, also illustrates a bleak future. According to the research and analyst firm, through review and synthesis of dozens of employment figures from the media, analysts, job boards, vendors, governments, and organisations globally, it has estimated the number of cybersecurity job openings over the next five years.

“We predict there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions by 2021,” says Cybersecurity Ventures.

This skills shortage represents a significant threat to businesses around the world, as over the same period as the gap has emerged, the world of cyber security has seen massive breaches, the application of new technologies to black hat activities and the emergence of nation state hackers and their proxies.

While large organisations struggle to identify and acquire skilled professionals for these roles, smaller or less technically informed businesses continue to flounder, becoming hapless victims of a global dearth of qualified cyber security professionals.

To help organisations tackle this situation Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet will hold an event entitled “Filling the Cybersecurity Skills Gap” at the IMI, Dublin on 3 October from 08:00 to 13:00, which will look at the threat landscape and how to tackle the skills gap that has emerged. The event will launch a new initiative called the Cybersecurity Skills Initiative (CSI) to attract new talent to the field, and brings together a broad coalition of industry, academic and government partners, led by Skillnet Ireland.

For more information email and see the September issue of TechPro Magazine.


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