The Cybersecurity Skills Shortage Continues to Worsen

An increasing number of cyber threats are exacerbated by the worsening cybersecurity skills shortage. Managed IT services are the solution.

The current cybersecurity skills shortage is nothing new. Industry leaders have long been concerned with the lack of qualified talent to help with the growing number of IT and cybersecurity issues across industries. In 2019, industry reports showed that 91% of organizations had holes in their cybersecurity staff. On top of that, two-thirds of those organizations failed to provide adequate training for the professionals they did hire, meaning that the current shortage statistics often don’t properly reflect existing staff’s insufficient skill levels.

Five years ago in 2015, there were nearly 210,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the United States alone. By 2021, that number is expected to grow to a staggering 3.5 million across the industry. This growing skills shortage combined with the ever-changing cyber threat landscape means that many members of understaffed IT teams are under more pressure than ever before.

 

The Cybersecurity Skills Shortage in 2020

A July 2020 report from the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) and Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) states that the cybersecurity skills gap has worsened for the fourth year in a row. According to the report, the gap affects 70% of all organizations—which is understandable, given how much of modern business is conducted in the digital sphere. Not only does the skills gap leave job openings unfilled and hinder productivity, it also creates an increased workload for existing staff. Furthermore, it results in an inability to utilize security technologies to the fullest extent, because staff are too busy putting out cybersecurity fires to learn how to prevent them in the first place.

Naturally, this cybersecurity skills shortage is taking a significant toll on the businesses it affects. It puts them at greater risk for security threats and potentially debilitating data breaches. On average, data breaches cost small and medium-sized businesses up to $3.86 million, while large enterprises face averages close to $350 million. Despite these dangers, businesses continue to struggle to fill out their cybersecurity staff.

 

Causes of the Continuing Skills Shortage

The main causes of the ever-widening cybersecurity skills gap are nothing new. One of the biggest issues is the lack of real career development opportunities within the cybersecurity field. Of all the cybersecurity professionals surveyed by ISSA/ESG, 68% said that cybersecurity lacks a well-defined career path, as well as the basic growth activities that can make the line of work more appealing. That includes a lack of opportunities to find mentors, to gain basic cybersecurity certifications, and even to take on cybersecurity internships that lead to joining a professional organization.

Because of the lack of a clear path into and within the field, many cybersecurity professionals begin in IT before finding themselves working in cybersecurity — usually without a complete skill set. The ISSA/ESG survey found that 76% of the respondents had begun their careers in IT before moving to cybersecurity, and that 63% of respondents had been working in cybersecurity for fewer than three years.

For those who are willing to face these challenges within the industry, another hurdle often arises when it comes to collaborating with business executives. Stemming back to a larger lack of cybersecurity education across industries, many on the business side tend to not understand the full role of IT and information security. As a result, cybersecurity professionals often also have to take on a large advocacy and educational role.

In 2020, a new cause is contributing to the cybersecurity skills shortage: the coronavirus pandemic. With lockdowns and social distancing measures forcing much of the population indoors, many of the already limited cybersecurity training opportunities open to individuals have come to a relative halt. To make matters worse, opportunistic hackers are taking advantage of the pandemic to increase their attacks. This inevitably leaves existing cybersecurity professionals—who are also adjusting to new remote working situations—feeling burned out. In an unfortunate cycle, burnout leaves more room for attacks, and more attacks in turn cause further burnout.

 

Confront the Skills Shortage with Managed IT Services

It’s clear that the cybersecurity skills shortage isn’t going to disappear any time soon. From the lack of available professionals to the high salaries those limited number of individuals can demand, it’s unrealistic for many organizations — especially small and mid-sized businesses — to be able to bridge the gap on their own. That’s where outsourcing to a managed IT services provider can be a game-changer, saving you money while keeping you more secure.

Turn-key Technologies, Inc. (TTI) is the perfect cybersecurity partner for you to bring on in 2020. With three decades of experience helping businesses deploy, manage, and secure their networks, TTI can help you fill your cybersecurity skills gap without having to hire for extremely expensive and in-demand IT roles. To learn more about how a partnership with TTI can help your businesses stay secure, contact us today.

In our next article, we’ll also take a look at the current state of women in tech to explore how closing the gender gap can help close the skills gap. Women remain underrepresented in the tech industry today, even as businesses desperately scramble to fill out their vacant IT positions. We’ll examine the lack of women through the lens of the cybersecurity skills shortage and look to find new solutions for modern business challenges.

By Craig Badrick

October 1, 2020

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