Solving the Global Cybersecurity Skills Gap in Two Simple Steps

If you ask anyone with some experience in the IT industry what their biggest current challenge is, there’s a good chance that their answer will, in some way, revolve around the topics of network and data security. By now, given the voluminous news coverage of each new data breach and ransomware attack, that should come as no surprise. However, although the problem is obvious, it does not appear that the public or private sectors are making much progress in addressing it.

One of the big impediments to doing so is a large and persistent lack of skilled cybersecurity workers all around the world. Some analysts have placed the shortfall as high as 4 million workers. It is fair to say that if nothing is done, the digital space is going to keep getting more dangerous for businesses and everyday users alike.

If it were a simple problem to solve, it is a safe bet that it would have happened already. Since it hasn’t, it is high time that businesses and governments around the world start considering a new comprehensive approach to developing the workforce needed to secure the digital world in perpetuity. Here are the two simple things they have to do.

Ramp-Up Public Spending in Workforce Retraining

For all of the attention that the deteriorating global cybersecurity landscape gets, there’s been precious little action aimed at training people with the skills they need to be part of the solution. Right now, as many of the advanced economies continue the transition to digitization and automation, there is a short window of time left to transition soon-to-be-displaced workers into productive, future-forward careers.

A perfect example of how to do it already exists in Australia. The regional governments there have taken an active role in closing the yawning cybersecurity skills gap that exists nationwide. The New South Wales government, for example, is subsidizing cybersecurity training for anyone who wants it. The program, which covers up to 75% of costs for students to get their first professional certification, should serve as a model for other nations to follow. When you also consider that Australian universities make it easy to earn up to a master’s level degree in cybersecurity without setting foot in a classroom, filling the talent pipeline shouldn’t be an unattainable goal for them once students get started.

Businesses Should Prioritize AI Security Tools

As governments make bigger and better efforts to supply qualified cybersecurity professionals in their local labor pools, businesses are going to have to meet them halfway by investing in more AI-powered security tools to reduce the workload on overstretched IT staff. They should begin the process right away, even as the technology in that area continues to develop apace.

To get started, businesses should prioritize investment in machine learning systems in their threat detection and categorization operations. Since that is an area with some mature solutions on the market and also one of the more labor-intensive parts of any network security strategy, it is a logical place to start to both increase defenses and decrease labor needs. In other words, it helps reduce talent needs without sacrificing security to do it.

Balancing Supply and Demand

By doing just these two simple things, the public and private sectors can work together to balance the supply and demand for cybersecurity workers, all while making the digital world a much safer place for everyone. On the government side of the ledger, it would reduce unemployment and help to dampen the economic shocks that are sure to come as more automation upends labor markets. As for businesses, they’d get an adequate supply of talent and a far better overall security posture without having to stay vulnerable in the interim.

That’s all there is to it! So, all that remains is for stakeholders around the world to get serious about solving the cybersecurity problems that we all face. If they do, it won’t take long to make the current cybersecurity talent gap a thing of the past, which would be a good thing for all involved.

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