Andy Hague


Has the cybersecurity skills gap left you vulnerable?

The cybersecurity skills gap is presenting an ever-greater problem for IT teams, and the labour shortage looks unlikely to reach a speedy resolution. Many businesses have found themselves in an unworkable situation, unable to attract new talent due to salary demands and struggling to retain their current workforce because of market competition.

However, while this represents an unfortunate economic situation for many organisations, has it also negatively impacted their security?

The current situation

The third annual global study of cybersecurity professionals by the Information Systems Security Association and the Enterprise Strategy Group confirmed that the skills shortage is the root cause of the growing number of security incidents today. The report found that 48% of respondents had suffered a serious incident in the last two years, and a remarkable 91% believe that businesses are vulnerable to attack as a result of the skills shortage.

Larger organisations have fared a little bitter. Their deeper pockets have allowed them to set the market value for cyber security positions and thus hire and retain the necessary talent required to protect themselves. At least, for now.

However, this current approach to cyber security looks unsustainable for several reasons. For one, the skills gap is widening, and the number of open positions is increasing. This will serve to introduce an even greater level of inequality into the current cyber skills landscape, ultimately making a larger number of organisations open to exploitation.

Secondly, as the digital world continues to expand, connectivity becomes yet more pervasive and cyberthreats continue to evolve, the number of professionals needed for these positions will increase. The upshot is that many businesses will find themselves without the necessary security skills and, therefore, a prime target for malicious actors.

The human cost

Existing professionals are also struggling on a personal level, with stress and burnout becoming commonplace within the wider field of cybersecurity. According to a report from Symantec, 48% of cybersecurity leaders from the UK, Germany, and France feel that they are falling behind the curve and struggling to keep up with the growing demands put upon them.

Many cybersecurity professionals already feel as though they are outmanned and outgunned by cyberthreats, but the increased pressure from feeling as though they are falling behind is taking a huge toll. The report found that an astonishing 82% of respondents felt burned out from stress, 64% are contemplating leaving their jobs, and 63% are considering leaving the industry altogether.

We find ourselves in a situation with a growing demand for security skills and a workforce which is not only struggling to keep up but one that, if we’re not careful, could easily begin to shrink. With all of these elements in play, it’s easy to imagine how the cybersecurity skills gap could lead to a world in which almost no business is completely protected from cyber threats.

What’s the solution?

Fortunately, there are several measures you can take to ease the burden on your security team while helping to protect your business. You can encourage cybersecurity best practices throughout your organisation via staff education, nurturing a culture of security in which everyone takes some responsibility for data protection. Security professionals shouldn’t have to spend their days dealing with poor or exposed passwords and bad phishing attempts. This wouldn’t address the underlying causes of the problem, but It can help to limit the workload of your security personnel.

Additionally, in order to relieve stress and burnout, you can reassess your cybersecurity practices. Is there anything you’re doing that might not be necessary? You may assume that you will need the shiniest and most advanced hardware, software, and processes to keep your business secure, but this isn’t always the case. Build a cyber strategy that prioritises key threats to your business to keep costs down and focus employees on the jobs that matter.

An alternative measure is to consider entering into a cybersecurity partnership. Working with an expert cybersecurity partner enables you to bring a wide array of knowledge and skills into your IT team, tailored to suit needs of your organisation and ensuring that it is protected in the right way from any external threats.

Working with a cybersecurity partner ensures that, whether you’re looking to completely redesign your security strategy or you’re in need of a specific security product or service, you will have access to it in a way that works for you.

For an in-depth look at what you can do to ensure your business is safe in the midst of the cybersecurity skills gap, be sure to read our whitepaper ‘Solving the Cyber Skills Crunch: A New Model for Cybersecurity’.

Other resources

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