Staffing shortages in some industries have worsened since the COVID-19 pandemic began wreaking havoc in 2020, especially in cybersecurity. Cyberattacks have increased in many sectors, primarily targeting education and healthcare. What can employers do for their businesses with attacks rising alongside the widening cybersecurity skills gap?
What Is the Cybersecurity Skills Gap?
The cybersecurity skills gap has been growing for the last decade, and the pandemic has only worsened matters. Organizations lack personnel in their information technology (IT) departments, putting them at risk for cyber theft and attacks. There are about 715,000 cybersecurity job openings in the United States that companies need to fill but cannot.
There are multiple factors contributing to the gap. One main issue is the level of certification needed to secure these cybersecurity jobs — the best-paying positions often require certificates in addition to a prospect’s university degrees. This predicament puts employers in a challenging situation. Do they keep their high requirements, or should they reduce the criteria to open up the talent pool?
How Can Businesses Close the Cybersecurity Skills Gap?
The cybersecurity gap causes issues for companies in many industries. The lack of personnel puts businesses in a precarious situation. How can they close the skills gap? Here are five ways to address the issue.
1. Evaluate Infrastructure and Employees
A practical first step for a business is to evaluate its current cybersecurity status. First, the company should assess the IT department itself. What is the current security model? What do the team members think could improve the infrastructure?
It’s wise to assess the cybersecurity knowledge in every department. The business should hold interviews, give skills tests and conduct performance reviews to gauge where the strengths and weaknesses are. From there, it will better understand where it needs to improve.
2. Educate Workers
Another way businesses can directly address the skills gap is by taking manners into their own hands and teaching cybersecurity skills to employees. The IT department can hold special training sessions to engage workers and help them learn how to care for their hardware. For example, IT could test employees to see if they can detect phishing emails. These learning opportunities should occur regularly to educate people on what’s new in cybersecurity.
Taking preventive measures can significantly reduce the risk of a company facing cyber theft or an attack. Phishing scams are an excellent place to start with training employees on cybersecurity. These attacks soared by over 200% at the pandemic’s beginning, creating risks if an employee opens an attachment on their work computer.
3. Encourage Certification and Continued Learning
Teaching employees about cybersecurity is an effective and direct way to help close the gap, but businesses can go a step further and incentivize workers to pursue certifications. There are numerous organizations they can go to for training.
For example, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has various courses on its website. CISA offers classes for federal and non-federal employees, cyber professionals and the general public. Students can learn coding and the essentials of cybersecurity. These free lessons start at beginner levels and become advanced.
4. Utilize Third-Party Sources
Another way to strengthen a business and close the cybersecurity skills gap is using third-party sources. A prime example is corporations like Google using bug bounty programs to scope out security vulnerabilities in their software. These bounty programs often include white-hat freelance hackers who will try their best to find holes in the security infrastructure.
A bug bounty program tests the boundaries of security systems and can reduce the number of internal tests a business needs to do. Once weaknesses are discovered, a company’s IT team will still need to address them; but even so, third parties allow businesses to conserve resources by outsourcing vulnerability testing.
5. Consider Automation
Automation has been an influential tool people have used across countless industries. Artificial intelligence (AI) takes human effort out of the equation and can make cybersecurity processes stronger and more efficient. Employers can use it to close the skills gap by putting cybersecurity in the hands of smart technology.
Automating cybersecurity is important because cyberattacks themselves have become automated. By constantly learning and understanding new threats, AI can improve a company’s infrastructure to fight attacks like ransomware. Automated software is typically quicker than humans in detecting cybersecurity issues and can provide better 24-hour protection.
Closing the Cybersecurity Skills Gap
Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated daily, increasing the demand for cybersecurity professionals. There are hundreds upon thousands of job openings in this field, which causes concern because of the rise in attacks. These problems have led companies to take matters into their own hands to stay safe from hackers.