How to Win the Cybersecurity Talent Race

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Photo by Taskin Ashiq on Unsplash

By Eric Wise

The world is becoming more digitally connected. In the past decade, we have seen the rise of affordable and available cloud computing as well as smart devices interconnecting our work and home resulting in massive amounts of data being transmitted and collected. Modern businesses depend on their technology infrastructure to operate. Any disruption to a company’s tech systems carries substantial legal and financial risks.

Cybercriminal activity is the fastest growing crime globally. Advances in technology are allowing businesses to behave in sophisticated, automated ways while these same technologies are empowering cybercriminals to increase in size and sophistication at lower costs. Some estimates predict that by 2021 cybercrime damages will exceed the global trade of all illegal drugs.

A major contributing factor to the rise in cybercrime is not only the need to cost-effectively leverage technology at scale but also the ability for the perpetrators to go unnoticed. The rise of cryptocurrency has allowed cybercriminals to get paid anonymously, substantially reducing the risk of being caught. Hacking tools and kits that enable digital crimes such as malware, ransomware, and identify theft can be purchased online at price points less than a fast food value meal. The cost of entry into cybercrime is essentially cheaper than a burger, fries, and a soda.

Ransomware, in particular, has become the fastest growing type of cybercrime, prompting the US Department of Justice to describe it as “a new business model for cybercrime.” The FBI estimates that 100,000 computers a day around the world are infected by ransomware, which could account for $11.5B in losses in 2019 and is predicted to double by 2021.

The rapid rise in global cybercrime has exacerbated the current shortage of cybersecurity talent. According to the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), 69% of cybersecurity professionals believe their teams are understaffed, while 32% of organizations aren’t able to fill open positions for at least six months.

Data from Burning Glass Technologies, an analytics software company that provides real-time information on job growth and labor market trends, reveals that there were more than 496,000 cybersecurity job postings in 2018, up 33% from the prior year. In addition, according to the ISACA, 60% of cybersecurity professionals believe that only 50% or less of the applicants applying to open cybersecurity positions are qualified.

Two contributing factors to this dilemma are:

  1. skills are getting out of date faster
  2. traditional education programs struggle to keep up with developments in the industry.

The ongoing high demand for information and network security skills means that companies need to start looking for new ways to attract cybersecurity talent. According to Burning Glass, companies require specialized skills such as Python, Linux, and Java for both cybersecurity jobs and software development roles.

While consumer boot camps have the potential to be one source of junior cybersecurity talent, you need to start developing a cybersecurity career pathway for existing employees.

Stay tuned for our next post, which will reveal a comprehensive pathway of technical and non-technical education and training for an organization to be resilient in the face of cybersecurity threats.

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