According to a recent study from TechTarget’s Enterprise Strategy Group and the Information Systems Security Association, the shortage of cybersecurity talent continues to be a major concern. In fact, the majority of survey respondents, 95%, reported that the skills shortage hasn’t improved over the years, with 44% stating that it has actually worsened. Additionally, over half of the organizations polled (57%) have noted the negative impacts of the shortage on their current workforce, citing increased workloads, unfilled job requisitions, and high staff burnout as key issues.
While these findings may be troubling for IT security leaders and the companies they are trying to protect, it also means there are significant opportunities for cybersecurity experts. The demand for skilled professionals in this field is high, and individuals who possess the necessary technical and soft skills are in an excellent position to advance their careers and help companies remain effective in their security efforts.
Technical Skills for Cybersecurity Professionals
The industry professionals highlighted the following technical skills as the most critical for building a successful career in cybersecurity:
1. Application Security Development: There is a need for security experts who are proficient in DevSecOps concepts and can collaborate with software development engineering teams. This role requires strong communication skills and adaptability due to the involvement of business units outside the direct control of the security team.
2. Cloud Security: With the increasing use of cloud infrastructure, companies require professionals who understand the underlying infrastructure, identity management, and authentication for secure SaaS applications. Skills in managing multi-cloud strategies and interpreting contract clauses in agreements with cloud service vendors are also essential.
3. Threat Intelligence Analysis: Individuals with the ability to utilize threat intelligence tools, analyze security threat trends, and perform digital forensics are highly sought after. This role demands strong analytical skills, curiosity, and the capacity to handle high-stakes pressure, as well as proficiency in programming, particularly in Python.
4. Penetration Testing/Red Teaming: Offensive security experts who can identify security vulnerabilities and provide recommendations for improvement are in high demand. This role requires significant training, experience, confidence, and skill gained through hands-on seminars and real-world scenarios.
5. Network Security: Fundamental skills in network security are essential for all professionals in the cybersecurity field. A strong understanding of how networks operate serves as the basis for effective defense strategies against security threats.
6. Identity and Access Management: Security professionals need to be able to manage identity and access management tools effectively and establish network privileges tailored to employees’ roles and responsibilities to enhance security against intruders.
7. Risk and Compliance Auditing: Individuals skilled in assessing noncompliance risks and navigating various data privacy regulations are critical for ensuring organizations remain compliant with industry standards and regulations.
8. Mobile-Remote Computing: Security teams require individuals who understand how to manage VPNs, RDP servers, and home network segmentation to maintain strong security practices in remote work environments.
Soft Skills for Cybersecurity Professionals
In addition to technical skills, cybersecurity professionals also emphasize the importance of developing key soft skills to advance their careers:
1. Communication/Leadership: Security experts need to be able to communicate technical concepts in a way that business leaders can understand. The ability to explain security risks and incidents in plain language to top management is crucial for career advancement.
2. Creativity: Creative thinking allows security professionals to anticipate and stay one step ahead of cybercriminals. It enables them to develop innovative strategies for protecting organizational assets and responding to security threats effectively.
3. Interpreting Logs and Analytics: Proficiency in interpreting logs and analytics and drawing actionable insights from security data is an essential skill for effective threat detection and incident response.
Overall, the cybersecurity skills shortage presents considerable challenges for organizations, but it also underscores the growing demand for skilled professionals in this field. By developing the necessary technical and soft skills, individuals can position themselves for successful careers in cybersecurity while playing a crucial role in safeguarding organizations against evolving security threats.