Even with increased automation, an organization’s cybersecurity strategy is only as strong as its employees. According to a Fortinet report, 84% of surveyed security leaders experienced one or more breaches in the past 12 months, up from 80% in 2021. Twenty-nine percent had five or more intrusions versus 19% the previous year, and 48% suffered breaches in the past 12 months that cost more than $1 million to remediate, up from 38% in 2021.

The report found that 81% of cyberattacks were in the form of phishing, password and malware attacks. Sixty-five percent of the survey respondents expect the number of cyberattacks to increase. North American respondents expect a 25% increase in attacks over the next year. Respondents in Europe, the Middle East and Africa expect a slightly lower increase at 17%. Because of this, organizations are looking for ways to increase their cybersecurity preparedness. This includes communicating with executives and attempting to hire additional security personnel, since 68% of organizations indicate they face additional risks because of cybersecurity skills shortages.

Ninety-three percent of respondents indicate their board asks about cybersecurity, up from 88% in 2021. In 2022, 83% of boards suggested increasing IT security headcount, compared to 76% in 2021. The report found that 93% of leaders believe their organization is doing everything it can to deal with increasing attack volumes.

One of the ways organizations are working towards this is by hiring based on security certifications. Ninety percent of leaders prefer to hire individuals with technology-focused certifications. Eighty-two percent indicate that their organization would benefit from cybersecurity training in the form of certifications, and 75% indicate that their organization would benefit from security awareness and training for all employees.

Nearly all leaders (95%) with certifications themselves or who have a certified employee on their team have experienced positive results. Seventy-two percent indicate increased cybersecurity knowledge and 62% indicate better performance of duties. Fifty-five percent indicate that certification has sped up their career growth, and 47% indicate higher salaries, up from 29% in 2021.

In addition to looking for certifications, security leaders have worked to increase diversity within the field. Approximately 40% of respondents report difficulty finding qualified candidates who are women, military veterans, or from minority backgrounds. Eighty-three percent of organizations have near-term diversity hiring goals, down from 89% in 2021. Thirty-seven percent of respondents indicate network security roles are hardest to fill, while 32% indicate software development roles are hardest to fill. The majority (54%) indicate retention is also a challenge.

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