The continuous rise in the number of cyber threats and attacks by hackers and online criminals is pushing the cybersecurity industry further forward. Considered to be the fastest growing tech sector in the world, the cybersecurity market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.6% from 2016 to 2021 and eventually reach US$202.36 billion by the end of the forecast period, according to a report by Markets and Markets.
Cybersecurity is now a growing concern and priority among businesses and institutions. In the 2016 US CEO Survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), 88% of CEOs in the US (and 61% of CEOs globally) suggests their concern for cyber threats. Despite the increasing number of cyber-attacks against companies and individuals, the biggest challenge that the industry faces is the huge gap between the demand for cybersecurity manpower and the available professionals in the job market.
Manpower shortage in the cybersecurity job market
The Cisco 2015 Annual Security Report estimates that there are one million unfilled cybersecurity jobs all over the world. Indeed Blog reported on the demand and supply of cybersecurity professionals in 10 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the UK and the US.
Israel tops the list of countries that has the highest demand for cybersecurity professionals. The demand for cybersecurity talent in Israel is 89.2% higher than in Ireland, which is at second place. It is 118.8% and 187.4% higher than in the UK and US, respectively, at third and fourth places.
However, the report also mentions a huge gap between employer demand and job seeker interest in these countries. Israel also tops the list of countries with a huge cybersecurity skills gap, with only 28.4% of employer demand being met by job seeker interest in cybersecurity roles. Only in 2 out of 10 countries does job seeker interest exceed 50% of employer demand. Job seeker interest in cybersecurity roles meets 66.7% and 68.1% of employer demands in the US and Canada, respectively.
Although the common trend points to a higher demand in cybersecurity professionals and a lower supply of interested job seekers, there are a handful of specializations in specific countries that show a surplus in job seeker interest. Interest in security administrator positions in Ireland, ethical hacker posts in the UK and US, and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) roles in the US far exceed the demands for professionals/employees in these countries.
Addressing the skills gap
The cybersecurity industry has made stop-gap measures to deal with the current issue of manpower shortage, according to Michael Xie, founder, President and Chief Technology Officer (CFO) of Fortinet – an American multinational corporation that develops cybersecurity software, appliances and services.
Other organizations are already attempting to create artificial intelligence (AI) to discover and respond to security threats, while some are developing machine learning and automation technologies to replace humans in analytical work and minimize the need for manpower in the deployment of security measures.
But Xie believes that these technologies will not be able to replace the human element, saying that the world will only suffer from poorly implemented cybersecurity measures that could lead to greater vulnerabilities and inefficiencies.
As employers continue to shift their focus and priority to cybersecurity, the demand for professionals in the industry will only continue to rise. However, there are some ways to address the skills gap/cybersecurity manpower gap:
- Finding talent through colleges offering cybersecurity programs
Partnering with universities and colleges that are offering cybersecurity-specific programs rather than just individual courses is a great way to look for and train future professionals. Creating internship programs with these universities and also providing hands-on field studies will allow companies to monitor the success of the students in their organizations and secure professionals for the future.
The Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts offers cross-disciplinary degrees in cybersecurity. It also offers scholarships for students who serve two or three years in federal, state and local government cybersecurity jobs. In addition, the university’s Research Institute for Homeland Security provides an opportunity for the students to solve real cybercrimes in the programs it offers.
- Looking to the government for support
Various government institutions are also looking for ways to make cybersecurity a top priority not just for public institutions and departments but also for private entities. For instance, the British government is driving cybersecurity innovation among small businesses and startups that want to provide cybersecurity solutions through its £250,000 “Cyber Safe” initiative called the “Early Stage Accelerator Programme”.
- Hiring third-party providers
Some organizations are turning to managed security service providers to outsource cybersecurity services instead of using an in-house team. By outsourcing the much-needed cybersecurity services, companies are able to focus more on their core business activities without compromising their organization’s network security and data privacy while saving on training and operational costs that usually come with an internal team.
Infinit Outsourcing, Inc. (Infinit-O) prides itself in providing quality Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) solutions that are on par with the highest standards and expectations to address the ever-growing challenges faced by today’s small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Infinit-O is constantly looking for innovative ways to help its clients grow their businesses through the latest technologies, processes, and trends.