Bridging the Cyber Skills Gap for Small Businesses

The past few years have brought about some major changes in the way small businesses work. The rapid shift to remote or hybrid work, and subsequent adoption of cloud applications, has expanded small businesses’ threat landscape. Almost half (43%) of all data breaches now target SMBs (small and midsize businesses), with hackers looking to exploit their limited budgets, smaller IT teams, and decentralized remote employee networks. For small businesses, it’s clear that many of these challenges are directly related to a lack of qualified cybersecurity professionals. Unfilled cybersecurity jobs grew from 1 million to 3.5 million in the past eight years, and this gap is only increasing.

Why is there a cyber skills gap?

A 2022 survey by Fortinet indicated that 60% of global leaders struggle to recruit cybersecurity talent, 52% struggle to retain their cyber staff, and 67% agree that this shortage creates additional risk for their organizations. Why has this gap been growing larger?

  1. A lack of formal and informal training

The vast majority (95%) of business leaders believe that tech-focused certifications positively impact cyber teams. But while 81% of companies prefer to hire people with certifications, 78% say they can be difficult to find. This is mostly due to the rapid rate of change in the cybersecurity field, which evolves faster than professionals can obtain certifications and experience. While organizations are willing to facilitate training programs, this requires revenue and time that small businesses might not have. And over half of the organizations that have implemented training programs believe that their employees still lack vital knowledge.

  1. Wage and funding issues 

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent recovery efforts have squeezed the budgets of small businesses. These shrinking funds have made it difficult for them to fund cybersecurity training and hiring. A quarter of small businesses have been forced to spend less on cybersecurity since the outbreak of the pandemic, and this extends to wages for their employees. 61% of CISOs and security specialists’ salaries have stayed the same during the past year. If pay continues to stagnate, it may become even harder to attract and retain cyber talent.

  1. Stress and burnout

Around half of all cybersecurity professionals experience extreme stress or burnout, with 65% saying they have considered leaving their job because of job stress. With the stress of growing workloads forcing professionals to leave their jobs or the field altogether, the talent pool for small businesses to draw from is becoming even smaller.

The impact of the cyber skills gap 

Where organizations don’t have the qualified cyber professionals they need, they’re more vulnerable to cyberattacks. 80% of security professionals have experienced at least one breach that was attributed to a lack of cybersecurity skills or awareness, with 64% of these breaches resulting in loss of revenue, recovery costs, or fines.

These breaches can be a direct result of firewall misconfiguration, poor data storage, or a failure to detect and react to malware; all issues that could be avoided with fully-trained and fully-formed cybersecurity teams. Additionally, only a third of businesses were found to have more advanced cybersecurity skills like forensic analysis and penetration testing. Research by (ISC)² revealed that in order to effectively protect their networks against a growing array of cyberattacks, the global cybersecurity workforce needs to grow by around 65%.

Small businesses can invest in firewalls, VPNs, and threat detection solutions in an effort to bolster cybersecurity. But technology is only as effective as those who use it. And security solutions have to be managed by those who understand them and can use them correctly.

How small businesses can overcome the cyber skills gap

At Centripetal, we employ a team of highly trained analysts to act as an extension of your overburdened team. This ensures that the responsibility of threat hunting, detection, and remediation no longer falls solely on your security staff. With experience securing sensitive networks at the DoD, the NSA, the CIA, and the White House, our team delivers the skills you need to realize your cybersecurity initiatives. Our service, CleanINTERNET, aggregates over 3,500 cyber threat feeds to proactively shield against 99% of known cyber threats. This way, we provide enterprise-class cyber threat visibility to small and midsize businesses, while saving millions of dollars on separate cyber threat feeds. By creating a Zero Trust environment, CleanINTERNET improves your cyber security posture and alleviates the burden of recruiting and retention.

Find out more about CleanINTERNET and its uses in small business networks by getting in touch with our team

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