Why Certifications Are Critical in Cybersecurity

Despite the ongoing cybersecurity skills shortage, companies should only pursue cybersecurity professionals with the proper credentials.

The world of cybersecurity has come to be defined by constant change and growing complexity. From the proliferation of internet-connected devices, to rapidly mutating threats, to brand new networking technologies, today’s IT professionals must be prepared for just about anything.

And yet, despite the increasing importance of robust next-generation network security, the world faces a substantial shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals.

According to a recent McAfee survey, 82% of companies report a shortage of workers with satisfactory cybersecurity skill sets. Of these companies, 71% claim that this scarcity of sector-specific talent “does direct and measurable damage,” including a quarter who confirm that “insufficient cybersecurity staff strength has…led directly to the loss of proprietary data through a cyberattack.”

All told, 15% of cybersecurity positions are expected to remain unfilled through 2020, amounting to a workforce shortfall of between one and two million workers worldwide. Roughly 209,000 U.S. cybersecurity positions went unfilled in 2015 alone, a trend that is likely to persist unless significant changes are made.

However, as worrisome as this state of affairs may be, companies would be wise to remember that when it comes to cybersecurity, quality matters just as much, if not more than quantity. Rushing out and hiring the first person you interview just so you can fill a vacancy isn’t going to get you where you want to be.

Certifications: The Mark of a Cybersecurity Professional

So what, exactly, should companies look for in a cybersecurity professional — whether an in-house hire or a third-party partner? According to Jay Bavisi, the award-winning Founder and President of the International Council of Ecommerce Consultants, certifications, for a start.

“We live in a rapidly advancing world, where progress in technology often outpaces the speed at which we come to terms with it,” Bavisi told Government Technology. “In such chaos, quality skill-based certifications can offer stability…[A certification] not only builds a skill, but also offers a chance to showcase that skill to the world with evidence.”

A careful examination of McAfee’s data suggests that many companies tend to agree with Bavisi. While nearly half of the companies surveyed expect cybersecurity professionals to have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant technical subject, a much higher percentage believe that professional certifications and hands-on experience are more important.

This conclusion is borne out by the fact that a mere 23% of respondents think formal programs at colleges and universities adequately prepare students to enter the cybersecurity workforce. By way of comparison, 75% of respondents think professional certifications are “an effective way to demonstrate skills.”

For Bavisi, certifications represent the perfect “middle ground” between a formal education and an informal know-how that tech experts develop through experience in the wild and might display in events like hacking competitions. “We often hear a lot of debate [over] ‘college degree versus skill,’” says Bavisi, “and I believe skill-based certifications are a neutral answer.”

A Commitment to Documented Expertise

Ultimately, as InfoWorld columnist Roger A. Grimes puts it, “If you’re pursuing a career in IT security, certifications can only help you.” At Turn-key Technologies, our 27 years of industry experience are living proof of Grimes’ point.

Over the course of nearly three decades, we’ve managed to help countless companies in fields as diverse as educationhealthcare, and petrochemical production build networks that are as high-performing as they are secure. Each of these partnerships has required a slightly different set of skills, and we’ve accrued a wide range of certifications while deploying each one.

As the cybersecurity landscape continues to get more complex, the value of a comprehensive collection of professional certifications — both vendor-agnostic and vendor-specific — will only increase. Regardless of what changes come barrelling down the industry pipeline, we at Turn-key Technologies have the expertise necessary to help any company achieve and maintain top-notch cybersecurity.

By Craig Badrick


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