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Outnumbered: Dissecting the Cybersecurity Workforce Shortage in Today’s Threat Landscape

With the rise in global cyberattacks, it is becoming difficult for organizations to find skilled professionals who can help them combat cybersecurity risks. The high demand for cybersecurity professionals over the past decade has led to a severe cybersecurity talent shortage. According to the 2020 (ISC)² Cybersecurity Workforce Study, the global unfilled cybersecurity job requirements are estimated to be 3.12 million.

Although businesses think of AI-powered security solutions to detect and prevent cyberattacks, they fail to realize that hackers can use this technology against them. Using AI automation and machine learning algorithms, hackers can employ more complex forms of attacks. Therefore, it is necessary to train and encourage more professionals to be more efficient at threat detection and help secure the business cyberspace.

What are the Main Reasons behind Cybersecurity Workforce Shortage?

The increasing complexity of cyberattacks has made it clear that proper cybersecurity measures and a dedicated team are required to handle any attack. According to experts, the dramatic increase in cyber risk, absence of skilled personnel, the younger generations’ reduced career interest in cybersecurity, and high employee turnover are causing this workforce crunch. In addition, the rapid digital transformation of operational services via web integrations has created vacancies even within the information technology positions.

Given below are some of the major causes of the cybersecurity workforce shortage:

  • Increased number of cyberattacks: Ransomware attacks or data breaches are a hard blow for any business. The mammoth repercussions of these cyber-attacks lead organizations to recruit cybersecurity professionals to safeguard their business. With the increase in sophisticated cyberattacks, the demand for cybersecurity professionals has skyrocketed.
  • Recruitment parameters: Businesses want experienced professionals for their cybersecurity teams—in other words, they are reluctant to hire fresh graduates. By considering the years of experience and certifications, businesses are overlooking talent. They are limiting themselves to a handful of options and having trouble hiring. Organizations fail to understand that cybersecurity is not solely about expertise with systems and tools; soft skills and a desire to learn and grow are equally important.
  • Lack of interest and training: Even as cyberattacks repeatedly make headlines, many people are still unaware or not interested in cybersecurity. Thus, the younger generation is not getting acquainted with cybersecurity until it’s too late. In addition, businesses often neglect training their employees on cybersecurity. They perceive hiring dedicated security resources as an easy option, thereby adding more strain to the overwhelmed labor market.
  • Lack of university education on cybersecurity: A report from CloudPassage showed that cybersecurity knowledge and skills were missing in graduate courses in the top ten computer science programs in the United States. This outdated approach could result in a huge skill gap and an inability to handle present-day cybersecurity issues. In addition, this lack of cybersecurity education manifests itself later in the industry in the form of a workforce shortage.
  • A limited number of women and other minorities in the workforce: Prevalent discrimination and lack of equal opportunity have turned away women and other minorities from selecting cybersecurity as their career. Research has shown that men are more likely to hold managerial positions in cybersecurity jobs. However, underrepresentation, a global pay gap, and stereotype-based discrimination discourage women from joining this industry, leading to the cybersecurity workforce gap.

Best Approaches to Reduce the Cybersecurity Workforce Shortage

Because limited resources are available, it has become more difficult for businesses to find the right person for security analysts, security architects, threat researchers, and more. Therefore, to tackle the workforce shortage issue, enterprises must work together.

Here are some ways to approach the cybersecurity workforce crisis:

  • Increase and improve cybersecurity education: Approaching the problem at its roots is a long-term solution to the cybersecurity workforce shortage. Educational institutions must keep up with the changing times and offer cybersecurity courses for students and working professionals. For example, the University of West Florida has introduced the “Cybersecurity for All” program to increase cybersecurity resilience and grow the cybersecurity workforce.
  • Attractive job offers: While cybercriminals are actively looking for exploitable vulnerabilities, they are also offering millions of dollars to recruit employees who are willing to sabotage their employers’ systems. Unfortunately, these insider threat actors often lack a fair salary in their industry. Moreover, the work of a cybersecurity professional requires alertness around the clock, with little to no holidays to spare. Therefore, businesses must offer cybersecurity professionals adequate incentives and a proper work-life balance to encourage the upcoming generation to select this as their career.
  • Invest in continuous cybersecurity awareness training: An efficient way to mitigate the workforce shortage is to train and reskill the existing workforce. In addition, there are many cybersecurity programs designed for IT professionals to upskill themselves and handle cybersecurity-related issues efficiently.
  • Include women and other minorities in the workforce: Women and other minorities constitute a mere 20% of the cybersecurity workforce. Therefore, enterprises must recognize and combat discriminatory hiring practices and actual diversity within the cybersecurity indIn addition, having a diverse workforce is an asset that will help enhance the industry’s problem-solving posture.
  • Enterprise-level initiatives: Offering various cybersecurity apprentice programs, public-private partnerships, educational partnerships, competitions, scholarships, and funds to help students develop cybersecurity careers can go a long way in reducing this critical workforce shortage.

Conclusion

Cyberattacks are a serious concern in today’s world. Security breaches can cause financial losses, loss of personal data, and damage to the reputation of businesses. To detect and prevent these attacks, companies require dedicated cybersecurity teams in their organization.

Business leaders and CEOs must establish a proactive security posture because of the unavailability of an immediate solution to the cybersecurity workforce shortage. To attract talented cybersecurity professionals, they can offer competitive salaries and additional benefits. However, in cases of a limited budget, hiring dedicated graduates with a strong desire to learn and grow will prove beneficial in the long run.