Cybersecurity in a digital world and the war for talent

Written by Merlin Piscitelli, Chief Revenue Officer, EMEA at Datasite

Cybersecurity is complex as it battles insidious threats that directly impact a company’s survival. The number of cybersecurity attacks are increasing both in volume and intensity on a global scale each day, in part due to rising geopolitical tensions and increasingly sophisticated cyberwarfare tactics.

As a result, cybersecurity threats are evolving at a faster pace than ever before, threatening entire businesses, their operations and their hard-won reputations. For example, key microchip and electronic powerhouses were recently hit by cyber-attacks, where sections of their businesses were completely compromised, taken offline for a few days and employee accounts were exposed. Most alarmingly, some of these attacks were carried out by the same hacking extortion group.

In response, combatting cyber-crime has become even more important in an increasingly digital and interconnected world. This is resulting in unprecedented levels of investment pouring into the sector as it becomes a top priority for company leaders, boards, and investors, particularly as governments warn of an increased threat of cyber intrusions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The cybersecurity boom The UK cybersecurity industry contributed £5.3 billion to the economy in 2021, increasing by a third from 2020, and cybersecurity firms have raised more than £1 billion external investments in 84 deals. In fact, in the last 12 months, the cybersecurity sector has achieved double-digit growth and there are now almost 2,000 firms active within the UK, providing cyber security products and services.

Simply put, the pandemic sent the digital revolution into hyperdrive, accelerating consumers adoption of digital solutions and enterprises digitisation strategies. As a result, the demand for cybersecurity expertise increased dramatically.

With cybercriminals constantly exploring new tactics, companies now need cybersecurity solutions to protect a host of new entry points. Yet with over 2.5 million cybersecurity jobs available and the war for talent rapidly gaining momentum, the industry is feeling the strain as the pressure for more defenses intensifies.

Cybersecurity and data protection is a strategic investment and a highly specialized endeavor. It can be more cost-effective (especially for small and medium size firms) to outsource this responsibility and partner with a vendor to design and implement solutions. Business leaders will need to ensure they are working with a reputable partner that can offer the best level of protection and technical expertise to fit organizational needs.

Addressing the ‘skills gap’ Despite the rapid market boom, the UK’s cybersecurity talent pool has fallen short by around 10,000 people a year. In fact, the UK’s cyber skills shortage rose by more than a third in the previous 12 months and cybersecurity is now the most sought-after tech skill in the UK. With more than half, 54%, of UK CEOs believing cybersecurity presents the best opportunity for TMT dealmaking over the next year, demand will rapidly outstrip supply of expertise unless drastic action is taken.

Investing in the workforce

So far, businesses have responded to this through a number of different strategies. When asked what the main drivers of recent and future cross-border technology acquisitions are, one-third of UK M&A professionals surveyed cited access to skilled/specialised talent.

To continue to mitigate against cyber-attacks and manage risk, businesses must invest in their workforce to ensure they have access to the necessary resources to protect their digital ecosystem and sustain business momentum.

Upskilling individuals already working in the tech space, along with attracting new talent, will be crucial to tackling the current professional shortfall. To truly overcome the war for talent, businesses will need to acknowledge the correlation between the skills shortage and the lack of inclusivity and bring more meaningful levels of diversity to the sector.

Ultimately, addressing the current skills gap requires a joint effort from governments, industries and academia, and cannot be left to businesses alone. Awareness campaigns encouraging universities, schools and training organisations to promote cybersecurity as an exciting field and one with vast career opportunities can also go a long way to re-directing the current imbalance.

It is only by investing in developing cybersecurity talent that will we have enough people with the expertise required to protect organisations digital ecosystems as the threat landscape becomes more diverse.

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