Arguably cyber security was the most talked about topic in technology last year due to the announcement of a number of high profile hacks on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s database (WADA), Tesco bank and Yahoo, to name a few.  The result - Cyber security is now perceived by tech professionals as the biggest potential disruptor to the tech industry over the next five years. 

With the number of cyber hacks set to cost organisations $2.1 trillion globally by 2019 and with the ever evolving and widening range of attacks such as ransomware and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) becoming more and more prominent, it may come as no surprise that our Technology: Voice of the Workforce research, which surveyed over 1,600 technology professionals from around the world, found Cyber Security to be the biggest potential disruptor. 
Cyber security beat other hot technology innovations such as IoT (40%), Big Data (40%), automated technology (39%) and 5G (26%) as well as political/policy changes (42%) to take the top spot as the biggest disruptor.

So how will cyber security cause disruption?  And how can we limit the impact? Jon Martin, Cyber Security & Cloud Department Manager, Networkers sets out the types of disruptions we can expect to see and how organisations can make steps to prepare for the future.

Disrupting the traditional IT career path

Our research found that amongst IT professionals, IT Security is the most desirable skillset to transfer into. This highlights the awareness IT professionals have about the growing field of cyber security and the desire they have for developing their career in this discipline. Out of those IT professionals who have already changed skill sets, 45% claimed it was easy to transfer so why are we still suffering from a serious lack of skills? And what can the industry do to help facilitate this change?

Jonathan Martin, Cyber Security & Cloud Department Manager, Networkers, comments:

“There is a great desire from IT professionals from different backgrounds such as 2nd and 3rd line support to transfer into IT security and with so many transferable skills, like problem solving, attention to detail and crisis management, it is a relevant career path for these individuals to take.”

“The willingness for IT professionals to transfer into IT security presents a great opportunity for organisations to upskill existing IT staff and help reduce the pressure on the number of new IT security experts employers need to recruit. If organisations are open to put those with an interest in IT security through certifications such as Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), they will be better prepared for the future.”

Disrupting business plans and priorities

Other results show that a third (32%) of IT professionals feel their organisation is proactive in implementing changes to be fit for the future. Moreover, 1 in 5 of IT professionals say the company where they work has communicated that they will be upskilling existing employees with the required skills. However, 30% say that they have not had any communication from their company about what they are doing to tackle the skills shortage. This suggests that although some companies are proactive in addressing the skills shortage, a number of other companies are not aware of the resources they need now and in the future.

Jonathan Martin explains what this lack of preparedness could mean for the industry:

“It’s concerning that so few IT professionals say that their organisation is proactive in implementing changes to be fit for the future. With the GDPR legislation set to be enforced in 2018, organisations are running out of time to either upskill their existing staff in security or recruit new staff who already possess these hard-to-find skills. If they fail in their preparations they could not only put customer data at risk but also face huge fines from the regulator.”

Disruption to skills needed now and in the future

So what are the most critical positions that need to be filled to be ready in time for the GDPR legislation? Which positions need to be upskilled? And what advice can be given to those who are open and willing to transfer into cyber security?

Jonathan Martin explains:

“Organisations need to ensure they upskill or recruit Security Consultants, Penetration Testers and Security Analysts. These positions can evolve from a variety of different areas from Web Developers to Network or Systems Administrators. For those looking to enter the security market, it is worth being aware of the current skillsets in demand such as ISO27000/1, PCI-DSS, ISMS and CISSP, and to seek positions or training that will give you knowledge of these.”

Disrupting normal work behaviours

Due to a high proportion of cyber security risks arising through a company’s own staff, there is also a requirement for companywide education on cyber security practices. A recent study by Intel Security found that a large proportion (43%) of data breaches and security hacks are caused internally by employees acting irresponsibly or unwittingly meddling with the company’s data and systems. This can have huge implications on the reputation of the company as their use of data is slandered on the news.

Jonathan Martin describes the importance of educating all staff on cyber security: “There is need to educate all staff in security awareness and best practice to ensure that the company is better prepared to avoid potential security risks in the future. More senior positions in cyber security such as Chief Information Security Officers (CISO), or Governance and Risk Managers could help ensure this education is delivered.”

While the disruptive force of cyber security is already beginning to intensify, there are signs that the industry is responding to the deficit of skilled cyber security professionals by upskilling existing staff. Encouragement can also be taken from the number of IT professionals who wish to transfer into IT security, which could help fill the skills void. However, in order to be prepared for the anticipated increase in security hacks, organisations not only need to sharpen up their cyber defences by increasing their training of existing staff but also recruit new security specialists and educate all other staff in the organisation as to the importance of security. Only time will tell if the world is ready for the level of cyber disruption expected over the next five years.

To see our latest cyber security jobs click here.

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