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.

Threat Intelligence

11/11/2020
05:05 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Security Hiring Plans Remain Constant Despite Pandemic

Although we saw workforce gains this year, 56% of businesses surveyed report staff shortages are putting their organization at risk.

Enterprise plans to increase cybersecurity staff remain constant despite the economic pressures caused by COVID-19. While the workforce gap is smaller this year, more than half (56%) of businesses say staff shortages continue to put their organization at risk.

Related Content:

3 Tips For Successfully Running Tech Outside the IT Department

The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence

New on The Edge: 9 New Tactics to Spread Security Awareness

To compile the 2020 (ISC)² Cybersecurity Workforce Study, experts surveyed 3,790 security pros at all levels from small, medium, and large organizations across North America, Europe, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific region. Thirty percent report they have "the right amount" of dedicated security staff, 42% say they have a slight shortage, and 22% report a significant shortage.

While the global workforce gap has shrunk — from a shortage of 4.07 million to a gap of 3.12 million — experts say several factors explain this. Despite this decline, data suggests employment must grow by 41% in the US, and 89% worldwide, to meet organizations' needs. 

The study was conducted in late April 2020 into mid-June, a time at which businesses were undergoing drastic change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of the reason behind the smaller workforce gap is a lack of demand for cybersecurity practitioners. Researchers report a "sharp downshift" in the estimated number of US businesses investing in security pros. While large businesses continue to invest in security talent, investment levels are down from 2019.

There is also a greater supply of security practitioners year-over-year, likely driven by a strong base of industry migration. More organizations are increasing their supply of security talent by investing in their current base of professionals, the report notes.

(ISC)² CEO Clar Rosso, who isn't surprised by the smaller workforce gap, thinks the timing of this year's survey had an influence on the results. Now, respondents may have different answers.

"It was mostly Q2 of this year when organizations globally were contracting and saying 'I have to preserve cash flow,' 'I'm freezing all my open positions,' 'I'm not hiring,' … so it doesn't surprise me, what appears to be them treating cybersecurity like they would any part of the business," Rosso explains.

When companies are in crisis, their top priority is preserving cash and addressing basic needs: Do employees have the tools they need, can they connect? An (ISC)² study conducted earlier this year found 47% of security pros were taken off security duties to help with IT-related tasks such as equipping a mobile workforce.

Back in April and May, most organizations were focused on keeping their business running and transitioning employees to remote work. In North America, 27% of respondents had less than a day to transition employees into remote work and secure their transformed IT environments. Nearly half (48%) in the same region had less than a week; only 17% had more than seven days.

Now, with the scramble to remote work behind them, companies have begun to reexamine their security posture and the investments needed to make long-term remote work possible.

"I think as time goes on, and even right now, you'll find that businesses are thinking more about 'Am I secure?' 'Is my database secure?' 'Am I making all those cybersecurity considerations that I should to run my business?' … I think we're going to see that evolving," Rosso adds.

As Hiring Returns, Which Skills Are in Demand?
Most respondents to (ISC)²'s survey say their own job has not been affected; however, some report their hours, salary, or full-time status has been affected as a result during the pandemic.

However, despite COVID-19 and related economic pressures, organizations' plan to grow their security staff is consistent with previous years. Nearly half (48%) of businesses in 2020 plan to increase their staff, compared with 50% in 2019 and 49% in 2018. Nearly 40% plan no change, which is fairly consistent with 32% in 2019 and 37% in 2018. Only 15% of organizations plan to decrease their security staff, compared with 12% in 2019 and 10% in 2018.

As it stands, companies seem to have the percentage of security skills they describe as ideal. Most in-demand: security operations, which makes up 21% of current security team roles, followed by security administration (16%), risk management (14%), compliance (13%), secure software development (11%), and operation technology security (ICS) (11%). 

How are today's candidates educated? (ISC)² data reveals 41% have a bachelor's degree, 35% have a master's degree, 8% have an associate's degree, and 8% have a high school diploma. Nearly half (49%) have a degree in computer and information sciences; 20% have an engineering degree, and 10% have a degree in business. Most (72%) are male.

"I think when you're dealing with an environment that we're dealing with, where we have this massive gap, we can't expect everyone we hire come out of college with a degree in cybersecurity, or even computer science," says Rosso.

She encourages organizations to take a closer look at the core competencies cybersecurity professionals have and look for people within the business who already possess those skills.

"Who are those people who understand risk and risk mitigation, they work well with others, they're creative problem solvers and critical thinkers, they're analytic. … I think you'll find there are a lot of different professionals like that and they may be right for moving into a cybersecurity career," Rosso adds.

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Why Vulnerable Code Is Shipped Knowingly
Chris Eng, Chief Research Officer, Veracode,  11/30/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-23727
PUBLISHED: 2020-12-03
There is a local denial of service vulnerability in the Antiy Zhijia Terminal Defense System 5.0.2.10121559 and an attacker can cause a computer crash (BSOD).
CVE-2020-28175
PUBLISHED: 2020-12-03
There is a local privilege escalation vulnerability in Alfredo Milani Comparetti SpeedFan 4.52. Attackers can use constructed programs to increase user privileges
CVE-2020-13524
PUBLISHED: 2020-12-03
An out-of-bounds memory corruption vulnerability exists in the way Pixar OpenUSD 20.05 uses SPECS data from binary USD files. A specially crafted malformed file can trigger an out-of-bounds memory access and modification which results in memory corruption. To trigger this vulnerability, the victim n...
CVE-2020-13525
PUBLISHED: 2020-12-03
The sort parameter in the download page /sysworkflow/en/neoclassic/reportTables/reportTables_Ajax is vulnerable to SQL injection in ProcessMaker 3.4.11. A specially crafted HTTP request can cause an SQL injection. An attacker can make an authenticated HTTP request to trigger this vulnerability.
CVE-2020-23726
PUBLISHED: 2020-12-03
There is a local denial of service vulnerability in Wise Care 365 5.5.4, attackers can cause computer crash (BSOD).