(ISC)² – a nonprofit association of certified cybersecurity professionals – released the findings of its 2020 Cybersecurity Workforce Study. 3,790 respondents, all of whom dedicate at least 25% of their time to cybersecurity tasks, were surveyed across 14 geographies in order to accurately assess the size of the current cybersecurity workforce and the challenges and opportunities they face.
For the first time, the study indicates a year-over-year reduction in the cybersecurity workforce gap, due in part to increased talent entry into the field and uncertain demand due to the economic impact of COVID-19. The research, conducted from mid-April through June 2020, also provides insights from cybersecurity professionals about their organizations’ COVID-19 pandemic response, and the effort required to quickly and securely transition staff to remote working environments.
The study reveals that the cybersecurity profession experienced substantial growth in its global ranks, increasing to 3.5 million individuals currently working in the field, an addition of 700,000 professionals or 25% more than last year’s workforce estimate. The research also indicates a corresponding decrease in the global workforce shortage, now down to 3.12 million from the 4.07 million shortage reported last year. Data suggests that employment in the field now needs to grow by approximately 41% in the U.S. and 89% worldwide in order to fill the talent gap, which remains a top concern of professionals.
In a historically unprecedented year, the study also focused on how security teams and professionals were impacted by COVID-19. The data shows that 30% of cybersecurity professionals faced a deadline of one day or less to transition their organizations’ staff to remote work and to secure their newly transformed IT environments. 92% of respondents indicated that their organization was “somewhat” or “very” prepared to respond, and just 18% saw security incidents increase during this time.
“Overall we’re seeing some very positive trends from the cybersecurity workforce reflected in this new data,” said Clar Rosso, CEO of (ISC)2. “The response to COVID-19 by the community and their ability to help securely migrate entire organizational systems to remote work, almost overnight, has been an unprecedented success and a best-case scenario in a lot of ways. Cybersecurity professionals rose to the challenge and solidified their value to their organizations.”