How to Support Your Employees During the Cybersecurity Skills Shortage

As the IT skills gap continues to grow, enterprises must invest in their existing security teams to retain talent and keep their networks secure. 

Cybersecurity experts report that the average data breach can cost small and medium-sized businesses up to $3.86 million, with large enterprises facing averages close to $350 million. With digital transformation creating more and more vulnerabilities in enterprises, cyber attacks are more frequent, hackers are more sophisticated, and the cost of data breaches continue to skyrocket.

No one feels the weight of these numbers more than IT workers, who are tasked with the increasingly challenging responsibility of securing large-scale networks against a slew of determined cybercriminals. To make matters worse, the IT talent well is drying up.

Industry reports reveal that 91 percent of organizations have holes in their cybersecurity staff, and almost two-thirds of these organizations fail to provide an adequate level of training for the professionals they have hired. What’s more, recent reports estimate there will be as many as 3.5 million unfilled positions in the industry by 2021. In this climate, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for IT workers to keep up with increasingly savvy adversaries looking to exfiltrate enterprise data.

While it’s prudent for enterprises to hire for IT growth, filling out a cybersecurity roster can take months. To immediately begin improving cyber defenses, it’s advisable for enterprises to take time to invest in the IT workers they’ve already hired.

How Current IT Teams are Faring 

The pressing nature of cybersecurity coupled with the growing IT skills shortage means that members of understaffed IT teams are feeling more pressure than ever before. One of the most difficult aspects of IT jobs these days is staying abreast of new initiatives, like managing employee wearables, deploying IoT devices, and moving large workloads to cloud servers. These tasks — while challenging on their own — come with a glut of security concerns which 40 percent of IT workers struggle to manage.

The weight of these new security concerns is compounded by the pressure to keep up with a growing workload. As IT rosters thin, workloads rise, and there’s simply not enough talent to alleviate the burden. When workload volumes are at an all-time high, IT workers are more likely to fall prey to human error or be assigned to tasks that aren’t aligned with their skill sets. Unfortunately, cybersecurity is high-stakes work in which all of the above can directly result in more security breaches.

These workload pressures have created a burnout crisis in the IT world. Over half of IT workers report that they feel burned out in their jobs and need increased support. If CIOs don’t take action now, these issues will only become worse as workloads continue to multiply and employees begin to quit.

How Enterprises Can Support IT

Although enterprises can’t solve the problem by simply hiring more workers, they can help mitigate the stress of their existing IT teams with a few creative initiatives.

An advisable place to start is to provide ongoing training for IT workers. Cybersecurity is a rapidly changing landscape with new techniques and sophisticated malware being developed every day. The technical skills of 2016 will not hold up in 2020 and beyond. As such, CIOs need to make sure their IT workers are given the resources to continuously learn on the job, rather than taking on the stress of self-educating to stay on top of new security developments.

What’s more, training isn’t just important for IT workers — it’s key for non-IT workers to also have at least some semblance of technical literacy. 71 percent of IT workers report that they’ve had jobs where their employers didn’t understand the requirements of cybersecurity defenses and operations. Even worse, 23 percent of IT workers feel that their current business managers or enterprise executives don’t support the appropriate level of cybersecurity in their organization. Managers need to be aware of IT workloads to better support their employees and prevent them from becoming discouraged in the workplace.

It’s also vital that end-users understand common cybersecurity risks so they can understand how their behavior on a network might create vulnerabilities. After all — as experts continually emphasize — people are the weakest link in cybersecurity. Failure to train non-tech workers can become an occupational hazard for companies who expose themselves to hackers by failing to make employees aware of basic cyber attack tactics like phishing emails. To mitigate these concerns and relieve some stress from IT teams, it’s vital that CIOs provide basic training to non-technical employees.

Turn-key Support

Investing in these company-wide initiatives is an important but tricky task for CIOs. Training programs can be expensive, and scheduling company-wide sessions can be a logistical headache. These initiatives also require dedicated resources to evaluate their efficacy. And throughout it all, enterprises will still require immediate IT support to protect their networks. This is where Turn-key Technologies (TTI) can help.

TTI has three decades of experience helping businesses deploy, manage, and secure large-scale enterprise networks. With a wide array of managed services, we can help your enterprise fill the skills gap wherever needed. Finding adequate IT support is more challenging than ever, but a partnership with TTI can help ease the burden.

By Tony Ridzyowski

July 2, 2019

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