Mind The Skill Gap: How To Expand Talent In Cybersecurity

The modern cybersecurity industry has been the subject of much attention in recent years as threats to businesses large and small continue to mount. Even outside of the industry, business experts have correctly concluded that more measures are necessary to counteract aging infrastructure and an increase in possible attack surfaces. The interest exists, but what doesn’t exist is enough personnel to fill the myriad jobs in cybersecurity. And this problem is only expected to get worse as time goes on, with the number of new professionals eclipsed by how much their talents are needed.

The discrepancy in cybersecurity is often blamed on the failure of universities to provide the courses necessary to train the next generation of experts. While this is a noted problem, it is only one of many. The same cybersecurity professionals who scoff at formalized education in the field are often unwilling to invest the resources into training others within their organization, instead preferring to solicit existing talent from other businesses. Though there is significant work involved when it comes to building a reliable team, the reward of cultivating new talent is preferable to poaching the old and widening the skill gap further. It’s a sacrifice, but one that must be made if the industry is to be sustainable moving forward.

The other advantage of in-house training is the integration of cybersecurity practices throughout all of a business’s processes. Too often, organizations view these tools as afterthoughts to be stapled at the end of every project. The reality here is that new systems, products, and infrastructure should be created with cybersecurity in mind. Training and apprenticeship programs provide enough personnel to adequately address anything new coming through the pipeline. This carries the added benefit of allowing new entrants in the industry to receive a hands-on experience with a variety of systems.

And, if a company doesn’t have any place to start when it comes to building in-house cybersecurity firms, a third-party organization can help. These companies can provide support for companies that don’t have the resources to train new experts and build the start of a good security culture. However, even dedicated cybersecurity organizations should be mindful of their practices when it comes to recruiting vs. fostering talent.

It’s also important to consider the kind of training that is being given to aspiring cybersecurity experts. The best way to handle cybersecurity is to start with the broad strokes—the compliance laws that it is absolutely vital that any professional knows. In many cybersecurity courses, emphasis is placed on the products that businesses can use to combat threats. This leads to experts with very specialized knowledge of a specific solution, rather than knowing many brand-agnostic solutions or the compliance standards that underpin the whole industry. Consultants should be neutral when it comes to recommending solutions and find whatever suits an organization’s needs.

The future of cybersecurity will need to be collaborative. Between academic organizations selling their programs to business organizations offering opportunities for interested professionals to learn, a lot needs to change about how new talent is cultivated. In the future, expect to see a new generation of experts that know compliance law inside and out—and that are focused on spreading their best practices to others.