RedSeal study reveals UK cyber skills gap

The report by RedSeal, which surveyed 502 UK-based IT professionals, found that 87 percent of CIOs and other senior IT staff declared a struggle when it comes to hiring sufficient cyber expertise for protecting against cyber crimes.

Also, the concern of Brexit-related uncertainty when it comes to hiring security professionals from outside the UK was brought up by 73% of respondents.

95%, meanwhile, expressed belief that Brexit will widen the cyber skills gap further due to so many of their staff being from outside the UK. This observation has been associated with an apparent lack of homegrown cyber education.

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As for data breaches that have occurred, 81% reported an attack happening within the last 12 months, and 40% of senior IT staff admitted to not having a response plan.

“Across the industry, we have drained the talent pool for security professionals,” said CTO of RedSeal, Dr Mike Lloyd.

“There’s a global shortage of about 4 million cybersecurity pros, up from just over 3 million last year.

“The UK’s education system can help, but not quickly – professionals agree that it takes about 10 years of real-world experience to develop the skills needed to combat today’s threats, so we’re facing a sustained drought for talent.

“Automation can help, but cannot replace human intuition and insight. We have to build hybrid teams, combining computers for all the drudge work so that the few human analysts can focus on the security tasks that matter.”

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More focus on education needed

The study comes just over a year after the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy’s report, Cyber Security Skills and the UK’s Critical National Infrastructure, was released. This report, published in July 2018, said that the country did not have the cyber security skills to match its ever growing digital economy.

The investigation went on to talk about the government’s lack of urgency when it comes to addressing the cyber skills gap in relation to Critical National Infrastructure.

Professor Peter Komisarczuk, head of department information security at Royal Holloway University of London, said: “Further and higher education in cybersecurity needs continuing support in order to keep pace with the ever changing threat landscape that UK business is facing right now.

“There is a shortage of professionals with cyber security skills in the UK which means that engaging young people and mid-career changers in developing skills and knowledge through high level technical and computing education is more important than ever before.

“There are significant career opportunities in cybersecurity – the average annual salary for jobs in cybersecurity is £72,500 and we are seeing our graduates getting significantly more that the average graduate salary of £23,000 on leaving with their degree. Moreover, the potential to contribute to economic growth is huge, as well as support UK business against a very real cyber threat.

“There are some great schemes encouraging younger people to pursue a career in Information Security, such as CyberFirst which provides excellent opportunities for 11-17 year olds to develop skills and knowledge as well as a bursary scheme for undergraduate students.”

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.

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