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Spotlight: The Cyber Security Skills Gap

Produced by Kandy Shaw  |  12 May 2017

 

The general consensus of businesses today is that digital and IT skills are even more important now than they were two years ago, yet many also say that they have a shortage of digital skills.  Basic computer skills are most important, closely followed by communication and connection through digital channels and the management of digital information.  With the amount of unskilled staff members, however, these three key business areas are difficult to maintain efficiently.

Today’s business environment is constantly under threat both externally in the form of cyber-attacks and pressure from competitors and internally with the loss of key team members and under-performing staff.  Skills shortage in a company increases the workload of existing staff and generates higher operating costs.  As well as this, it causes difficulty in meeting customer requirements.  It is estimated that the UK’s lack of digital know-how is costing £63bn per year.

In particular, cyber security, being a people-intensive and highly skilled discipline, means that a lack of qualified professionals and the increased workload of existing staff has caused serious security and data breaches.  Remember the TalkTalk hack of 2015?  Attackers took advantage of a major technical weakness in the TalkTalk system that was not detected until it was too late.  The company lost £60 million as a result of the attack and was fined £400,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office for security failings.  Added to that, their share price dropped by 10% within the first few hours of the breach being reported.

In a survey of 437 cyber security professionals and International Securities Services Association (ISSA) members, 35% stated that because staff were so under pressure due to the shortage of skilled team members they were just too busy to be able to learn to use cyber technology to its’ full potential.  In response to this shortage, UK Government is providing funding for advanced technologies and has earmarked £93 million over the next four years to be spent on the artificial intelligence industry.  As well, industries are educating and supporting the younger generation to become involved with technology.  All this said, however, there is still a shortfall in emphasis on retraining the existing workforce; a workforce already being displaced by technological advances.

 

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