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How can the cybersecurity skill gap be bridged?

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s the dependency on digital technology in the business sector grows, so does the risk of cyberattacks. A cyberattack can have devastating consequences for a business. A business might lose access to systems and software programs required to conduct day-to-day tasks or lose crucial and confidential company data. Private data associated with a company's customers can also be stolen and used for all sorts of illegal purposes. Companies that store identifying information of their customers have the legal obligation to protect it, failing to do so might result in large-scale legal consequences.

Additionally, if a company suffers a data breach, customers’ confidence in the brand quickly begins to fade. To put it simply, a single cyberattack can prove to be terminal for a business. Therefore, it is no surprise that cybersecurity is gradually becoming a top priority for firms worldwide. Cybersecurity is a field that offers well-paid salaries, a fast-paced work environment and jobs in a diverse variety of sectors.

Cybersecurity skills make a person eligible to work anywhere as every organisation, be it private or public, requires a competent network of cybersecurity officers. Even though companies are ready to offer hefty salaries to cybersecurity professionals, there's still a staggering lack of cybersecurity professionals in the market. Let's dig deeper to understand the reasons behind the astonishing cybersecurity skill gap in the market.

What are the primary skills required for a successful career in the cybersecurity domain?

A cybersecurity professional must be accountable, dependable, and technically proficient. They usually have big responsibilities on their shoulders as entire companies rely on their expertise to protect their valuable digital assets. Cybersecurity is a highly skill-oriented domain and candidates are usually required to have a multitude of skills. Here are some of the most sought-after cybersecurity skills:

Problem-Solving

A cybersecurity professional utilises their problem-solving and creative thinking skills regularly. There are new challenges that they must find solutions to every day. Everything from designing plans to prevent cyberattacks to working on damage control requires effective problem-solving skills. Moreover, they have to address security concerns on existing technology systems as well as the emerging ones.

Technical proficiency

As it is a technology-focused domain, cybersecurity requires extremely technology savvy candidates. A cybersecurity professional has to work across a large number of technologies and guide others on how to use them safely.

Passion for consistent and continued learning

Cybersecurity is a domain, much like digital technology, that is perpetually evolving. There are new technologies and innovations introduced to the market almost every day. There are also new kinds of cyber threats evolving at a rapid rate meaning that the candidates should have the desire to continue learning and growing.

Communication and interpersonal skills

On the surface, it may seem like computer forensics and hacking knowledge is all that a successful cybersecurity professional really requires, but on a deeper level, the job also requires many social abilities. This is because a cybersecurity professional has to collaborate and coordinate with a number of departments and people regularly. Therefore, they must know how to communicate effectively and work with other people.

Attention to detail

Defending an organisation against growing cyber threats is no run-of-the-mill task. For effective protection, a cybersecurity professional not only has to be thorough, comprehensive, and systematic in their approach, but also detail-oriented and meticulous, as even a single oversight can have far-reaching consequences. Hackers are skilled in exploiting even the most minor of vulnerabilities in an IT system. A single password for multiple websites or outdated software are just some of the small mistakes that can lea to a full-blown cyberattack. 

What is meant by the cybersecurity skill gap? 

In the simplest of terms, the cybersecurity skill gap means that there's a lack of cybersecurity professionals on the market at the moment. There are more jobs than qualified people available to do them. As per the data from the (ISC)2, there are currently over 4.07 million unfilled cybersecurity positions across the world. This is despite the field offering high entry-level salaries, reliable job security and ample career progression opportunities.

HDI Global report that the US currently houses around 800,000 cybersecurity professionals, the UK 289,000, and Germany133,000. The demand for additional cybersecurity professionals is the highest in the Asia Pacific Region, which may require a dazzling number of 2.6 million cybersecurity professionals in the coming years. With over 1 million cybersecurity specialists required, North and South America follow closely. Whereas Europe has 300,000 unfilled cybersecurity-related jobs. These stats clearly show that the cybersecurity skill gap is widespread throughout the world.

Why does the cybersecurity skill gap exist?

There's no secret that a cybersecurity job comes with a lot of responsibility. A cybersecurity professional has to be able to work effectively under pressure, lead and direct people, have immaculate computational skills and have the desire to keep learning about new technologies and cybersecurity practices. It can be a lot to handle, and perhaps that's one of the factors that deter young people from considering a career in cybersecurity.

In a survey that The Denver Post conducted among millennials, it was found that even though the majority of young aspirants want to pursue a career in computer science, only a small minority of 9% showed an interest in a career in cybersecurity. One of the biggest reasons for the lack of interest in pursuing a career in cybersecurity is the lack of exposure to the field and the understanding of exactly how much it has to offer. Moreover, there's the misconception that cybersecurity is merely a sub-division of the field of computer science and not a sperate industry in its own right. In addition to this, most computer science courses only cover the basics of cybersecurity, and most job listings require additional certifications in order to be considered.

How to address the cybersecurity skill gap? 

Cybersecurity is critical to enterprises in today's digital age, therefore, it's no wonder that companies only want the most experienced and skilled professionals to work for them. This in turn leads to a lot of difficulty for driven and motivated, but inexperienced, cybersecurity aspirants who find it hard to secure jobs in the cybersecurity domain.

The (ISC)² has outlined four useful strategies for businesses to build competent cybersecurity teams. The first is to be appealing to cybersecurity professionals and try to fulfil their expectations. Secondly, job listings should be carefully designed to ensure the chances of missing out on promising undiscovered talent are minimal. The third strategy says young cybersecurity talent should be hired, and their skills should be developed and enhanced via in-house training.

The last strategy suggests that companies assess their own teams and evaluate their employees' capabilities to find cybersecurity talent from within their organisations. Many tech professionals may possess the potential to become competent cybersecurity specialists if given some training. Companies should also not ignore self-taught, code-school candidates due to their lack of a degree, as such candidates haves hown themselves to excel in the field of cybersecurity. 

Conclusion

In this environment, where there's a dearth of cybersecurity talent, companies need to value skills more than degrees. This change is already underway as more companies have begun to accept candidates for cybersecurity roles who do not have a cybersecurity-related degree. Today, we need to realise that industry-specific courses are more effective as they help candidates establish a clear academic understanding of the field but also aid them in developing the necessary soft skills for a career in cybersecurity.

The cybersecurity skill gap is a crisis requiring companies to loosen their restrictions and to open doors for young promising talent. However, if your company is still finding it hard to develop an in-house cybersecurity team, you can also rely on the services of trusted third-party vendors.

We at Gemraj Technologies Ltd are one such cybersecurity and IT solutions provider that boasts a team of experienced cybersecurity experts that can lend your company the required help to strengthen your security. In addition to this, we also offer all-inclusive cybersecurity services ranging from corporate cybersecurity, network monitoring, security operations and risk assessments.

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