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Lack of security skills exposing business to attack

The cyber skills shortage is leaving businesses at increased risk of attack as organisations continue to struggle to fill security-related positions, a survey shows

More than half (52%) of respondents to a social media poll by Infosecurity Europe 2019 believe the skills shortage puts their business at increased risk of cyber attacks.

A lack of skills is cited as the biggest challenge to recruiting cyber and information security talent by almost a third (30%) of respondents, followed by lack of recruitment budget (27%) and lack of interest in careers within the sector (26%).

The Twitter poll of more than 9,700 security professionals conducted in mid-March 2019 asked about the challenges presented by the increasing convergence of cyber and physical domains, and how security can be managed in a cohesive way.

“There are shortages of technical skills, particularly in SOC [security operations centre] analysis, threat intelligence, research, incident response and forensic investigation,” said Paul McKay, senior analyst at Forrester Research.

“This is a result of difficulty in filling entry-level roles, and keeping people interested once they’re there. At the top end, boards want CISOs [chief information security officers] to improve how they articulate business risk and manage the dynamics of how security can enhance the business strategy and vision. This requires commercial acumen and the so-called ‘soft skills’, which are actually the hardest to master,” he said.

While more than a quarter of respondents cited a lack of interest in an information security career as a major barrier to recruitment, 46% said they have found it difficult to encourage new talent into the sector. This makes it clear that attracting and retaining skilled individuals needs to be a priority.

David Boda, group head of information security at Camelot, said that businesses need to change how they approach recruitment. “Making the information security team visible to potential candidates helps attract those who are most in demand,” he said.

“This could be done by running meet-ups, contributing to the open source community or responsibly disclosing and publishing CVEs [Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures lists], for example.” 

A report by cyber security Ventures predicts that there will be up to 3.5 million unfilled information security positions in the industry by 2021.

Lisa Hamilton, Deloitte’s cyber security associate director, said that proactively building diverse teams is an imperative for the sector. “This will bring together individuals with their own perspectives to challenge and think about solving problems differently, which will benefit the cyber security industry,” she said.

“To do this, we need to be open-minded when sourcing talent, focusing less on pre-requisites and more on behaviours, characteristics and enthusiasm.”

Victoria Windsor, group content manager at Infosecurity Group, said it is becoming increasingly difficult to find skilled cyber security professionals, despite the fact that it is an exciting and stimulating field to work in with so many opportunities.

“We need to make sure that we, as an industry, do our best to get this message across. We will be addressing this issue at Infosecurity Europe 2019 by introducing FutureSec – a programme of sessions and events focused on the development of people, skills and careers,” she said.

“As new technologies and threats emerge, and business environments become more complex, the skillsets needed will evolve. Government, education and businesses need to acknowledge the cyber security skills gap and work on inspiring people to consider a career in the industry, while increasing inclusivity.

“Most importantly, the sector must address its own problem with strategies to recruit talent from a range of backgrounds and investments in training and education,” she added.

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