Cyber Security Talent – A Critical National Priority
January 2021 by SecurityHQ
The cyber security industry is currently facing a monumental shortfall in security professionals. There is a lack of capable, fresh, new talent within the industry. Talent that is vital to uphold national cyber defence capabilities.
In the latest (ISC)2 report from the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, it is stated that the cyber security sector suffered a shortage of 4.07 million during 2019. Now at 3.12 million, the industry comprises of 700,000 security professionals. The ISC has put this skill shortage down to an ‘uncertain demand due to the economic impact of Covid-19’. Not only are existing cyber security professionals stretched, but the industry needs to grow by ‘89% worldwide and 41% in the US to fill the talent gap’ says the ISC. The report goes on to highlight that, amidst a need of professionals, current security teams are also at risk, as cuts are made in a bid to shave down IT departments amidst the ambiguity of remote working. Leaving companies more vulnerable than they may realise.
‘65% of organizations report a shortage of cybersecurity staff; a lack of skilled/experienced cybersecurity personnel is the top job concern among respondents (36%)’ - ISC
A Critical National Priority
Right now, cyber security, and the teams supporting it, can mean the difference between the collapse of a hospital, a power station crisis, or the distribution of fake or distorted global news. Each of these attacks can cause untold damage. Sometimes even death, as a consequence of corrupt systems preventing employees, including medical staff, doing their jobs. Security is a critical National Priority. Especially in the midst of COVID-19, where vital research regarding treatment and vaccines needs to be protected.
But, while there may be a shortage right now, digital infrastructure is also a high priority, which means that in the long run, job security in cyber looks highly promising. According to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ‘cybersecurity jobs are among the fastest-growing career areas nationally.’ Infact, they argue that jobs in cyber security ‘will grow 31% through 2029, over seven times faster than the national average job growth of 4%.’
With that in mind, for students contemplating options for further education amidst the disruption caused by COVID-19, the wide pool of opportunities available through a cyber security degree is an enticing prospect.
The skills learnt within cyber security include, and are by no means limited to, data analysis, data programming and scripting, networking, system administration, the analysis and exploration of cyber threats and cyber defence, computer science and software development, cryptocurrency, legal/ethics and compliance, and much more. By studying cyber security, and acquiring the necessary industry skills, a variety of other occupations are also made available. Occupations including digital forensic investigator, software developer, systems engineers and so on, also become a possibility. In addition, many cyber security university courses offer a foundation level for students that have not had much previous exposure. Meaning that those with a less technical background still have the opportunity to embark on a career in cyber.
‘In terms of the skills employers are looking for, cloud computing security emerged as the most in-demand skillset. However, just 49% of those working in the industry hold degrees in computer and information sciences, suggesting that it is common to retrain or move over from another industry.’ - (Ellen Daniel, Verdict)
Euan is SecurityHQ’s latest intern. For Euan, cyber security has frequently taken centre stage, even within subjects not typically associated with the field. And, as someone looking to enter cyber security without formerly pursuing IT or computer science at GCSE or A-level, the options at foundation level provides more flexibility than other topics, topics that often require a narrower field of study.
Euan, what benefits are enticing you towards a career in cyber?
Euan: “High-Growth, High-Reward. The growth of the industry shows that jobs within the field are likely to be future proof. Which, in turn, allows the degree holder a certain amount of job security. In addition, the topic areas covered within Cyber security are often transferable to other areas of computing and IT. This offers an advantage over other degrees with the flexibility to re-train and provide exploration into different areas of computing and IT. The ability to change crafts is a useful option in employment, as people adapt to new ways of living and uncertainty throughout 2021.
Overall, the high growth of cyber security, as well as investment from university’s make a cyber security degree an enticing option given the demand for cyber security and the rate of employment within the industry. Many of the skills offered in a cyber security course are transferable, with personal examples including my current studies in geography and business with the skills and knowledge being transferred. The flexibility that comes with this industry, means that other avenues are an option as well.”
What other benefits do you see going into cyber?
Euan: “According to .GOV’s recent report, ‘The UK’s cyber security industry alone, is worth an estimated £8.3 billion.’ Infact, the report even says that between the years 2016-19 the total investment identified within the cyber security sector ‘has exceeded £1.1 billion, demonstrating how confidence has grown in the industry.’ And Gartner argues that ‘Worldwide spending on cybersecurity is going to reach $133.7 billion in 2022’. This prediction was made before the development of COVID-19 and, with it, the increase in technology and remote working measures. It is, therefore, realistic to say that this number will in actuality be higher.”
The ISC report also argues that job satisfaction rates within the industry increase every year. ‘75% of respondents saying they are either “somewhat” or “very” satisfied with their job.’