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11/6/2017
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Virtual Reality Could Serve as a Cybersecurity Recruiting Tool

A recent study finds 74% of millennials and post-millennials agree VR use in cybersecurity tools may entice them into an IT security career.

Cybersecurity tools that employ immersive technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality could attract millennials and post-millennials to IT security careers, a new study shows.

Across the globe, the IT security industry is expected to face a talent shortfall of 1.8 million workers by 2022. But the Immersive Technologies & The Future of Cybersecurity report - a survey of 524 US residents between 16-to 24-years old - shows that virtual reality tools could attract security talent: some 74% of the survey respondents say they are likely to pursue an IT security career if cybersecurity tools incorporate virtual reality and augmented reality technologies.

Additionally, 77% of survey respondents say they would enjoy using these tools if that were the case, according to the ESG study commissioned by ProtectWise.

The majority of survey respondents already have extensive exposure to virtual reality and augmented reality technologies through online and video games, the report notes. According to the survey:

  • 40% have been gamers for at least 10 years
  • 76% play online games on a weekly basis, averaging 9 hours of gaming each week
  • 58% have used or regularly use virtual reality technologies in games

"These kids are highly exposed to gaming principles and are aware of spatial familiarity," says Gene Stevens, co-founder and CTO of ProtectWise. "I was shocked by their positive response to pursuing a career in cybersecurity. I was expecting to see more resistance."

ProtectWise, which is beta-testing its so-called Immersive Grid SOC service that includes a 3D visual layer for monitoring security alerts, commissioned the report to determine what if any correlation exists between virtual reality and augmented cybersecurity tools and recruiting future infosec professionals. Immersive Grid uses both virtual reality andaugmented reality.

"We did the survey to see if it makes sense to draw millennials and post-millennials to the platform, IT and cybersecurity as a job," Stevens says.

Some 67% percent of survey respondents haven't taken a cybersecurity class in school, with 65% of that group saying the reason is that their educational institution didn't offer such courses. Nearly a quarter of survey respondents say they avoided cybersecurity courses due to a lack of interest, while 15% say they don't have enough technical knowledge to take these classes.

Takeaway for Employers

Although Stevens estimates few companies are offering virtual reality and augmented reality in their cybersecurity tools, he hopes the numbers will grow because of the potential to attract new hires to the IT security workforce.

Meantime, some 33% of respondents are interested in a video-game development career, while 9% want to pursue a cybersecurity career.

Stevens notes by infusing immersive technologies as seen in video games into cybersecurity tools the IT security industry stands a better chance of winning over more prospective job candidates.

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Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's ... View Full Bio

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