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How to tackle the cyber security shortages challenges

by Heat Recruitment

We are now 22 years on from the birth of the Internet; in that time it has become an immeasurably important tool for both business and personal life. In 1995, just 1% of the world’s population was online but now it’s over 40% and at the time of writing this article there are 3.7 billion people using the internet.

We are in an increasingly connected world but one that is equally vulnerable to exploitation, with everything from the metrics our smart watches collect and the GPS data our phone records to the bank details that are stored online – all of which are readily accessible for those with the technical know-how to break through the security systems designed to prevent them from doing so; we have, of course, entered the realm of cyber security.

According to recently conducted global survey by Indeed, for every three cyber security jobs advertised there was only one person capable of filling the role. These findings are similar to those conducted elsewhere. The Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), for instance, predicted that by 2019 there will be a shortage of two million cyber security professionals globally.

So the question that is constantly being asked is how can the gap between supply and demand be met?

An obvious argument is the need to educate people on the very real dangers that come with being online; rather, the way in which people interact with various third parties online. Too many people regard the cyber threat as something that only happens to national and multi-national organisations, such as banks and telecoms companies. But everyone and anyone can be a target of cyber attack.

Then there is the argument that programming and coding skills need to be taught to children as young as five years old in a bid to develop the next generation of workers and provide them with the skills needed to plug the gaps that will exist in the future.

Of course, if companies cannot find cyber security professionals that are sorely needed they will be at increased risk from hackers looking to steal confidential data and disrupt services. This was the case with TalkTalk who reportedly suffered costs of £60 million as a result of a cyber attack, not to mention (some might say) irreparable damage to their reputation and brand. And it seems such attacks are not only increasing in frequency, they are doing so in terms of severity too.

In May 2017, a worldwide cyber attack with the name ‘WannaCry’ targeted computers running Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Within a day of releasing the virus over people in over 150 countries were reporting to have been infected.

The virus itself was relatively simple, but had a devastating effect to the computers infected with many businesses hit including the NHS. The media attention given to this one attack alone highlighted not just the limited services the NHS was able to provide until the virus had been dealt with but also its vulnerability to such attacks.

With incidences like this, one can see why there is such a high demand for cyber security professionals. But there is also the question of ‘image’ that needs to be addressed too – a rebrand, as it were, may be needed to attract people into the profession.

Indeed, with the rise of titan companies such as Google and Facebook Tech now becoming ‘sexy’, why can’t that also be the case for cyber security? It’s an enormous job that is hugely sought after, but currently there is a stigma to ‘nerd culture’. Yet, these are the people with the skills and passion for technology that should be encouraged and nurtured.

So the question that should also be asked: Are the jobs appealing to the type of people that these companies are looking to hire? Currently someone with the necessary skillset can afford to be picky with who they choose to work for. Are they paying enough? Do they come with good enough benefits? Will the job benefit the employee?

Cyber security will always be an important issue for people and businesses alike. As networks continue to expand, cyber security breaches are likely to increase and there will always be a need for professionals that have the skill set to protect and educate companies on the dangers of black hat hackers.

Check out our ultimate guide to IT here.