Critical lack of skills could be the biggest security challenge
Training and Development

Critical lack of skills could be the biggest security challenge

While we’ve seen some great technological advancements made over the years, new challenges have arisen. And cybercrime sits at the top of the list. Cyber criminals have identified a unique opportunity to gain access to valuable data and compromise critical infrastructure systems.

Millions of cyberattacks occur worldwide on yearly basis and the results are catastrophic. A report [PDF] from McAfee suggests that such crime costs the global economy between $300 billion and $1 trillion. Clearly, governments, public bodies, organisations and companies right around the world can’t let cybercrime keep rising.

The big issue, however, is that there’s a real lack of professionals who can respond to complex cyber security threats. Intel Security claims that 82 per cent of global IT professionals admit a shortage of cyber security specialists.

Although this is a challenge, people and firms are beginning to look for change. In particular, they’re training the cyber security specialists of the future - the people who’ll be on the frontline in the war against cyber criminals.


The importance of training

Cyber security specialists have an important role in modern businesses, and it’s likely that the need for them will become more potent over the next few years. NTT Security, a global information security professional and managed security services organisation, has invested significant resources and time into building a fully functioning cyber security operation.

It’s actively looking to employ young people and train them to become sophisticated cyber security professionals. Stewart Brooks, who is director of global talent acquisition at NTT Security, is responsible for managing and attracting new talent into the business.

“We take the opportunity to join initiatives and schemes that can help attract individuals, for example last year we joined the Movement to Work initiative, a voluntary collaboration of UK employers committed to tackling youth unemployment through the provision of high quality vocational training and work experience opportunities to young people leaving school,” he says.

“As we look to work closer with schools and colleges to encourage young people into cybersecurity, it’s great to start working in partnership with Movement to Work – not only to bring young talent into our industry, but to also help change people’s lives.”


Decision makers must take notice

A coordinated hack can easily take down a firm, especially if it relies on complex technological infrastructure. As a result, companies need to keep ahead of the curve and ensure their IT teams have the knowledge to protect integral systems.

Michael Keegan, head of product business at tech giant Fujitsu, explains that cyber security training and response strategies need to be at the heart of decision making. He adds that executives need to ensure their companies and staff have the right resources to stop cyber criminals in their tracks, or they risk facing great consequences.

“In 2016 cybersecurity grew from one of the many business threats to the biggest challenge posed in today’s digitally-driven world. Yahoo’s huge data breach revealed last year is just one example of why cybersecurity will be fundamental for businesses in 2017,” he says.

“What Yahoo’s situation plainly shows is that the C-suite mustn’t shy away from cyber threats and should instead drive the response, ensuring the business is best prepared to deal with all security challenges.”

“In a world where cybersecurity has an untold power to damage a business beyond repair, IT leaders that prepare and embrace active cyber prevention methods can protect their business from harm. Organisations that do not sit-up and implement a proactive response will not only set themselves up for failure but potentially face becoming the Yahoo of 2017.”


UK initiatives to tackle the problem

The cyber security industry is highly lucrative, churning over hundreds of billions of dollars annually. But while it’s fair to say that it’s established and advanced, there has been some criticism about the lack of effective accredited cyber security training. However, this is quickly changing as more organisations and professionals identify the threats posed by cybercrime.

There are a lot of things happening in the UK, in particular. Last year, the Welsh Government teamed up with the University of South Wales to launch a specialist cyber security training facility in the city of Newport. Aptly named the National Cyber Security Academy, it’s aimed at developing the next generation of cyber specialists.

It takes a highly practical approach, offering a dedicated degree in cyber security. The centre, which cost the Welsh Government £500,000 ($608,000) to develop, works with industry partners such as Innovation Point, Airbus, General Dynamics UK, Alert Logic, Information Assurance, QinetiQ, Silcox Information Security, Westgate Cyber and Wolfberry.

Stephen Biggs, who is one of the lecturers at the centre, tells IDG Connect that it is looking to equip students with the right skills to be able to fight modern cybercrime techniques. “The University of South Wales (USW) works closely with industry to ensure higher education provision across all areas remains contemporary,” he says.

“As part of its recent release of the Cyber Security Strategy (2016), the UK Government, in conjunction with businesses of all sizes in the region and beyond, has identified concerns about a gap in cyber skills.

“USW has embraced this challenge, and from this September will provide training in the skills needed to fill the cyber skills gap, and will ensure that more work-ready graduates are ready to fill vacant roles from as early as the summer of 2020.

“Industry has already been influential in the development of the course during its pilot year, and these relationships are being nurtured further and expanded to guide the projects students work on, and to provide the sound foundation for the next generation of work-ready cyber professionals to tackle ever-growing cyber threats.”


Also read:
What will be the single biggest security threat of 2017?
What will the ‘mega security breach’ of the future look like?
Does the CISO role need to be formalised?
First board level cyber training due to launch in Feb
Fleeting strategic importance? 2016, the year of the CISO



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Nicholas Fearn

Nicholas is a technology journalist from the Welsh valleys. He's written for a plethora of respected media sources, including The Next Web, Techradar, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, TrustedReviews, Alphr, TechWeekEurope and Mail Online, and edits Wales's leading tech publication. When he's not geeking out over Game of Thrones, he's investigating ways tech can change our lives in many different ways.

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