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Shortage of Cyber Security Professionals

Individuals, businesses and governments are increasingly under attack by hackers aiming to profit from stolen data. Several research groups and publications have noted that the number of online security professionals is not adequate to meet the growing threat.

A Look Into the Shortage of Cyber Security Professionals

According to a 2018 article in SHRM Online, “More than 1,050 organizations have publicly disclosed that they were hacked in the first seven months of 2017, leaving more than a billion records compromised.”

Costs related to those attacks are on the rise, according to a 2017 article in Financial Times. The article cited a report that found the number of online attacks and data breaches rose by 27.4 percent between 2016 and 2017. Amidst the rising threat from cyber criminals is an alarming shortage of cyber security professionals. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, the research arm behind Cybercrime Magazine, there will be a global shortage of 3.5 million cyber security experts by 2021.

“The cybersecurity jobs forecasts have been unable to keep pace with the dramatic rise in cybercrime, which is predicted to cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015,” according to data compiled by Cybersecurity Ventures.

Cyber security professionals require extensive knowledge of computer science, network security, statistical analysis and business management, meaning the backlog is not likely to be filled until universities prepare an adequate number of graduates to meet the threat.

Possible Causes of the Shortage

“How did we get here?” was the rhetorical prompt posed by a 2018 article in Forbes

“With digital transformation and the ubiquity of web and cloud applications and services currently offered, it’s hard for businesses to fill many of their information technology (IT) positions, let alone ones that require security expertise,” the article’s author Brian NeSmith said.

Adding to the inadequate online defense, the article continued, are industry hiring practices that allow large companies to snatch up security talent leaving smaller businesses to fend for themselves. Research bears out that inequality. A 2017 study by Global Information Security Workforce found that two-thirds of the 20,000 respondents indicated that their organizations lack adequate numbers of cyber security professionals. 

“Companies need to broaden their range of potential candidates to seek smart, motivated and dedicated individuals who work well as part of a team,” NeSmith said, adding that companies would do well to encourage more females into the industry.

Anthony Dagostino, head of cyber risk at Willis Towers Watson, told SHRM Online that “the root of the problem is companies are [moving] so quickly — getting connected to social media, getting more connected to more places, expanding their footprint — that companies are losing track of their critical assets.”

The article recommends companies focus on employee training, educate customers on the danger of phishing software and beef up IT security.

The Upshot for Potential Online Security Professionals

The current and looming shortage of cyber security professionals offers its own benefits for potential newcomers to the field.

“I highly recommend pursuing your education in information technology or computer science,”

Robert Herjavec, founder and CEO at Herjavec Group, recently told a group of IT workers. “There is a zero-percent unemployment rate in cybersecurity and the opportunities in this field are endless.”

A 2017 article in Forbes highlighted the need for security analysts, one of several careers within cyber security.

“One of the most in-demand cyber security roles is security analyst,” said Bill Bonifacic, a cyber security recruiter from blueStone Recruiting. “In 2012 there were 72,670 security analyst jobs in the U.S., with median earnings of $86,170 [per year]. Three years later, there were 88,880 such analysts making $90,120.”

Other popular cyber security positions include security manager, chief information security officer, cyber security researcher, information security professor, information privacy scientist, chief technology officer and VP of cyber security strategy.

As the cat-and-mouse battle between online security experts and hackers escalates, so does the need for qualified cyber security experts who can fill the current worker shortage. The online Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Cyber Security Management from St. Thomas University teaches cutting-edge approaches to protecting information technology assets through a study of risk management, cyber security technologies, cryptography, network security, operating systems protection and more. Learn important business skills like managerial accounting, international business, data analytics and organizational behavior from experienced STU faculty. Courses in the program run seven weeks apiece, and students can complete the program in as few as 10 months.

Learn more about the STU online MBA with a concentration in Cyber Security Management program.


Forbes: The Cybersecurity Talent Gap Is an Industry Crisis

Forbes: The Fast-Growing Job With a Huge Skills Gap: Cyber Security

Financial Times: Cost of Cyber Crime Rises Rapidly as Attacks Increase

CSOOnline: Research Suggests Cybersecurity Skills Shortage Is Getting Worse

Cybersecurity Ventures: Cybersecurity Jobs Report 2018-2021

Frost & Sullivan Center for Cyber Safety and Education: 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study

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