How to get ahead of cybersecurity skills shortage

Cybersecurity is facing something of a crisis – and it’s only getting worse. This crisis has been hanging over the industry for a number of years, but recent events have really shown the level of the problem.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a massive effect on many industries, but one thing it has done universally is to push more companies online and made them more reliant on their internet services, connected devices and websites. 

Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that we have also seen an upsurge in cybercrime. Cybercriminals have seen the opportunity in the fact that businesses were forced to make use of technology, and in some cases, they may not have been ready to do so. This has left them vulnerable and potentially easier to breach. 

A shortage of security specialists

Unsurprisingly, businesses facing greater risks and danger from cybercriminals have looked to employ cybersecurity specialists to shore up their defences. But therein lies the problem; there simply aren’t enough cybersecurity professionals to go around. 

It was estimated that through 2021, the talent shortage would be so severe that 3.5 million cybersecurity positions would go unfilled. That’s a serious problem – and what’s worse is than that figure was only 1 million in 2014; the cybersecurity skills gap is growing year on year. 

The two issues collide

So, the crisis has worsened because of two issues: the growth in the number of cybercrime incidents, and the shortage of cybersecurity skills. However, knowing these things doesn’t necessarily make it any easier. 

So, how can a business overcome the problem and get ahead of the cybersecurity skills shortage? The good news is there are some possibilities, you just need to understand which one is right for your business. 

Outsourcing your cybersecurity

Some businesses still assume that all of their cybersecurity work needs to be carried out by the in-house IT team. In theory, this offers you complete control over your system and avoids the need to bring in outside specialists who might be more interested in providing you with expensive (perhaps even overkill) cybersecurity measures. 

However, this isn’t necessarily the case. Outsourcing actually provides you with all of the cybersecurity skills that you need without having to pay an expensive team. Due to the shortage of professionals in the cybersecurity industry, hiring them in-house is often prohibitively expensive. 

Look to work with cybersecurity specialists that are approved by organisations such as CREST – this will allow you to make sure you are working with trustworthy professionals. You will be able to get high-quality cybersecurity services such as 24/7 monitoring and proactive threat detection for a fraction of the cost of carrying out the work in-house. 

Investing in your in-house team

Having just said that hiring a team of cybersecurity specialists is likely to be too expensive, or impractical for a smaller business, it is worth noting the possibilities of investing in your in-house IT team. 

It is often misunderstood that the cybersecurity of a business is the sole concern of the IT department and that no-one else needs to get involved. In fact, this is the wrong approach. You need to consider that every member of your organisation is responsible for their cybersecurity and they need to be helping keep the business secure.

This can be achieved through regular training sessions. Teaching your whole team how to spot potential cyberattacks and understand how to respond is just as vital as any element of cybersecurity.

The hybrid

Of course, the third way is a hybrid solution that combines elements of in-house cybersecurity work and outsourcing. There are some elements of cybersecurity work that are always best outsourced. For example, penetration testing – which is an essential element of testing your cyber defences. In penetration testing, cybersecurity specialists will attempt to use criminal hacking techniques and tools to gain access to your system. 

Trying to have this carried out in-house almost defeats the purpose of it, as the idea is that a specialist tries to beat your cybersecurity measures to establish whether they could withstand a genuine attack

On the other hand, investing not only in general training but more in-depth cybersecurity-focused learning can be hugely valuable in the long term. If you can’t find in-house staff to hire at the right price, it can be cheaper to provide your current IT team with the skills and knowledge they need. 

Final thoughts

The cybersecurity skills shortage doesn’t need to mean disaster for your business. If you are proactive, you can get ahead of it and find the right skills through in-house training and outsourced solutions.