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December 9, 2021 | Matt Pacheco

The Cybersecurity Workforce Shortage: Overcoming the Challenge

Many industries are experiencing a labor crunch, and cybersecurity is no different. Cybersecurity staff are vital to keeping an organization’s critical assets, like systems and data, protected from cyberattacks. Unfortunately, the competition for this security talent is making it difficult for some businesses. In this post, we explore what’s causing the cybersecurity workforce shortage and a possible solution.

Why is there a cybersecurity workforce shortage?

While the global cybersecurity workforce has actually increased in number (The estimated workforce grew from 3.5 million globally in 2020 to 4.2 million globally in 2021, and up by 30% in the United States), the influx of new security experts hasn’t been enough to fill the gap. There are 2.7 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs in 2021. That’s a lot of job postings. This is an improvement from 3.1 million in 2020 but still stands as a significant gap to close.

The recent 2021 ISC Cybersecurity Workforce Study, assessed the current state of the talent pool, including satisfaction levels, pathways respondents took to get to their careers, qualifications and attributes sought after in cybersecurity personnel, planned interventions to address the worker gap, and more. The study included respondents with titles from Security Administrator, to IT Director, to Chief Information Security Officer,

Sixty percent of businesses say that the shortage of cybersecurity workers poses a risk to their business. Risks of being short-staffed include:

  • Misconfigured systems (32%)
  • Not enough time to do adequate risk assessment and management (30%)
  • Delay in patching critical systems (29%)
  • Process and procedure oversights (28%)
  • Lack of awareness regarding all potential threats against a network (27%)
  • Hasty deployments (27%)

Satisfaction among cybersecurity professionals is the highest it’s been in the last few years. 77% of respondents report feeling satisfied with their line of work. Those working for government agencies had lower satisfaction (72%) than average, compared to private-sector workers in retail (83%), manufacturing (82%), and construction (81%), but higher than those working in education (69%). All satisfaction levels recorded were relatively strong.

The increased moving to remote work and growing ransomware attack threats has made finding cybersecurity talent more difficult. While the cybersecurity workforce gap is not new, and the gap narrowed in 2021. The increasing demands of the job mean this improving trend may not last.

Employees are looking for more incentives and a greater work-life balance. And organizations have cited retention as the key to weathering the talent shortage. Employers are doing several things to address the gap and emphasize retention. The top ten priorities for businesses include:

  • investing in more training (36%)
  • providing more flexible working conditions (33%)
  • investing in certifications (31%), and DEI initiatives (31%)
  • hiring for soft skills and training for technical skills (28%)
  • providing well-defined career paths for employees (27%), among other things.

Some other interventions to close the gap can include adding more students to the pipeline, up-leveling current employees by enrolling them in cybersecurity training, and looking outside the box for people with abilities that show they will be easy to train into the organization.

None of the efforts to solve the cybersecurity talent shortage will be short-term fixes. So, what can you do in the immediate future before long-term solutions take shape? We recommend outsourcing cybersecurity programs to managed providers.

XDR and SOC help businesses overcome cybersecurity talent shortages

One way to mitigate talent shortages is to adopt XDR. XDR (extended detection and response) is a cybersecurity solution that collects and analyzes real-time data for your business to identify potential threats before they impact cybersecurity operations. A SOC is a security operations center. Consider it your mission control for seeking out and keeping tabs on security threats to your organization.

Together, these solutions provide automation and analytics to cut down on the time cybersecurity teams spend on various tasks. The tools streamline incoming information so that the staff working the SOC can make quicker decisions by using a single dashboard.

XDR & automation tools do not replace your IT staff and they don’t solve the demand for cybersecurity professionals entirely. But they do augment staff with the threat intelligence tools that enable your team to mitigate cyber risks and problem solve. For businesses that still need to fill staffing gaps, we recommend working with a managed security services provider. Managed providers can help you manage security products, provide the experts via their own Security Operations Center (SOC), and work with you to find ways to continuously improve your security posture.

Let’s overcome the cybersecurity workforce shortage together

Don’t let the shortage leave you vulnerable to security threats. If you’re struggling to find a solution to cybersecurity staff shortages, consider working with a managed services provider. As a provider, we offer CleanIP™ XDR to consolidate all alerts, analysis, and data into one place. This helps our customers achieve their true security goal – keeping their data and applications safe from threats.  

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your organization.

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