How to Deal with the Shortage of Cybersecurity Professionals

  • April 30, 2019 - by Synoptek
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Although hackers are getting more and more successful, ramping up attacks using increasingly sophisticated tools, the industry is battling a severe shortage of cyber security professionals. It is estimated that there will be as many as 3.5 million unfilled cyber security positions in the industry by 2021. This skills gap crisis is of epic proportions, and most organizations have no clue what to do about it. Hackers are having a field day, taking advantage of understaffed enterprises who have little or no ability to prevent, detect, and respond to attacks. These companies are at high risk of suffering a data breach that may take years to recover from, but it doesn’t have to be that bad.

Why the shortage

The skills gap crisis is universal – irrespective of the industry or the region. While companies are driving immense efforts in recruiting (and retaining) the best talent, job seekers are seen running pillar to post in search of the ideal job. The situation is palpable in cyber security, and there are many reasons for this:

  • As digital transformation engulfs the business world with new tech becoming so rampant, organizations are finding it hard to fill many of their IT positions, especially in the security department.
  • Smaller enterprises are often at the receiving end, as they either do not realize the need for a security team, and/or have a handful of their specialized security experts snatched by large corporations.
  • Many companies do not want to hire candidates who do not have the degrees or technical expertise, even if they come across as smart, collaborative, and with a passion for solving problems.

The consequences

With several organizations reporting that their cybersecurity team is not large enough for the size of their organization, the consequences are far-reaching. According to a report by CIO, security jobs are one of the most in-demand tech jobs for 2019. As the skills and employment gap grows, the handful of cybersecurity employees will get burned out, and have a hard time keeping up. This will directly impact the data that is tied to the business and its customers and make it extremely vulnerable to attack.

  • With defenses down, businesses will continue to be hit by attacks, and will continue to lose money due to down time, fixing systems, carrying out workarounds, and other reactive activities.
  • With breaches becoming mainstream, personal information will continue to be stolen, and businesses will have a tough time re-building their brand, as well as their customer base.
  • With the rate of attacks increasing, and the lack of security professionals, cybersecurity jobs will continue to go unfilled, making the gap even wider.

Strategies to attract cybersecurity professionals

With the supply low and the demand high for cybersecurity professionals, you need to be creative and flexible when it comes to attracting new recruits. For starters, instead of having the typical posting that lists the job description and applicant requirements, a better approach is to have the listing describe the positive attributes of your company and what it can offer candidates. In other words, the job posting should market your company as a good place for cybersecurity professionals to work.

Having a job posting that catches candidates’ attention is important, but to keep their interest, you’ll likely need to offer more than just a sizable salary. To make your company more attractive, you might have to offer incentives, such as:

  • A signing bonus — Although you can give a signing bonus as a lump sum immediately after hiring a candidate, paying it in multiple installments over an extended period of time can help ensure that the person stays longer (e.g., pay part of the bonus after a year and the rest on the person’s two-year anniversary).
  • Continuous education and training — Education and training should be incorporated into a person’s normal work schedule; otherwise, it can become a burden rather than a benefit.
  • Opportunities to grow within the company — Growth opportunities in the cybersecurity field require a solid investment in IT security technologies and the cybersecurity team. If you fail to deliver on your promises for growth opportunities, a new hire could quickly become disillusioned and start looking for a new job.
  • Benefits designed to help balance work life with home life — For example, you might offer flextime or the ability to work remotely when feasible.

Despite offering an enticing salary and incentives, it still might be hard to find the perfect candidate. In that case, you might have to think outside the box.

Managed security services

Even with the help of a professional recruiter, finding a cybersecurity professional takes a lot of time and effort. Plus, after spending all that time, you’re not guaranteed to find someone — or worse, you hire someone, but the person leaves after a short time because a better offer comes along. This can be especially frustrating if you spent a significant amount of money and energy training the individual.

Because of the challenges associated with finding, training, and retaining cybersecurity professionals, companies are increasingly taking a different approach. Instead of hiring in-house cybersecurity professionals, they are partnering with managed security service providers, or MSSPs.

Like in-house cybersecurity professionals, MSSPs can install security software, set up firewalls, and implement other basic security measures to protect your company’s applications, devices, and network from security threats. However, MSSPs have the time and expertise to do much more. For example, they can provide advanced security services such as:

  • Deploying, configuring, and managing security technologies such as identity access management (IAM) solutions
  • Developing and implementing security solutions to protect data, applications, and systems hosted in a public, private, or hybrid cloud
  • Performing vulnerability scans to determine systems at risk for known exploits
  • Providing an automated security information and event management (SIEM) service that collects, aggregates, and analyzes log data produced in multiple locations to identify threats
  • Detecting and tracking anomalies (e.g., unusual behaviors, trends) in networks, systems, and user actions that might indicate the presence of a threat
  • Auditing for compliance with regulations and standards such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)

Besides having the time and expertise, MSSPs have the tools needed to provide these advanced security services — tools that are out of reach for most companies due to the tools’ cost and complexity.

MSSPs: A logical choice

Until the shortage is over, companies will be competing for the few cybersecurity professionals who are job hunting. Unless your company can offer a very lucrative package, chances are you won’t be able to attract the kind of talent you were hoping to find.

Fortunately, MSSPs such as Synoptek can provide advanced security services that will protect your company’s IT assets. Since Synoptek is also a managed service provider (MSP) than can manage all aspects of your IT systems, we truly understand the inner workings and interdependencies of all the components in your IT environment (e.g., hardware, applications, networks) and how to protect them.

Need help with IT security? Contact us today.