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Global Cybersecurity Skills Shortage – Why You Should Worry?

With a rapidly increasing amount of data getting stored online every day, cybercrime is experiencing exponential growth. As a result, most industries are growing concerned about the shortage of cybersecurity professionals that has become more acute than ever. This gap is posing an alarming, real-world impact across the globe with Asia-Pacific experiencing the biggest talent shortage – 2.15 million positions, a Cybersecurity Workforce Study by (ISC)2 revealed. This worldwide shortfall places companies at a huge risk of cyberattack. Recent estimates performed by Cybersecurity Ventures also revealed that there will be a whopping 3.5 million vacant positions in the cybersecurity domain by 2021.

Let’s have a look at why you should worry about this rising skills shortage in the domain of cybersecurity.

Why do you need cybersecurity?

For any company, its database containing confidential information related to its business policies, clients, business agreements, as well as financial and other transactional details, is its biggest asset. Malicious elements try to get access to such sensitive and confidential information by attacking a company’s different touchpoints – from websites and emails to social presence, apps and more. If you don’t invest in cybersecurity to protect this database, such information can be accessed and misused by unscrupulous elements.

To understand the impact of such attacks better, you can recall the incident in 2018 when sensitive documents from 100+ manufacturing companies (which included Ford, GM, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler etc) were exposed by storing them on a publicly accessible server. This exposure happened through a common file transfer protocol (rsync) of Level One Robotics (which offers industrial automation services). Large data sets were backed up using rsync. Though the big automakers involved in the incident probably had tight security protocols, a company within their supply chain (Level One Robotics) had a chink in its armor, which caused this exposure of confidential data. If you don’t want your data to be accessed and misused by nefarious elements, you must invest in proper cybersecurity measures.

Factors driving skills shortage

During the big developments in the IT domain over the last 20 years, organizations have hired system infrastructure experts, software developers and others to help them build and deliver an array of products and services. These employees were mainly focused on driving growth and user experience, but they weren’t security-minded in the true sense. As security breaches became more impactful and prevalent, organizations started hiring cybersecurity experts to offer their services coupled with security features. But demand soon outpaced supply. In addition, the industry failed to invest in long-term training, education and skills development in the domain of cybersecurity, which has now resulted in a massive skill shortage. What’s alarming is that this skill shortfall is predicted to touch the 3.5 million mark globally by 2021 as we’ve mentioned earlier.

What can you do?

Here are some things you can do to handle this skill shortfall while securing your database:

  • Use advanced modern technologies: Start using machine learning and AI as a helper application to consolidate, speed up and improve your security processes. You should also create an integrated SOAPA (security operations and analytics platform architecture) that allows you to use and manage security technology holistically instead of on a tool-by-tool basis.
  • Automate processes: It wasn’t long ago when manual intervention was needed in case of data breaches and other similar incidents. But cybersecurity programs powered by AI these days can be automated so that you no longer need customized human involvement. However, humans will still need to program and/or deploy these systems and monitor their processes. So, training your employees in addition to encouraging them to learn and implement newer concepts and technologies in the field of cybersecurity is equally important.
  • Plan for the future: Though meeting your present security needs may seem to be more pressing, not planning for the future could be costly. So, you should plan to divert some of your resources to cybersecurity research and IT teams, who can work proactively and plan ahead. Though this won’t be easy, it’s crucial – especially because of the ever-changing and rapid nature of the domain of cybersecurity.
  • Approach security the same way you do with portfolio management: Take stock of your people, their skills and limitations, and problems in managing them. Plan how best you can use your in-house talent (by making inter- or intra-department transfers, giving additional responsibility, allotting particular security operations and controls etc). In addition, simplify your security infrastructure, and involve third parties and/or managed security services to cut costs and handle the tasks efficiently.
  • Invest in your people: You can’t retain talent just with a fat pay packet. Raising their compensation can check your top talents’ massive attrition, but you need to take other steps too like giving them career growth, development, and networking opportunities, encouraging them to participate in security research, mentoring and training them in the domain etc.

The sooner you take these steps, the better positioned you will be in dealing with the global cybersecurity skills shortage.

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