#HowTo: Solve the UK's Shortage of Cybersecurity Experts

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Cybersecurity is critical in the modern world, with our business information, finances, personal data and even identities all accessible online. Without cybersecurity experts, everyone is vulnerable to cyber-threats, especially as cyber-criminals devise new ways to hack systems all the time. So, with this in mind, why is there such a shortage of cybersecurity experts in the UK? More importantly, what can we do about it?

According to the Cyber Security Skills in the Labor Market 2021 Report, 50% of businesses have significant gaps in knowledge when it comes to cybersecurity. This means that the staff employed to manage cybersecurity, or those who oversee it as part of their role, lack the skills and knowledge to carry out basic cybersecurity procedures. This includes essential skills such as setting up a firewall or detecting and removing malware. In terms of more advanced cyber protection, such as penetration testing and security architecture, 33% of businesses who have basic knowledge lack these skills to ensure the proper protection of their online systems.

This huge gap in knowledge puts many businesses and individuals at significant risk from cyber-threats. But why? Are they unaware of these threats to their online safety, or is there another reason for them not having cybersecurity experts?

The latest Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) sector figures show that a third of vacancies in the IT sector are due to skills shortages. With cyber-attacks becoming more frequent and experts needed now more than ever, it is no surprise that there are simply not enough cybersecurity experts in the UK. However, it is not just that they need experts to install the advanced cyber protection; their other workers are also in great need of knowing the basics of cybersecurity.

Working with technology is far from being limited to IT specialists, with the majority of businesses storing important information on computer systems. Employees across sectors are also working with computers daily, and their awareness of cybersecurity is essential to protect staff and customer data. According to a recent study, three in five (60%) of UK workers fell victim to a cyber-attack, with many staff noting that they are unaware of security risks or simply do not worry about them. Waiting for a cybersecurity expert with many years of training and qualifications is just not possible for many businesses, especially as their data is at risk every single day.

With this in mind, educating and training current staff members should be the key priority for UK businesses. Instead of going in with the mentality of having to hire new cyber experts who are few and far between, ensuring that all employees have at least a basic level of cybersecurity knowledge is far more effective. By investing in employee training, you should equip your staff, who are already familiar with the systems you use and data that might be vulnerable, with the ability to fight against potential threats. After all, what are the costs of training employees against the cost of having your business fall victim to a malware attack?

Furthermore, businesses should ensure that there is at least one member of staff whose role is to oversee cybersecurity in the organization. This would include ensuring that staff are taking the proper security precautions, implementing cybersecurity training and staying up to date with new attack trends so they can implement up-to-date protection.

Cybersecurity will become more vital as technology advances and our world becomes increasingly cyber-centric. Therefore, teaching children the importance of cybersecurity from a young age can ensure we have future generations of people who are far less likely to become victims of cyber-attacks. Although schools are teaching children the importance of cybersecurity, it is not currently enough, with over half of UK teachers lacking confidence in their school's cybersecurity teaching, according to a recent survey by Internet Matters with support from ESET.

Cybersecurity is vital in protecting against one of the most prevalent crimes of the 21st century. Cybersecurity is key to protecting data for individuals and organizations but is also a subject that most people know very little about. Training current staff is the best way to ensure cyber protection for businesses looking to protect their digital data, rather than waiting for a fully trained cyber expert. Not only are they in incredibly high demand, but by investing in current employees, organizations can trust loyal staff who are familiar with the data and systems which need protection against cybercrime. In addition, ensuring children are taught cybersecurity in schools will provide future generations with an awareness of and education in cybercrime and how to protect against it.

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