Partner Perspectives

The Time Is Now To Address The Cybersecurity Talent Shortage In Unique Ways

Cultivating talent from unaccustomed outlets will benefit all of us.

Today nearly every aspect of our society depends on the global digital infrastructure. This increasing reliance means that cyberattacks can be hugely disruptive and costly. Preparing for and responding to the rising volume of cyberattacks in a timely manner requires a skilled workforce. Most enterprises are not staffed to respond to these attacks.

Intel Security partnered with the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the recent report Hacking the Skills Shortage: A Study of the International Shortage in Cybersecurity Skills. The report emphasizes that the global cybersecurity workforce shortfall will be between 1 million and 2 million positions unfilled by 2019. The report states that the shortage of skilled cybersecurity workers is worse than any other IT profession.

Jobs remain open due to lack of labor. Last year alone, 209,000 security jobs went unfilled, and the trend is expected to continue. Intel Security predicts that we have more than $41 billion in unpaid salaries left on the table as a result of this hiring gap.

The shortage of security personnel has left organizations vulnerable to attacks. Companies are at huge risk when they do not have skilled personnel looking after their infrastructures. Security tools are not well managed, and an organization’s ability to respond and mitigate breaches and other security events is compromised.

The security vendor industry must drive better ways to address security needs -- primarily through developing better incident response, correlation, and automation technologies. We should see tremendous efforts directed toward improving these tools and automation capabilities during the next several years.

College students are being encouraged to earn degrees in information security. And many corporations, Intel included, send employees to high schools and colleges to inspire women and minorities to consider STEM degrees. These efforts are laudable and will help to make a difference.

A recent article indicated that one-half of the 775 companies interviewed believe that at least a bachelor's degree was relevant to enter the cybersecurity field, but that this requirement is more reflective of marketing the candidate than providing cybersecurity skills. When asked about the best ways to build cybersecurity skills however, 68% of the respondents ranked hands-on experience and professional certifications above a degree. College computer science degree programs touch very little, and sometimes not at all, on security training.

Broaden The Search

Adequately addressing the security talent shortage requires us to search broadly for solutions. We can cultivate talent in unique ways. One is to take the problem into our own hands and create the training opportunities ourselves, just as Oracle is doing by building an on-campus public high school to develop the next generation of innovators. Expect to see more corporations developing their own talent through creating or sponsoring magnet schools that focus their instruction on security training. Not only can this type of training help bring a new generation to our businesses, but it also attracts a more diverse student body.

Corporations have also created specific affinity groups to address career development and leadership opportunities for women. We should continue to encourage efforts to develop and expose women to opportunities in security through similar programs. Intel Security launched the Women in Security (WISE) program focused specifically on the development, empowerment, and success of women in security. Not only does this effort help meet diversity goals, it brings fresh talent to the table and drives a culture of inclusion that has proven to benefit companies’ bottom lines. 

Getting young primary students interested in coding through gaming exercises will spark the energy and enthusiasm needed to guide them into the security realm as they consider their college options. On the other end of the age spectrum is the older worker who finds retirement unfulfilling. Creating flexible work schedules or job-sharing opportunities will help us to leverage experienced and loyal candidates to fill the security defender roles.

As companies work to address their overall diversity gaps and goals, they will address unique ways to find, educate, and hire new talent. There is much untapped potential in high school students who may not have the opportunity to attend college due to limited support or finances. Many of these students have the attitude and aptitude to work in cybersecurity but need a hand up. Security operations center staff, incident responders, and other notable security roles could be filled through creating apprenticeships and internships that expose people to cybertraining in a focused, hands-on environment.

An often overlooked source of potential candidates is our veterans. These potential applicants are already predisposed to a security mindset through their military service. They have the fortitude to handle the demands of the security industry. Veterans savvy about technology and working across global environments can quickly grasp and adhere to policies and procedures and are quite accountable. They constitute a perfect candidate pool.

The industry must accelerate addressing solutions to the talent shortage. We have to act fast; we cannot let the bad guys win. I encourage everyone to look at novel ways to solve our talent crisis. Cultivating talent from unaccustomed outlets will benefit all of us. There are many capable and competent job seekers who are able to quickly gain the knowledge and expertise to meet our needs, if we let them. Be receptive. Be progressive. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.