Unsurprisingly, given the current state of cybercrime, IT security skills are more in demand than ever. The problem is that there are more IT security positions available than there are qualified professionals to fill them.
According to InfoSecurity Magazine, there are currently over 210,000 vacant cybersecurity jobs - and that's just in the United States. On a global scale, it exceeds 1 million, with some analysts projecting the number of unfilled IT security jobs to reach 6 million by 2019.
Of course, without the talent needed to identify and assess risks - let alone resolve or prevent them - your business is especially vulnerable to attack. That's why you need to take a strategic approach to closing that IT security skills gap. It starts with focusing on three key areas: technology, processes and people.
1. Updated technology
Implementing the proper tools to safeguard systems and making sure that legacy technology is regularly updated, monitored and maintained is a necessity, as a little proactivity goes a long way and outdated systems pose a major security risk. Although antivirus software, end-to-end encryption, firewalls and other types of network security tools can help keep data secure, they are not an end-all solution to data breach prevention. Relying too heavily on traditional IT security technology is a passive, patchwork approach.
Automated and other advanced tools can help your business fill the IT security skills gap. These cutting-edge solutions - sometimes based on artificial intelligence - can access and analyze more data at a quicker pace than security pros. In the age of sophisticated cybercrime, that kind of real-time analysis is critical.
That said, those advanced tools are only truly valuable when paired with sound cybersecurity risk management policies and maintained by trained IT professionals.
2. In-depth policies and procedures
Waiting until you are breached to prioritize risk management is one of the biggest yet most common mistakes you can make. You should put comprehensive incident response plans in place and regularly conduct risk assessments.
Dark Reading suggested that your cybersecurity risk management process should include a security map that includes risk profiles for all aspects of critical infrastructure and applications. This multi-layered approach to risk management provides you with a better view of security architecture and, ultimately, a stronger defense strategy. Furthermore, it will allow your IT teams to determine the biggest areas of threat, then prioritize their focus accordingly. And that's really important when you're trying to cope with the IT security skills gap.
3. Ongoing cybersecurity training
The solution to most tech problems is often easier than you originally think. For example, if your laptop is slow or behaving strangely, turning it off and back on again usually does the trick. The best way to bridge the IT security skills gap is just as obvious of a solution: Train your existing staff.
In today's ever-evolving threat landscape, IT security pros must be in the know when it comes to new and emerging threats, as well as cutting-edge techniques and practices.
One of the most effective yet often overlooked ways to compensate for the current shortfall in IT security skills is to seek out external training resources. By making IT security training part of your business strategy, you will not only be able to achieve a greater level of defense, but you will also improve your chances of retaining existing IT talent - which, given the skills shortage, offers a competitive advantage.
Leveraging the latest technologies, implementing security policies and enrolling in IT security training are all important measures to take. However, individually, they only offer so much. To realize the greatest benefits, you must integrate all three.