As cyber threats continue to rapidly evolve, the need for skilled cybersecurity professionals becomes increasingly urgent. Organizations are realizing the gaps in internal cyber risk management teams are interfering with their ability to effectively address emerging cyber threats. 

According to The International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC), “The cybersecurity workforce gap has increased from 2.7 million in 2021 to 3.4 million in 2022.” Cyber Seek currently reports a whopping 755,743 across the U.S., and the shortage is predicted to be a growing problem well into 2025. With companies investing in technology more than ever to streamline services and enhance their daily business functions, vulnerabilities are exploited by cybercriminals and the demand for cybersecurity professionals will only become more critical.

Why is there a shortage of cybersecurity professionals?

Recruiting and retaining qualified professionals proves to be a significant challenge in cybersecurity. The complexity of technology and the unique skill set required to perform efficiently as a cybersecurity professional has created a demand for a wide range of skills and knowledge that many job seekers just don’t satisfy. Companies are falling short to hire for these positions because they claim that a bachelor’s degree alone doesn’t make the cut anymore. Organizations are seeking individuals with specialized degrees along with industry-specific experience, higher-level credentials, certifications and continuing education to keep up with the evolving threat landscape. So, while cybersecurity professionals are applying for these positions, they are not considered qualified candidates and these roles are left unfilled. 

As a result, internal cybersecurity teams are finding themselves unable to cope with surging industry demands, leading to decreased productivity and dejected morale. Cybersecurity professionals are burnt out by the increasing stress and overwhelming demands of the job, which compels many to leave the profession entirely. Those who remain often become complacent because the volume of work cannot be satisfied by so few employees and individuals are tasked with specific responsibilities where they are burdened with insurmountable, redundant work. Companies are justified in their panic to hire and retain qualified professionals because as cybersecurity teams are inundated and bored by tedious tasks, mistakes are more likely to occur, resulting in increased vulnerabilities. 

Different strategies for recruitment and retainment of talent

Companies should explore a range of strategies to not only build an effective cyber risk management team but to also nurture and retain employees; by doing so, a positive culture and mindset are promoted, which supports business continuity and reinforces cyber defenses.

  1. Consider potential candidates from diverse backgrounds. Instead of only entertaining potential candidates who hold a degree in cybersecurity, broaden your search to include individuals who possess other valuable skills that can be applied to cyber risk management. Consider prospects who demonstrate proficiency in aggregating, processing and analyzing data or capability in critical thinking, project management and problem-solving. Security leaders should ask themselves: Does the candidate understand the company’s visions and methods? Are they willing to grow and develop their skills within the cybersecurity sector? Investing in employees from varied backgrounds allows a company to fill roles with people who can bring a fresh perspective to the table and grow within the company.
  2. Hire outside support from a Security Operations Center as a Service (SOCaaS) to strengthen internal cybersecurity teams. The volume of cyber events to scrutinize far exceeds the capability of most internal teams, so utilizing automation along with monitoring support, bridges the gaps that can increase a company’s vulnerability to cyber attacks. Many businesses are looking to cyber risk management companies that provide a co-managed solution. As a result, internal teams maintain an active role in monitoring but are provided with supplemental support for threat detection, which aids in response, recovery and resilience.
  3. Implement automation to augment cybersecurity defenses and alleviate burnout. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for cybersecurity provide companies with a way to scale more effectively to find insights in data in a way that’s practically impossible for humans to manage alone. As businesses across various industries attempt to keep up with emerging threats, the need for continuous monitoring becomes too demanding for internal teams to execute effectively, especially when understaffed. The use of automation provides a more effective method of threat detection so teams can better manage the volume of data.
  4. Cycle employees through different roles and provide learning opportunities with new technology for analysts to prevent teams from becoming complacent or stagnant. Create partnerships between base analysts and incident responders, which ultimately provides advancement of skills. By providing employees with opportunities for professional development, not only will they thrive in their roles, but employers can reap the rewards of increased productivity and employee retention while closing the talent gap.

The need for more cybersecurity professionals is only going to grow in the coming years as companies become more and more reliant on technology. By recruiting people from a variety of backgrounds and providing pathways for career growth, companies can find qualified cybersecurity professionals and retain them. What steps is your business taking to ensure that it has the cybersecurity talent needed?