Lack of skills the main challenge in recruiting information security talent

Despite, Raj Samani — chief data scientist at McAfee — last week claiming that there is no skills shortage, a poll from Infosecurity Europe 2019 suggests the opposite.

According to the poll, a lack of skills is cited as the biggest challenge to recruiting cyber and information security talent by almost a third (30%) of respondents.

This is followed by lack of recruitment budget (27%) and lack of interest in careers within the sector (26%). More than half (52%) believe the skills shortage puts their business at increased risk of cyber attacks.

“There are shortages of technical skills, particularly in SOC analysis, threat intelligence, research, incident response and forensic investigation,” says Paul McKay, senior analyst with Forrester Research Inc. “This is a result of difficulty in filling entry level roles, and keeping people interested once they’re there. At the top end, boards want CISOs to improve how they articulate business risk and manage the dynamics of how security can enhance the business strategy and vision. This requires commercial acumen and the so-called ‘soft skills’ – actually the hardest to master!”

Not only do more than a quarter of respondents flag up a lack of interest in an information security career as a major barrier to recruitment, but 46% stated they have found it difficult to encourage new talent into the sector. This makes it clear that attracting and retaining skilled individuals needs to be a priority.

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A different approach

David Boda, group head of Information Security at Camelot, suggests that businesses need to change how they approach recruitment. “Making the information security team visible to potential candidates helps attract those who are most in demand. This could be done by running meet-ups, contributing to the open source community or responsibly disclosing and publishing CVEs (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures lists), for example.”

Diversity breeds success

Cyber security is a demanding profession and the required skillset is diverse, with a mix of technical, leadership, business and communication skills necessary to effectively protect an organisation against threats and risks. Unfortunately, recent research highlights that there will be as many as 3.5 million unfilled positions in the industry by 2021.

Lisa Hamilton, Deloitte’s Cyber Security associate director, believes that actively building diverse teams is an imperative for the sector. “This will bring together individuals with their own perspectives to challenge and think about solving problems differently which will benefit the cyber security industry. To do this, we need to be open-minded when sourcing talent, focusing less on pre-requisites and more on behaviours, characteristics and enthusiasm.”

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Victoria Windsor, group content manager at Infosecurity Group, says: “It is becoming increasingly difficult to find skilled cybersecurity professionals but it’s such an exciting and stimulating field to work in, with so many opportunities, we want to make sure that we, as an industry, do our best to get this message across. We will be addressing this issue at Infosecurity Europe 2019 by introducing FutureSec – a programme of sessions and events focused on the development of people, skills and careers.

“As new technologies and threats emerge, and business environments become more complex, the skillsets needed will evolve. Government, education and businesses need to acknowledge the cyber security skills gap and work on inspiring people to consider a career in the industry, while increasing inclusivity. Most importantly, the sector must address its own problem with strategies to recruit talent from a range of backgrounds and investments in training and education.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...