Why an IT Labor Shortage Is Driving Companies to Outsource Cybersecurity

Why an IT Labor Shortage Is Driving Companies to Outsource Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity providers fill the skills gap caused by a critical shortage of employees

A critical labor shortage that makes it difficult to hire qualified IT staff is leaving many companies exposed to the alarming rise in cyber-attacks.

A new report from Cybersecurity Ventures projects that there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs worldwide by 2021, up from 1 million in 2016. Last year, 350,000 cybersecurity positions remained unfilled in the U.S. alone – a number that is expected to exceed 500,000 within three years, according to a CSO Cybersecurity Business Report.

Eighty-two percent of IT decision-makers report a critical lack of cybersecurity skills within their organization. Small businesses face the greatest dearth of talent, as larger organizations have more resources to recruit and hire the best workers.

At the same time, incidents of cybercrime are surging, with worldwide costs estimated to hit $6 trillion by 2021 – double the amount of 2015. That mind-boggling number breaks down into a laundry list of consequences related to the destruction of data, reputational harm, stolen funds, lost productivity, loss of customers and investors, intellectual property theft, the theft of personal and financial data, embezzlement fraud, business disruption, forensic investigation, and restoration and deletion of hacked data and systems.

Such staggering costs make cybercrime responsible for the greatest transfer of economic wealth in history – earning more profits than the global trade of all major illegal drugs combined, Cybersecurity Ventures reports.

A lack of qualified workers is the greatest cyber risk

Many fear that the shortage of workers qualified to combat these increasingly sophisticated attacks is the greatest cyber risk facing American companies. U.S. enterprises suffer costs that average more than $7 million per data breach, according to the Ponemon Institute’s Cost of Data Breach Study.

Small businesses – who overall fight off about 4,000 attacks per day – must cough up an average of $690,000 to clean up after a successful breach, Ponemon reports. It’s no surprise that 60 percent of companies are forced to shut down after a significant attack.

Twenty-five percent of companies blame “insufficient cybersecurity staff strength” as the direct cause of a data breach, reports BizTech magazine. Forty-one percent say they are forced to hire workers who are too junior because they can’t attract high-level employees with the necessary skills to protect their information systems, according to ESG Research’s “The Life and Times of Cybersecurity Professionals” report.

And even when they can find qualified staff, 41 percent say these workers don’t have time to shape long-range strategic security plans because they are constantly in the weeds battling high-alert threats. On-the-job training is also usually out of the question: 67 percent say the workload is so immense that in-house IT staffs can’t find time to learn the cybersecurity skills they need to combat ever-evolving threats.

Unfortunately, even something as minor as an overtaxed staff failing to update an antivirus database can open the door to a massive breach. In a digital environment where hackers are constantly testing for vulnerabilities, holes that aren’t plugged immediately make it easy for malicious users to stroll through.

No quick answer to alleviate the shortage

There is little relief in sight. New innovations like the Internet of Things make matters worse for IT staffs already stretched thin – with the potential for the connected devices they must monitor to rise exponentially. And even as college students consider the high earning potential and availability of cybersecurity jobs, it will take time to fill the pipeline with qualified candidates. It’s difficult to enter the field straight out of school, as a base of experience is preferred for truly understanding where vulnerabilities might exist.

Better training is needed as well. Many schools and training programs focus on cybersecurity skills needed to achieve corporate compliance standards, such as patching known vulnerabilities and installing perimeter software. While these compliance frameworks are important, they don’t prepare students to handle sophisticated threats.

Emerging cybersecurity professionals need to be able to understand how hackers work, developing hard-to-find skillsets like white hat hacking techniques that find vulnerabilities by mimicking the behavior of cybercriminals. Cybersecurity jobs also require critical problem-solving skills – staffers are expected to go down the rabbit hole after an attack to determine exactly what occurred and what can be done to stop future problems.

Cybersecurity providers can do your heavy lifting

One in three companies fear that their inability to build a skilled cybersecurity staff makes them a prime target for hackers, InformationWeek reports. To combat the talent shortage, many have decided to protect their bottom lines by outsourcing their needs to trusted cyber security providers.

An experienced cybersecurity provider remains vigilantly up-to-date on emerging threats. They also already have all the checks and balances in place to detect a wider range of attacks than in-house employees who don’t have the time or training to discover every possible breach.

Full-service cybersecurity firms can do as much of the heavy lifting as companies want, including risk assessments, monitoring events, generating reports, automating and simplifying security checks, training employees, providing email and file encryption, conducting penetration tests, managing firewalls, and creating incident response plans. They also are well-versed in state and federal cybersecurity regulations such as New York’s new law and can help make sure companies implement the necessary practices to achieve compliance.

The idea of giving a third party access to critical corporate applications and sensitive data can be uncomfortable at first, but companies quickly understand that reputable cybersecurity partners are a much better defense against determined hackers than an IT staff with insufficient capabilities.

Outsourcing also can save companies money: Engaging a provider cost significantly less than hiring, training, and buying specific equipment for in-house employees. It also ensures around-the-clock access to experienced security professionals. Nearly 60 percent of businesses now outsource at least company-specific cybersecurity activities, and 52 percent bring in professionals to perform vulnerability assessments, according to a Forbes report.

The number of data breaches is increasing at an alarming rate – and companies fear that a severe labor shortage in the cybersecurity field leaves them vulnerable. Outsourcing protection to a trusted cybersecurity provider addresses the skills gap challenge that those companies face, with the added rewards of lower costs and better threat intelligence.

CyberGuard360’s clients across four states and 40 industries are guided safely through the threat landscape. Our wide array of services includes system security suites, risk assessment, education, and training and disaster recovery, and we specialize in helping New York companies comply with 23 NYCRR 500. If you’d like us to put our expertise to work for you, we’d be happy to help. Call us at 844-315-9882 or use our contact form for a free consultation.