Intel report finds global cybersecurity talent shortage

28 Jul 2016

A new survey from Intel Security and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has found that there is a global cybersecurity talent crisis with governments being blamed by a number of respondents.

The Intel and CSIS report entitled Hacking the Skills Shortage consulted with nearly 1,000 global respondents working for large organisations that are deeply involved in the cybersecurity sector.

What immediately stands out is that 82pc of respondents admitted that there is a shortage of cybersecurity skills, with 71pc saying this lack of talent makes particular organisations more vulnerable to direct attacks.

Future Human

25pc of those within breached companies revealed that this shortage led directly to the loss of proprietary data, yet respondents estimate an average of 15pc of cybersecurity positions in their company will go unfilled by 2020.

When looking to point the finger of blame towards a reason why such a large skills gap exists within many major nations, respondents cited their own governments, who they accused of not investing enough in cybersecurity talent.

Four main obstacles

Based on the findings of the report, Intel and CSIS found four main obstacles: lack of spending, education and training, employer dynamics and government policies.

While an increase in cybersecurity budgets seems like a fairly straightforward idea, the addition of better education and training could help bridge a gap that saw over half of respondents admit cybersecurity is lagging behind other IT fields.

Just under half of respondents cite a lack of training or qualification sponsorship as common reasons for talent departure.

Among some of the recommendations on how to mend this include redefining what it means to be hired as an entry-level cybersecurity staff member, opening available positions up to people who might not make the requirements today.

Additionally, the report recommends a diversification of the sector with greater opportunities or external training.

Need for automation to plug the gap

Some other solutions suggested rolling out automation in cybersecurity, as well as collecting attack data to develop better metrics to quickly identify threats.

This automation of cybersecurity is being fast-tracked by many cybersecurity researchers, with challenges like DARPA’s Cyber Grand Challenge highlighting a need for almost instantaneous security in a world where billions of devices are connected as part of the internet of things (IoT).

“A shortage of people with cybersecurity skills results in direct damage to companies, including the loss of proprietary data and IP,” said James A Lewis, senior vice president and director of the Strategic Technologies Program at CSIS.

“This is a global problem; a majority of respondents in all countries surveyed could link their workforce shortage to damage to their organisation.”

Intel infographic

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Colm Gorey
By Colm Gorey

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic. He joined in January 2014 and covered AI, IoT, science and anything that will get us to Mars quicker. When not trying to get his hands on the latest gaming release, he can be found lost in a sea of Wikipedia articles on obscure historic battles and countries that don't exist any more, or watching classic Simpsons episodes far too many times to count.

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