By 2021, there will be more than 3.5 million unfilled jobs in the cybersecurity sector.

The statistic from Cybersecurity Ventures published in June 2017, highlighted the growing structural deficit of security professionals. The cybersecurity skills gap continues to grow – but just how large and severe is it? And what can businesses do to mitigate the problem?

Bridging the cybersecurity skills gap is one of the biggest challenges organisations face today – and many are already struggling. Few organisations have the resources to deal with the growing threat posed by cyber criminals and advanced attacks. Viruses, malware and other threats are increasingly diverse and complex, and most organisations lack the staff and skill to deal with the threats appearing now, let alone the ones that will appear in the future.

  • Hire and train more talent

    Organisations need to acquire the best cybersecurity analysts and use them as mentors for talented but inexperienced cybersecurity trainees.

    The benefit is twofold. On the one hand, organisations benefit from the expertise that trained analysts can provide, and on the other, cybersecurity trainees learn from the best and can quickly get up to speed.

Only 1 in 10 organisations have cybersecurity experts on their teams

A study conducted earlier this year by Forrester Consulting for Hiscox, revealed that only 11% of the organisations reviewed actually had ‘experts’ on their security teams and were, therefore, well prepared to face cybersecurity challenges. On the other hand, nearly three-quarters of organisations (73%) fell into the novice category, suggesting they had a long way to go before they were ‘cyber ready’.

With skilled cybersecurity professionals in short supply, it’s expected that organisations will continue to struggle to fill cybersecurity positions with the right employees.

  • Outsource endpoint security management to specialist service providers or managed detection and response teams

    Gartner estimates that, by 2020, 50% of managed security service providers (MSSPs) will offer Managed, Detection and Response (MR) services.

    For organisations unable to hire or train cybersecurity analysts as quickly as possible, outsourcing cybersecurity management (or elements of it) to specialist service providers, or MDR teams is a viable option. This should reduce the risk with 24/7 threat monitoring, detection and response capabilities, and also give organisations access to the best cybersecurity professionals.

    With such an approach, organisations can augment their existing cybersecurity network, providing an additional layer of protection, as well as use the expertise provided by MDR teams to get insight, actionable advice, threat context and coverage.

Almost half of security alerts are not investigated

According the Cisco 2017 Security Capabilities Benchmark Study, 44% – almost half – of security alerts are not investigated.

The study found that, due to “various constraints”, such as resource, budget and lack of trained personnel, organisations can only investigate 56% of the security alerts they receive. Of the alerts investigated, only 46% are remediated, leaving 54% of those alerts unresolved.

The main problem is that security alerts need to be reviewed and remediated manually. Cybersecurity systems can flag threats, yes, but those threats also need to be manually verified and prioritised by analysts. As a result, the process takes significantly longer – and with so many threats being received on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that many go unchecked.

  • Invest in more robust and accurate cybersecurity systems

    A major challenge for organisations is the remediation and reprioritisation of threats. Cybersecurity systems can detect issues, but often those issues need to be resolved manually. According to our own research, more than half of the cybersecurity professionals we reviewed estimated that half of threat alerts are improperly reprioritised by systems and had to be fixed manually.

    With many organisations’ security teams stretched thin and responding to an overwhelming number of threats on a daily basis, systems need to be honed and adapted as threats evolve and increase. That is the only way to truly be cyber resilient.

Don’t make the mistake of treating cybersecurity as a “technical problem” and delegate it to the IT department. The reality is that cybersecurity is a business-wide issue. Defending an organisation from cyber-attack requires an understanding of what is at stake.

The IT department can resolve the issue, sure, but what’s the point if poor employee practice means that they face another problem as soon as one is fixed?

Wider business context and an appreciation of business risk, exposure and priorities is needed. Departments within organisations need to work together with the IT department, not as a separate entity.

If you want to learn more about the cybersecurity skills gap, the threats facing modern businesses, and how best to prepare for and combat those threats, download our report by clicking the button below.

Download the PandaLabs Anual Report 2017