How Can Businesses Help Close the Cybersecurity Skills Gap?

Every business, no matter its size or sector, has been impacted by the persistent lack of cybersecurity professionals. The cyber workforce gap is estimated at  2.72 million professionals, and (ISC)2 predicts that the global cyber workforce needs to grow by 65% to effectively protect organizations’ networks.

What is causing the cybersecurity skills gap? The reasons range from a lack of formal training and a negative perception towards security roles, to heightened stress levels within cyber teams. But no matter the reason, the cyber skills gap can be detrimental.

The impact of the cybersecurity skills gap

The gap directly weakens the cybersecurity posture of businesses, causing misconfigured systems, delayed patches, rushed deployments, insufficient risk assessments, and a general lack of threat awareness. These vulnerabilities make networks far more likely to be hit by cyberattacks, particularly when those attacks rely on human error. Over the last 12 months, 80% of organizations worldwide have experienced at least one breachthat can be directly attributed to an internal lack of cybersecurity skills. And 64% of these breaches resulted in the loss of revenue, recovery costs, or fines.

How are global governments bridging the cybersecurity skills gap?

With the cyber skills gap showing no sign of slowing, governments and education organizations around the world are stepping in. The US Department of Labor announced that it will partner with the White House and the US Department of Commerce to run a 120-day Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Sprint. The program aims to attract, train, and retain a diverse cybersecurity workforce that will be able to better protect the country’s critical national infrastructure and strengthen the economy.

(ISC)2 ‘s 100K in the UK initiative is also providing 100,000 UK residents access to its entry-level cybersecurity education and certification for free. Since the program’s launch, (ISC)2 has opened this initiative up to 1 million additional cyber career pursuers worldwide with the intention of forming new pathways for entrants into the field. In Australia, Microsoft has partnered with AustCyber to design a traineeship program that combines formal training with on-the-job experience. The program supports Australians of all ages and backgrounds who are looking to build a career in the cybersecurity industry.

While governing bodies are focusing on long-term education programs to attract and train the future workforce, it doesn’t provide immediate remediation for the issues being faced today. The techniques used by hackers are constantly evolving, and attacks grow in both number and sophistication every year. Therefore, even as we educate enough professionals to gradually fill the skills gap, their training will need to be constantly revisited and reassessed, at the time and expense of their employers.

What can your business do?

  1. Identify your own skills gap 


The first step in bridging the cyber skills gap is identifying what and where your problems are. By conducting activities like penetration testing, you can identify skills gaps and potential issues with existing employees who need to be upskilled or a lack of professionals in general.

  1. Improve awareness and education


While the most obvious way to patch these gaps is with recruitment, the scale of the talent shortage today means that hiring new positions can take time. Retaining existing staff should be equally as important to your business. To keep your networks protected from evolving cyber threats, continuous education and training is vital. Cybersecurity should be integrated into your entire organization, even among non-technical employees.

  1. Invest in the right tools


To help alleviate the burden of cybersecurity from human employees, find dedicated technology that automates or outsources cyber processes. After first establishing your needs and markers of success, find tools that cater to your vulnerabilities specifically, and use third-party expertise to augment your own cyber posture.

However simply throwing multiple, disparate cybersecurity tools into the mix won’t help. The average business now typically has between 20 and 70 cybersecurity solutions, and managing a software stack this complex often results in alert fatigue. Alert fatigue not only affects employee focus and causes an increase in missed cyber threats; it also heightens workplace stress, which leads to higher staff turnover. Avoid alert fatigue by ensuring that the tools you use are easy to manage and versatile, eliminating the need for multiple, overlapping technologies.

Learn how Walt & Company, a California-based PR Agency addressed their cyber skills gap through security awareness training and vulnerability testing. Watch below:


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