Is cybersecurity s most glaring issue a lack of talent

Posted on Dec 14, 2015

In a field dedicated to preventing hackers from breaching defenses and keeping digital assets safe, it's not surprising there are a lot of risks that need to be managed. However, the biggest challenge facing the cybersecurity industry as a whole isn't a specific virus, black hat hacker group or new form of DDoS attack, but a lack of qualified professionals in the field. This issue has the potential to seriously hamper cybersecurity efforts, simply due to a lack of educated and available staff. It's important for individual businesses to take this lack of qualified talent into account when planning recruiting and digital infrastructure efforts, and for the public and private sectors as a whole to consider what the shortage means for the future.

A major cybersecurity staffing issue
One of the major issues for cybersecurity staffing is the explosive growth of the field. While the Internet has existed for many decades, businesses haven't taken full advantage of the Web - nor stored so much sensitive data on it - until more recent times. The development of e-commerce, cloud storage and a variety of other functional innovations have stretched the definitions of cybersecurity as well. The rapid growth of the Internet as a business tool outstripped the ability of companies, governments and educators to recognize a growing need for security experts, and organizations in the public and private sectors are currently contending with the consequences.

"The U.S. and many other countries struggle to
fill cybersecurity openings for both private businesses and government agencies."

A widespread deficit
Fortune recently examined the lack of available staff in the cybersecurity field and found it to be a very widespread issue, with no particular type of business or specific cybersecurity position standing out. The problem is also prevalent across the globe, with the U.S. and many other countries unable to fill openings for both private businesses and government agencies.

David Wajsgras, president of Raytheon's Intelligence, Information and Services division, told Fortune that a more accurate representation of the profession is needed to attract more candidates and fill the many different roles in the cybersecurity sphere.

"The perception - mostly fueled by the movie industry - of people sitting in dark rooms in front of glowing monitors is not what the cyber profession is all about," Wajsgras said to Fortune. "We need to do a better job at communicating what we do. We are engineers, policy makers, critical thinkers, and innovators."

Getting ahead of the curve
With so many businesses and agencies trying to connect with and hire cybersecurity specialists, it's critical to understand where to find qualified talent. CNBC recommended targeting recent graduates with degrees or concentrations in information security, as these individuals already have much of the knowledge in place to succeed in the cybersecurity field.

Another important consideration in cybersecurity is technology and security systems. Organizations can use technology to shore up protections and alleviate some of the burden related to the lack of trained professionals. While it's still critical to have the right people in place, secure platforms for information exchange and similar systems can help companies keep digital assets safe even when faced with the cybersecurity brain drain.

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