Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Cloud

7/30/2020
05:15 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Ill-Defined Career Paths Hamper Growth for IT Security Pros

Appsec and cloud security skills are the most in demand, and a shortage of staff is wearing on security teams, a new study shows.

Landing a job in cybersecurity is the easy part. It's what happens later that's trickier for a high percentage of cybersecurity professionals.

A new report by Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) and the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) shows people with IT security skills continue to be a blazing-hot commodity because of a deepening skills shortage. However, a continuous lack of training, career-development, and long-term planning often results in many of them largely going through their careers overworked, over-stressed - and with little strategic direction.

Organizations should demonstrate care and the willingness to invest in employees and staff, says Candy Alexander, president of ISSA International. "Do not treat them as a resource that is easily replaced because they are not. Take time to understand their role and position. Don't be afraid to ask questions and keep the dialog open."

Some 73% of the 327 total cybersecurity professionals and ISSA members interviewed for the report professed to being contacted by recruiters for other jobs at least once a month. Nearly one-quarter (24%) say they receive such solicitations multiple times a week, and another 16% at least once a week.

The data shows that the market for cybersecurity talent continues to be a "sellers market," according to the report (the fourth on the topic by ESG and ISSA in as many years). Some 70% of survey respondents said their organizations had been impacted by a skills shortage and 45% described the situation as having worsened over the past few years.

The areas with the most significant skills shortages are application security and cloud security, with 33% and 31%, respectively, of the respondents identifying it as their biggest pain point. Other areas with high demand included security analysis and investigations (29%) and security engineering (26%).

Multiple Job Challenges

The survey shows that while demand for IT security skills continue to handily outstrip supply, those already in the profession face a slew of challenges.

One of them is being overworked. Since many organizations are short-staffed, existing staff has to take on more work. Fifty eight percent say increased workload is the biggest impact of the skills shortage.

Because of the increased workload, existing staff has little opportunity to utilize technology to their full potential or have little time to work with business units. Instead, many spend a disproportionate amount of time on incident response and other firefighting operations. Unsurprisingly, 34% described burnout and a high attrition rate as two big consequences on existing staff from the security skills shortage.

Disturbingly, the pace and pressure of the job are pushing at least some to depression, alcoholism, and drug addiction, according to the report. Twenty-nine percent say they or someone they know has experienced significant personal issues as a result of job-related stress.

Career Paths

Career progression and career growth are another factor. Sixty-three percent of the survey respondents were relatively new to the profession, with less than three years experience. Yet, less than one-third (32%) of the security professionals in the ESG/ISSA study believe they have a well-defined career-path and a plan to get to the next level. Twenty-eight percent say they don't have a path or a plan, and 40% have some idea, but described it as not a well-defined plan.

Many security professionals enhance their security skills on the fly simply by jumping from job to job and not in a formal, systematic way. Some 43% said that having a mentor, a standardized career map, and technical training were critical to moving to the next level. Nearly seven in 10 say the most effective method to increase their knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) is via specific security training courses; 65% say participation in professional organizations and events is critical to that goal.

"From [an] industry perspective, it is critical for the profession to work together to define a globally accepted professional career map," Alexander says. The map would need to detail "what exactly a cybersecurity profession is and what KSAs for each level are needed to be successful," she adds.

Related Content:

Register now for this year's fully virtual Black Hat USA, scheduled to take place August 1–6, and get more information about the event on the Black Hat website. Click for details on conference information and to register.

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Commentary
Ransomware Is Not the Problem
Adam Shostack, Consultant, Entrepreneur, Technologist, Game Designer,  6/9/2021
Edge-DRsplash-11-edge-ask-the-experts
How Can I Test the Security of My Home-Office Employees' Routers?
John Bock, Senior Research Scientist,  6/7/2021
News
New Ransomware Group Claiming Connection to REvil Gang Surfaces
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  6/10/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Google's new See No Evil policy......
Current Issue
The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-24368
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-20
The Quiz And Survey Master – Best Quiz, Exam and Survey Plugin WordPress plugin before 7.1.18 did not sanitise or escape its result_id parameter when displaying an existing quiz result page, leading to a reflected Cross-Site Scripting issue. This c...
CVE-2021-31664
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-18
RIOT-OS 2021.01 before commit 44741ff99f7a71df45420635b238b9c22093647a contains a buffer overflow which could allow attackers to obtain sensitive information.
CVE-2021-33185
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-18
SerenityOS contains a buffer overflow in the set_range test in TestBitmap which could allow attackers to obtain sensitive information.
CVE-2021-33186
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-18
SerenityOS in test-crypto.cpp contains a stack buffer overflow which could allow attackers to obtain sensitive information.
CVE-2021-31272
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-18
SerenityOS before commit 3844e8569689dd476064a0759d704bc64fb3ca2c contains a directory traversal vulnerability in tar/unzip that may lead to command execution or privilege escalation.