Modern hacking technology can easily break through traditional security measures. This makes cybersecurity a priority role in the post-pandemic world
The pandemic saw a worldwide reliance on online transactions on a scale that was never witnessed before. Necessity put adoption of technology on the fast track, whether or not there was ample infrastructure. And despite a COVID-free dawn staring at us, it is now evident that our digital and online habits will stay and keep growing.
However, in tune with ever-expanding online activities, incidents of cybercrime have risen manifold. As a result, the importance of cybersecurity in the IT environment is skyrocketing. However, although organisations unanimously acknowledge that a dedicated cybersecurity team is non-negotiable in the current scenario, the industry is facing an acute supply crunch of cybersecurity skills. This talent shortage is prevalentin India as well as in theglobal perspective, and businesses are ready to pay a premium of 40-50% for cybersecurity experts as compared to mainstream IT roles at similar levels.
A lot of money at stake
Conventional identity validation, access management and security preventive controls are not sufficient in protecting identity systems from malicious attacks. According to a recent Gartner report, state-of-the-art hacking technology can easily break through long-trusted security measures like multi-factor authentication. This makes identity threat detection and response activities a priority cybersecurity issue in the post-pandemic world.
A survey conducted by Statistain early 2022 revealed that on an average 66% of organisations around the world fell prey to ransomware attacks in 2021.The following table displays the percentage share of organisations in select countries that were victims to such attacks as per Statista:
Naturally, all such events are not always reported, and it can be safely assumed that actual numbers are even higher.
These figures contain a more ominous statistic. Considering the fact that cyberattacks are almost always targeted with financial motives, every successful cybercrime would dearly cost the victim. It has been variously estimated that the average cost of a ransomware attack can be as high as $1.8 million, while the average cost of cybercrime for an affected organisation would be around $13 million. Also, the estimated cybercrime damagesgloballyincurred per secondamount to $190,000. Evidently, a lot of money is at stake and businesses are desperate for preventive measures.
The demand-supply gap
Businesses across sectors are concentratingon implementing end-to-end online security solutions – and as quickly as possible. This huge demand has been stretching the boundaries of the concerned talent pool. As per Nasscomestimates,there arecurrentlyaround 250,000 cybersecurity professionals in India. This number isestimated to be 340,000 by early 2023. This means a steep rise of 40% within a very short time span. No other IT-related role can hope for such a spike.
The problem is:Cybersecurity skills are still not a regular part of general college curricula – with only a handful of forward-looking institutes offering curated courses on the subject. So, it is not an easy task for the recruiters to bridge the demand-supply gap. In absence of a ready-to-absorb talent pool, recruiting companies haveno other recourse but to fall back on the “hire-train-deploy”model of staffing. They have to design customised training modules on cybersecurity. Freshers from allied domains and with the requisite aptitude are then hired and trained to meet the specific requirements of the job.
Given the ground realities, recruiters are not even looking at engineering or IT graduates to fill in the positions – freshers with logical reasoning and problem-solving abilities are being trained for careers incybersecurity. It’s a win-win situation, because while new graduates are getting initiated to a cutting-edge career option with pay-packages that are higher by 40-50% as compared to other IT roles at similar levels, the companies are getting custom-trained talent to fit the bill.
Anyone with the right skills can fit in
So, what are the essential skillset an aspiring cybersecurity professional must possess?While one need not be an engineer or a trained software professional, strong problem-solving capabilities and through technical knowledge are always welcome.It is preferable thata candidate be conversant in any or a few or all of the following:
- Logical reasoningabilities
- Programming fundamentals
- Scripting/Coding knowledge
- Network and Systems Architecture/Administration
- Cloud security systems
Recruiters essentially look for logical thinkers with the mindset of an ethical hacker and a passion for solving complex puzzles. It is mandatory that a cybersecurity aspirant be a continuous learner, as hackers will keep changing their technologies and modes of operation. It is not a relaxing job and tensions run high as data security is a critical issue; hence, one must be ready to handle 24×7 emergencies and the consequent stress at work. The in-demand roles in this field includes ethical hacking, malware research, information systems auditor, IoT security specialist, Cloud security analyst and SOC analyst.
Skill development is still one area that the industry needs to address. As of now, working cybersecurity professionals have to rely on online courses available on various edtech platforms to further their competence. This is where organisations must take an active interest. An ideal situation would be one in which a robust industry-academia collaboration leads to development of thecybersecurity domain as a specialised area of study in its own right.
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