The Widening Cyber Security Skills Shortage

Adrian Adair, Operations Direction at Morson International, explains how the exponential growth of IT has transformed the cyber security industry and what this means for cyber security professionals.

As the world embraces technological change, cyber security should take precedent. But it hasn’t. What we’ve seen at Morson is a sheer lack of experienced cyber security professionals to fill an increasing number of positions, as cyber-crime becomes a daily occurrence. What’s apparent is the desperate need to train and recruit new cyber security personnel around the world, but this is proving difficult.

The imperative need to stop cyber-crime

Cyber security is fundamental in a world that is becoming more connected by the day. The exceptional growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) has increasingly left consumers at risk of security breaches, as provisions simply haven’t been put in place to offer protection. It’s easy to ask why we, as a society, are so wholly unprepared for this, but it’s all down to the timescale of technological advancements. Who would have thought that within a decade we would have the ability to buy products or services through the click of a button on our smartphone or to transfer funds from our bank almost instantaneously? These life-changing advancements in technology could not have been predicted, which answers the question of why there hasn’t been more forward-planning for the recruitment and training of cyber security professionals.

However, it’s not just consumers who are vulnerable to the hacker, it’s businesses too. For large organisations, the average cost of a cyber-attack is between a staggering £1.45 million - £3.14 million.  A successful cyber-attack on an organisation can have disastrous consequences, further highlighted by the 2013 Yahoo data breach. It was recently discovered that the full scope of the attack amounted to one billion compromised accounts, labelling it the world’s largest ever cyber-attack of consumer data. The hack is expected to affect the company’s sale price and negotiations with Venizon -  a small price to pay in a world where data is everything.

It comes as no surprise that cyber-attacks are becoming more frequent. According to a recent McAfee study, 82% of IT professionals report a shortage of cyber security professionals, while 71 percent state that this skills gap does direct and measurable damage. It is becoming ever more imperative that the skills shortage is resolved if we want to put a stop to cyber-crime.

How can we tackle the cyber security skills gap?

To fill the growing hole in our defences, we need to inspire a wealth of new cyber security recruits. At Morson, we’ve highlighted the prospects available in this industry on our Brave New World educational hub, in an attempt at galvanising a new generation of cyber security professionals.

Although education surrounding the industry is key, investment is ever more vital. The UK’s National Cyber Security strategy 2016 – 2021 highlights ambitious plans to ensure the UK has resilient means of protection. This includes strengthening cyber security skills by establishing a schools’ programme, supporting cyber security graduates and creating apprenticeships. Data and intelligence are our most valuable assets, and it’s time we started protecting them.

How could the skills shortage affect your cyber security job?

It’s clear that apprenticeships will help fill entry-level positions, but what should current cyber security workers expect from the sector? Experienced personnel can assume competitive salaries and added benefits, as organisations attempt to entice the most talented workers into new cyber security jobs.

The average cyber security salary is at least 2.5 times the average wage in the UK, with graduates expecting to start on a figure between £20,000 and £25,000. This will increase considerably with experience, and we can only assume it will advance further as we see a continuous demand for cyber security professionals.

There will also be opportunity for current cyber security professionals to progress in their career, as senior members of staff will need to manage low-level employees and growing departments. It’s clear that the industry offers a wealth of exciting prospects as it continues to grow in line with the latest technology developments. As a multi-faceted specialism, cyber security is also exceptionally broad; a positon can take you to differing sectors, from healthcare to finance, and around the world.

We can also expect upskilling to be a leading strategy for many cyber security employers. Keeping up with the advancements in technology means training current IT professionals. As hackers advance their attacks, it’s down to organisations to invest in their defences through regular training. Cyber security workers will need to be up-to-date with the latest vulnerabilities, techniques and technological improvements to be in with a chance of stopping the hacker.

As cyber security becomes ever more important in a digital reliant world, the industry offers a wealth of opportunities to enter the field, and a flourishing career ahead for current cyber security personnel. Although we can’t be sure of the next attack, we can guarantee that cyber security will continue to grow, offering a rewarding job in an expanding sector.

With your help, we could finally put a stop to cyber-crime.

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