However, as the global workforce migrates from physical corporate locations to less-secure home offices, this new reality creates increased cyber threats, as employees exchange what can be sensitive data in order to prevent business operations from coming to a standstill.
This tectonic shift in our daily way of life has made it easier for malicious hackers to exploit and target remote workforces, the tools we use daily for communications and even our critical infrastructure - exposing weaknesses in our cyber defense strategies.
As a result, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA); an arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has named cybersecurity engineers, cybersecurity risk management jobs, and information technology staff as “essential for continued infrastructure viability.”
But at a time when professionals with these skills are needed more than ever, there’s a major gap in the number of qualified cybersecurity workers.
The shortage in the U.S. alone is already estimated at around 500,000. Experts have forecast more than 3.5 million open cyber jobs around the world by next year.
“Workers across the information technology sector are playing a more essential role than ever in enabling critical infrastructure, helping businesses stay online, and keeping citizens connected,” says John Miller, Information Technology Industry Council’s Senior Vice President of Policy.
“These workers are critical to supporting health care providers, manufacturing technology products and components, securing and servicing critical data centers, delivering food and essential needs to communities, keeping out-of-school students engaged, and enabling governments to respond to this global health crisis,” he adds.
70 percent of organizations are seeing the value of increasing their investments in cybersecurity solutions.
But at a time when professionals with these skills are needed more than ever, there’s a major gap in the number of qualified cybersecurity workers. The shortage in the U.S. alone is already estimated at around 500,000.
Experts have forecast more than 3.5 million open cyber jobs around the world by next year, and that forecast was made before the massive increase in the companies and individuals doing their business online.
Demand for Skilled Cybersecurity Workers Continues
Global information technology association ISACA’s State of Cybersecurity 2020 report shows 70 percent of respondents said that fewer than half of their cybersecurity applicants are well-qualified, and 72 percent of cybersecurity professionals believe their human resources departments do not regularly understand their needs.
“Cybersecurity jobs are in high demand but, as many organizations are all too aware, it continues to be a real struggle to find the right candidates with the right skills and experience to meet the demands of these roles,” says retired Brigadier General Greg Touhill, ISACA board director and president of the AppGate Federal Group. “They lack good communication skills, proper understanding of security architecture, awareness of risk as a discipline, project management knowledge, and critical thinking skills,” Sandy Dunn, chief information security officer for Blue Cross of Idaho tells Tripwire.
Creating a Cybersecurity Worker Pipeline
“I think the solution is for cybersecurity professionals, people like myself who are part of the hiring and managing of cybersecurity teams, to embed ourselves in the college curriculum and partner with college educators to influence the skills required in a cybersecurity program,” reports Dunn.
Beyond traditional higher education, digital college Calbright—created by the California Community College system to focus on educating and training working adults so they can move to higher-paying jobs—offers both cybersecurity and IT programs.
The program leverages online classes, apps and partnerships with hiring managers for internships and a pathway to jobs. Since the program caters to working adults, their work experience and knowledge can help them move through the program faster.
Anne Neuberger, Director of the Cybersecurity Directorate at the NSA, is a fan of these nontraditional, skills-building initiatives. “What’s the value of a four-year or a two-year college? There are entire, really interesting ways to get cyber-related certifications that one can do outside of the college environment and then show you have the skills which employers value,” Neuberger says.
Cybersecurity Training Resources
Transferable skills are valued by the CISA, which launched a training catalog of 2,000 classes for current cybersecurity workers looking to update their skill sets, students who want jobs in the industry, and working professionals looking for a career change.
Specifically for current government workers, the DHS created two online trainings that include courses on the newest technology, executive-level training and industry certification courses.
If you’re considering a job in cybersecurity
skills are not only the gateway to a good-paying job and career, but they also offer people the chance to work on the frontlines of a major challenge that’s affecting millions of people and spanning industries, geographies, and backgrounds.
Professional inventory of your skills:
- Computer savvy?
- Detail oriented?
- A problem solver?
- Able to identify and easily explain to non-technical folks the challenges, needs and solutions?
Education: In addition to traditional higher education institutions, community colleges, programs like Calbright, community nonprofits and more can provide the appropriate training. Tripwire has compiled a list of providers to consider.
Credentials: As you choose your program, check if it’s accredited by the DHS’ National Centers of Academic Excellence.
Certifications: These are an acknowledgement of current and best practices. Consider the CISSP.
In a post-COVID world, our workforce will be dramatically different. So, as we emerge as a changed society and workforce, it is critical that we focus on meeting the needs of the challenges and priorities of today, by cultivating a highly-skilled cyber workforce, ready and able to secure a modern, remote and digital world.