The demand for cybersecurity and IT job positions is growing at an unprecedented rate, with companies struggling to keep up. In today's world, where valuable and private data and information are the lifeblood of any enterprise, finding and retaining specialty talent in cybersecurity has become critical.
According to the fifth annual (ISC)² Cybersecurity Workforce Study, the global cybersecurity workforce is expected to grow to 4.7 million in 2022, which represents an increase of 11.1% over the previous year. However, this increase is not enough to fill the growing gap, which now stands at 464,000 more jobs. This gap has increased by 26.2% year-over-year and is especially severe in the aerospace, government, education, insurance, and transportation sectors.
The (ISC)² study found that nearly 70% of cybersecurity workers feel that their organization does not have enough staff to be effective. This talent shortage is threatening the most foundational functions of the profession, such as risk assessment, oversight, and critical systems patching. More than half of the employees at organizations with workforce shortages believe that their company is at moderate or extreme risk of a cyberattack. Adding to the talent gap, the number of cybersecurity attacks companies face each year is also growing. According to Accenture's State of Cybersecurity Report 2021, the average number of cybersecurity attacks per year rose by 31% from 2020 to 2021, with companies falling victim to an average of 29 attacks last year. The (ISC)² study notes that cyberattacks have become more prevalent in a year of "geo-political and macroeconomic turbulence," citing the Russian cyberattacks on the Ukrainian government at the beginning of the war as one of the major events.
On top of it the pandemic changed the world profoundly, shifting the global workforce rapidly to the online world. With billions of people abruptly transitioning to remote work, employees were forced to adopt a wide array of unfamiliar IT tools and applications. This digital transformation also presents an unparalleled opportunity for cybercriminals, who are taking advantage of the massive expansion in the threat landscape to launch a devastating barrage of cyberattacks, creating an unprecedented escalation in online security threats.
Although more than 464,000 workers were added in the past year, the cybersecurity workforce gap has grown more than twice as much as the workforce.
In the fast-paced world of cybersecurity, the threat landscape is constantly evolving, and bad actors are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their attacks. This has created a dire need for knowledgeable candidates who can keep up with the changes in technology. However, despite the growing number of digital jobs, the industry is facing a critical shortage of qualified candidates to fill these positions.
One of the biggest obstacles in closing the talent gap is the unobtainable standards set for entry-level employees. Many job postings require new hires to possess advanced certifications like the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or Certified Information Security Manager (CISM). While these certifications are valuable, the prerequisites for taking the exams include several years of job experience and are expensive and difficult to pass on the first attempt. Furthermore, those who do obtain these certifications tend to apply for higher-level positions rather than entry-level ones.
This approach has inadvertently barred many potential cybersecurity professionals from entering the field at the start of their careers. With so few qualified candidates available, it's crucial to find new ways to identify and train individuals who possess the necessary skills and aptitude for the job. The industry needs to be more inclusive and find innovative approaches to bridge the talent gap and meet the urgent demand for qualified cybersecurity professionals.
The delicacy of digital assets demands a higher level of technical expertise, particularly for entry-level jobs. Aspiring candidates need to demonstrate proficiency in various programming languages, including Java, Golang, Python, and C++, alongside a thorough understanding of Linux, intrusion detection, and risk assessment. These are just a few of the many skill sets required.
In today's digital landscape, most organizations rely on a complex web of 45 to 75 security tools to safeguard their valuable data and information. While these tools are essential, they generate a daunting number of logs and security alerts every day, often numbering in the thousands.
Analyzing and investigating each of these alerts requires individuals with the right education, experience, and expertise to make quick, informed decisions and take swift action when needed. However, as the cybersecurity threat landscape becomes increasingly complex, the pool of candidates with the necessary skills and experience to mitigate these challenges is limited, and finding a qualified candidate for an open position is often a stroke of luck.
Furthermore, as cybersecurity workers are aware of their high demand, qualified candidates demand high salaries, and in today's market, whoever is willing to pay more will win the talent race. This presents a significant challenge for organizations seeking to fill multiple positions simultaneously with highly specialized experts while remaining on a budget. The reality is that many organizations struggle to fill the gaps in their cybersecurity teams. Even though organizations invest in certain security systems, often no one is available to react to critical alerts, leaving the organization vulnerable to cyberattacks and other security breaches.
Addressing the cybersecurity skills shortage requires a multi-pronged approach; we need to train and educate both junior and senior candidates, invest in new technology that can automatize some of the tasks, and possibly lower entry-level requirements.
As organizations continue to grapple with the shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals, the question arises: how can we get the job done while being understaffed? One solution may lie in next-level automation that blends artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and behavioral analytics. This powerful combination eliminates the need for specialized technology skills and certifications, freeing up human resources to improve security posture.
However, the shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals cannot be ignored. A comprehensive approach that includes investment in education and training, offering competitive salaries, and automating processes can help address the shortage and better protect against cyberthreats. The time has come for businesses to step up and secure their systems and data by putting the right people and systems in place.
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