The government of UK has declared to conduct its second audit into the state of the country’s cybersecurity workforce. The market research company Ipsos MORI will carry out the survey of private businesses, public sector organizations, and charities. This survey will focus on issues related to the employment and training of cybersecurity professionals.
The audit is hopeful to build on the findings of its first report that got published last year. The first report revealed that more than 50 percent of UK businesses have a basic technical cybersecurity skill gap. In that survey, around 51 percent of respondents accepted that they were not confident in carrying out a cybersecurity risk assessment whereas 47 percent of them lacked confidence in developing security policies.
In fact, around three in five businesses were confident of their ability to conduct penetration testing or perform forensic analysis of their own data. The first audit also revealed that just under half of all the businesses felt they were not sufficiently skilled to work on a cybersecurity breach or attack.
The situation seems even more problematic when we see the kind of risks UK faces. It has been reported that UK businesses faced an average of around 1,46,000 attempted attacks from April 2019 to June 2019 – which is one attack-attempt every 50 seconds.
The authorities hope for the better and improved result after the second audit or else the recruitment and training process of cybersecurity professionals demands for a serious change.
Improved Recruitment Process
There is neither one single type of cyber-attack nor one single type of cybersecurity professionals. However, the tendency of today’s business towards generalization possibly contributes to the rising skill gap.
Almost 1/3rd of businesses have tried to recruit for cybersecurity roles in past few years but the deep-embedded legacy processes often drive the need for better solutions. It is absolutely natural for HR teams to be involved in the hiring process of cyber talent but in absence of specialist technical knowledge can cause inadequate filtration of candidates. In other words, such HR recruiters can be overly dependent on formal accreditation and certifications.
It is important for a business to look out for certified cybersecurity professionals, but this should not be a box-ticking exercise as many of these candidates didn’t have time or resources to go through certifications. Also, the certifications often provided not necessarily imply to keep up with the evolving threat landscape. One-stop solution to these issues can be that HR teams should work with experienced security professionals to identify the right and talented individual and train him up as per the needs.
Need for Better Education System
Within the political offices, the scrutiny for the UK’s education system is rising. Experts believe that trodden but in-demand new career paths are actually not funded well. Cybersecurity is one big part of these under-funded careers.
Despite its growing demand and complexity, university courses related to cybersecurity receive less funding as compared to traditional courses. Not to much of the surprise, non-traditional educational paths receive less government attention.
The situation seems even worse when it has been observed that government spending per higher education student has fallen since 2010.
Beyond the Traditional Approach
However, this lack of educational investment makes companies upskill their workforce in different ways, either by training staff on the job or finding alternative routes to upskill their teams.
A number of training courses are largely classroom-based and offer a tried-and-tested approach. But the prescriptive teaching method doesn’t provide the hands-on experience required to test and push high-performing cybersecurity professionals.
Additionally, the probing nature of tech-industry and hacking ethos associated with it encourage more on-the-job training. In such style of training, professionals are able to see how destructive many threats can be and then pick them apart to find out their operation. It also involves a vital component of creativity which lacks in traditional classrooms.
UK Government’s Initiative
Recently, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) has rolled out a new campaign to attract a wide range of talent into the work of cybersecurity.
Cyber Security Minister Nigel Adams said that the initiative demonstrated government’s commitment to assuring the UK’s cybersecurity industry has a skilled and diverse workforce and, through its new Cyber Security Council, there are clear paths for those wishing to join the profession.
Simon Edwards, IET Director of Governance and External Engagement stated – “It’s fundamental that cybersecurity is seen as a nationally recognized and established profession with clear career pathways.”
Apart from this, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has been selected to assist the designing and delivery of new UK Cyber Security Council to consider the prevailing professional landscape. Its goal is to develop an accessible career path appealing to those who wish to enter the workforce. Although this initiative is a positive step towards building a cybersecurity career, a long term solution to skill shortage would be to address the challenges at the root.