How to Prevent the Cybersecurity Talent Gap from Slowing You Down  

Nearly every type of business has had to contend with staffing shortages of some type over the past few years. Talent that is in demand is hard to find, and it’s especially true in cybersecurity. Unfortunately, the lack of cybersecurity professionals in the field today presents greater challenges than just filling job openings. 

The Consequences of the Cybersecurity Talent Gap

According to Gartner, 80% of all data security breaches are the result of system misconfigurations. Unfortunately, one third of the respondents in a study released in 2021 stated that staffing shortages have contributed to the prevalence of system configurations. The same ratio also blamed staffing shortages for not allowing enough time for proper risk assessment, management, and patching efforts. There seems to be a direct relationship in that the risk of a cybersecurity incident to your organization increases relative to your cybersecurity talent gap. 

The Critical Cybersecurity Skill Gap

According to another recent survey, 95% of cybersecurity professionals think that the skill gap prevalent in their field has not improved, and 44% think it has grown worse. It’s not just skills that are in short supply. It’s people too. Even with a record 4.7 million cybersecurity professionals employed, the world is still short an estimated 3.4 million workers. In the U.S. alone that number is 700,000. According to a 2021 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, the global cybersecurity workforce needs to grow 65% to effectively defend organizations’ critical assets. It’s not just a problem with supply, it’s an issue of retention as well. Over one third of cybersecurity professionals plan a career change at some point, which will create even more positions to fill. 

It’s Time for Solutions

Yes, there is a definite shortage of people with the cybersecurity skills needed to keep companies safe today. The numbers don’t lie and it’s easy to get wrapped up in the bad news. What businesses need are solutions. A good place to start might be in looking at the manufacturing industry. Deloitte predicts there will be a shortage of some two million manufacturing jobs by 2030.  According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2022, even if every skilled worker in America was employed, there would still be 35% more unfilled job openings in the durable goods manufacturing sector than skilled workers capable of filling them. To deal with the labor challenge, manufacturers are being proactive in dealing with it. In 2021, manufacturers deployed robotic workers at a record rate, 29,000 just in the first quarter alone. By leveraging AI and ML, manufacturers plan to be less dependent on manual labor. Automation can be the key for the cybersecurity industry as well.

Automation Brings Speed and Scalability

If you depend on logs and alerts to keep abreast of the cybersecurity threats within your network, then you are already behind the curve. Hackers today work with speed and precision. Their attacks are planned and strategic. They often don’t start the primary attack until they have scouted out the complete IT estate of their targeted victim. That’s why at the very least you must be able to react instantly when that attack comes. Better yet, you need constant intelligence that can decipher what types of traffic behavior is indicative of a possible future attack.

The utilization of AI integrated security tools more than makes up for the dearth of boots on the ground. Internal IT staff and security professionals spend too much time today occupied with tedious repetitive tasks that can easily be performed by automated tools. Task automation allows them to dedicate more of their time and effort towards the task of protecting the network. 

Unfortunately, the time required for toggling between multiple security admin consoles and checking logs of multiple disparate infrastructure tools and computers far exceeds the available time for even a dedicated team of security professionals. That’s where automated surveillance comes in. AI integrated security systems can monitor traffic 24/7 to identify suspicious behavior that deserves added attention. These intelligence-based systems can also aggregate logs and alerts from a multitude of technology devices and platforms and funnel this information into a centralized database. 

The Importance of Versatility

Hackers are highly versatile and it’s one of the reasons for their success. They aren’t committed to one single attack methodology, and they don’t focus exclusively on one type of target. They go where the money is. It might be a financial institution one day and a school system the next week. Whether they encrypt the data or exfiltrate it, hackers just want to get paid.

That’s why it’s important to be versatile in your cyber defense strategies as well. One way to achieve this is to be as tech agnostic as possible when acquiring your portfolio of security tools. This prevents the costly practice of vendor lock in that limits flexibility and may require dedicated specialists. 

Versatility can also be achieved through personnel. Too often, hiring decisions are driven by who satisfies the checkboxes of required certifications, experience, and education. That practice is beginning to change however as more than 50% of today’s cyber talent comes from outside of IT, with 17% coming from unrelated fields altogether.

Why SMBs Should Use a SOC

As challenging as the skill gap is for large corporations, it is especially daunting for SMBs, yet 78% of SMBs report security as their number one concern. While attaining greater versality through hiring practices and technology agnostic decision making sounds good in theory, 40% of SMBs don’t even have an internal IT department. They also can’t afford to implement and maintain their own AI security system. However, they can afford access to them through a third-party provider. Many SMBs are turning to MDR (managed detection and response), SOCaaS (SOC as a service), or a SOC Platform as solutions to augment their security tool sets and fill in critical security personnel gaps.

While MDRs and SOCs monitor security events using AI and aggregated real time data, a SOC offers greater versatility and customization, allowing it to integrate with a company’s existing security stack more easily. While a SOC may not give you boots on the ground on site, you do get the benefit of a dedicated remote team of security professionals that are highly experienced in threat detection and remediation. These teams also know how to fully leverage your own tool sets to maximize their effectiveness. 

Conclusion

Most SMBs today are challenged with filling the security gaps within their IT estate as well as the talent gaps within their own personnel. A SOC is a great way to deal with both. As critical as today’s shortage of cybersecurity talent may be today, there’s no guarantee it’s going to get better, and you don’t have the luxury of waiting around if it does. Partnering with a reputable SOC Platform like CYREBRO closes these critical in-house gaps for your SMB so that access to security talent can be a given, even in times when it seems that security is so hard to obtain.

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