Bridging the Cyber Skills Gap for Small Businesses

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have encountered increasing burdens over the last few years, from challenging economic conditions to a dramatically evolving cyber threat landscape. Today, 43% of cyber attacks are targeted at SMEs, and only 14% of targeted SMEs were prepared to handle such attacks. An astonishing 75% of those SMEs attacked could result in permanent closure if unable to recover data.

Overall, small businesses are three times more likely than larger companies to be targeted by cybercriminals. Many of these challenges are a result of a lack of qualified cybersecurity professionals.

Why is there a cyber skills gap?

Today, the gap between the number of cyber security jobs in the US and the number of workers available to fill them is 466,225. And its estimated that only 3% of graduates are skilled in cyber security, equating to approximately 59,000 that could enter the cyber security workforce. This falls well short of meeting the demand. Why is the gap so large?

  1. A lack of formal and informal training

Although many universities, colleges, and trade schools have introduced cyber security curriculums in the past few years, the number of graduates is not keeping pace with demand. While organizations are willing to facilitate training programs, this requires revenue and time that small businesses might not have the budget for. And over half of the organizations that have implemented training programs believe their employees still lack vital knowledge.

  1. Wage and funding issues

Recent economic conditions have squeezed the budgets of small businesses. These shrinking funds have made it difficult to afford cybersecurity hiring and training. As a result, SMEs cannot keep up with salary expectations that larger organizations can afford. As a result, many are leaving for higher pay and SMEs continue to struggle to attract talent and retain talent.

  1. Stress and burnout

Around half of all cybersecurity professionals experience extreme stress or burnout, with 56% saying that their role has become more stressful each year. In addition, 54% reported a negative impact on mental health. Due to the stress of growing workloads, many cyber security professionals are leaving the field altogether – making the talent pool smaller and more difficult for SMEs to find skilled resources.

The impact of the cyber skills gap 

When organizations do not have the qualified cyber professionals they need, they are more vulnerable to cyberattacks. 80% of data breaches are caused by lack of cyber security and 52% of organizations question their current cyber security awareness programs.

These breaches can be a direct result of firewall misconfiguration, poor data storage, or a failure to detect and react to security incidents – 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 cyber attacks, the global cybersecurity workforce needs to grow by around 65%.

Small businesses can invest in firewalls, VPNs, and threat detection solutions to bolster cybersecurity, but technology is only as effective as those who use it. And security solutions must be managed by those who understand them and can use them correctly. So why are breaches still occurring?

Findings from a 2022 cyber security benchmarking survey by ThoughtLab, indicate that attacks will primarily be caused by software misconfigurations (49%), human error (40%), poor maintenance (40%), and unknown assets (30%). This is due to the lack of internal resources that are needed to perform necessary cyber security hygiene, regardless of the complexity of the security stack.

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. With experience securing sensitive networks at the NSA and the CIA, our cyber threat analyst 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. SME’s can now have enterprise-class cyber threat visibility while saving time and money on complex cyber threat feeds.

With CleanINTERNET®, the responsibility of threat hunting, detection, and remediation no longer falls solely on your security staff. CleanINTERNET® secures your business and saves you money by delivering threat monitoring, reducing false positives, minimizing log storage demands, and mitigating the need to recruit and retain expensive staff.

Learn more about CleanINTERNET® by contacting our team today.

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