As technology continues to advance above and beyond what we ever thought possible, so does our dependance on it. Both businesses and the individual rely on digital technology to help perform day-to-day tasks.
From the mundane to the complex, we use a combination of hardware and software to sift through tons of data every day. For an organization, making sure that this data is secure at all times is crucial. Cybersecurity has begun playing an increasingly important role in a company’s strategy for data protection.
The obstacle that many businesses are facing, however, is finding the right people to manage this role. In order to safeguard all of this data, hardware, and software, organizations need trained professionals in cybersecurity.
Unfortunately, the talent pool is proving limited. For this reason, businesses are forced to adjust their approach in compensation and the hiring process, as well as the training process. Partnership strategy is affected by the talent gap.
Cybersecurity Talent Gap
Data breaches, or attempts, have become a routine event within organizations. These attempts to gain access to data without permission are called cyber incidents. Denials of service or disruptions are also types of cyber incidents. Since they happen so often, we rarely hear about them. However, incidents involving large organizations do make the news. Equifax and Marriott are examples of high-profile data breaches where the personal information of millions of customers were exposed. The Office of Management and Budget revealed that over 35,000 cyber incidents were reported by federal agencies in 2018.
Although cyber incidents have come to be expected, it is not something that should be taken lying down. Organizations know this, as these events tend to hit them right where it hurts - their reputation and revenue stream. A study by IBM reported that a data breach costs an average of almost $8 million in the U.S.
The huge cost is one of the reasons as to why there is such a high demand for professionals trained in cybersecurity and safeguarding consumer data. CyberSeek reported over 300,000 jobs available in this field and over 7,000 of them are in Ohio. Open positions include systems engineers, IT auditors, cybersecurity analysts, and other tech security experts. As the frequency of cyber incidents continues to rise, so will the need for more protection.
Unfortunately, we are seeing a vicious cycle. The shortage of tech security experts is forcing the cost of labor to rise. As the price goes up, the lack of filled positions is prolonged. The starting salary of a data-security analyst is over $120,000. Organizations will continue to be at risk for data breaches or cyber incidents until they get the right people in there to manage these issues.
According to Jeff Schmidt, Columbus Collaboratory’s vice president and chief cybersecurity innovator, businesses with smaller margins without many regulatory requirements will most likely understaff these roles. He also said that cybersecurity professionals would end up being overpaid as an incentive for them to move quickly to another opportunity. As these individuals begin to jump jobs so quickly, they may miss out on the chance to grow within a single position. Schmidt believes this will impact future leadership positions, as these individuals may not have the maturity or skill level to evolve into a managerial role.
Finding a Solution
In an effort to find a solution to the shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals in Central Ohio, businesses are partnering with schools, not-for-profits, and the government.
One organization that is working toward a solution is the Columbus Collaboratory. They received $14 million in 2018 from its founding companies to further their efforts in sharing research, as well as focusing on customers through improved efficiency and security. They also have a program that provides cybersecurity experience to recent college graduates. Candidates will only spend two years in the program, yet gain five years’ worth of experience.
The Ohio Cyber Collaboration Committee is another group with the goal of building a more substantial cybersecurity workforce across Ohio. The committee is comprised of organizations from the public and private sectors, as well as the military and education, thanks to the efforts by the Ohio National Guard.
In the fall of 2018, a national association of CEOs called Business Roundtable introduced a program that would build digital skills of the local workforce to help with the recruiting challenge to fill jobs in high demand. The program, Workforce Partnership Initiative, for the Ohio region pulled in executives from companies, such as JPMorgan Chase and American Electric Power, to partner with the Roundtable and Columbus State Community College.
Additionally, Columbus State Community College has made moves in the cybersecurity area. It has developed a certification program, with the help of Nationwide Insurance, which would make it easy for workers to move into cybersecurity-related positions from other departments within the organization. Columbus State also has a plan in place to implement cybersecurity into the college’s learn-and-earn program. In such a model, students take technical courses for a year and then become “interns” to gain hands-on training. This is another step in the direction of growing technical skills and creating feasible career paths for Ohio’s young people.
Columbus State Community College is among close to 50 schools of higher education to implement cybersecurity training or certification programs. As far as National Security Agency-certified programs, there are only 20 in the United States. Among them is the University of Cincinnati.
While Central Ohio’s education system has begun heading in the right direction to fill the talent gap in the future, many businesses need to figure out how to decrease their risk now. American Electric Power contributes to its lack of recruiting challenge to hiring from within. Based on experience, the company has found that training the highest performers from their established staff pool makes it easy for these individuals to shift into a cybersecurity role.
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