The never-ending need for more cybersecurity experts
Where cyberattacks are concerned, 2016 has been a year of firsts.
In January, reports confirmed that hackers were responsible for a power outage in Ukraine that befell approximately 100,000 residents. A month later, ransomware knocked computer systems offline in a Southern California hospital, forcing staff to keep records with pen and paper and communicate outside the facility via fax. The cyberattackers lifted the encryption only after the hospital forfeited $17,000 in bitcoin. Soon after, several other medical facilities fell prey to the same scheme, including one hospital in Kansas that was hit with a second ransom after paying the initial sum.
It gets better. In February, a group of cybercriminals that remains at large stole $81 million from the international banking system after breaking into SWIFT (a global financial messaging system) by stealing Bangladesh Bank login credentials. The perpetrators were actually trying to steal nearly $1 billion, and they probably would have succeeded had it not been for a typo in one the transfer statements.
Keep in mind that these cyberattacks are just the ones with enough shock and awe to make it into the headlines. Every day, there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of attacks. In fact, you can watch many of them as they happen with a real-time cybercrime map. Sometimes, hundreds occur within seconds. Watch any more than a few minutes, and two things will become very clear: First, the bad guys are having a good year, and second, we're going to need more cybersecurity experts.
A shortage of cybersecurity talent
In 2014, there were approximately 238,158 cybersecurity-related job postings, according to the National Cyber Security Alliance, which is a 91 percent increase over 2010. According to CSO, by 2015, the U.S. was short 200,000 cybersecurity professionals. Why?
"More cybercrime opportunities mean more cybercriminals, and that means greater need for cybersecurity."
Part of the reason for the increase in demand for cybersecurity expertise, as well as the subsequent shortage of talent, is fairly straightforward. With more devices, data, digitization and automation come more opportunities for hackers to make money from their nefarious deeds. Social Security numbers, credit card data, names, addresses, contact information and other forms of personally identifiable information have been digitized. Cybercriminals who manage to penetrate the fortresses in which they reside can fetch a pretty penny on the dark web by selling them to identity thieves and other criminals. Long story short, more cybercrime opportunities mean more cybercriminals, and that means greater need for cybersecurity.
You'd think that with all of this going on, there'd be a spiking interest in cybersecurity professions, and yet, here we are, short the talent we need. The reason, according to the NCSA, may be a lack of awareness regarding the opportunities that are available to budding IT professionals. The study revealed that only 62 percent of survey respondents worldwide were made aware of cybersecurity as a profession prior to entering college or the workforce. Not surprisingly, then, much of the IT talent pool will inevitably gravitate to the opportunities they believe exist.
Incidentally, therein lies the solution to this problem.
Awareness will breed action
As we can deduce from the law of supply and demand, if there's a benefit to the lack of cybersecurity professionals, it's the increase in the value of those experts who have the requisite talent for the job. According to CSO, cybersecurity jobs are some of the best out there, and will continue to be for the next seven years – at least. In fact, according to CIO, data security analysts can expect to see salary hikes of 7.1 percent over last year. Similarly, network security engineers and system security administrators are looking at an average pay raise of more than 6 percent.
Needless to say, money talks. With the influx of unfilled vacancies leading to higher salaries for cybersecurity professionals, many IT gurus will likely rethink their career trajectories.There are plenty of valuable cybersecurity certification programs out there to get you started. The next step is to be aware of the jobs that are out there. A good place to start looking right away is the prosourceIT career portal.
Organizations also have a hand to play in picking up the cybersecurity slack. They need to do everything in their power to ensure that they have access to the greatest number of qualified candidates so they can fill any outstanding cybersecurity vacancies. To this end, it may help to get in touch with a recruiter that knows how to seek out the top talent. To get started today, contact the experts at prosourceIT.