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Economic stability and tech innovation threatened by lack of cybersecurity

The lack of cybersecurity specialists can threaten economic stability and technological innovation. In today’s hyper connected digital landscape, the cybersecurity industry faces a critical global shortage of nearly 4 million professionals, World Economic Forum says in a White Paper. “With a consistent year-on-year increase in demand for qualified practitioners, the deficit shows no sign of abating.”

“At a time when cyberthreats are increasing in sophistication and frequency, the cybersecurity workforce, as the backbone of organisational security, plays a key role in securing the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” 

“Failure to ensure a steady supply of cybersecurity professionals may have far-reaching consequences, with organisations worldwide finding themselves vulnerable and understaffed in the face of emerging threats.” 

The paper says it is, therefore, imperative for decision-makers to prioritise cybersecurity talent management as a strategic necessity.

The paper says that while working in cybersecurity provides numerous exciting opportunities, a survey found that 67% of cybersecurity professionals would not recommend a career in the industry. 

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“Long working hours are often cited as the main cause for employee dissatisfaction. In addition, the high-stress environment and constant demand for vigilance can take a toll on the mental health of cybersecurity professionals.” 

Data shows that two-thirds of cybersecurity professionals experience significant levels of stress at work, and more than half have been prescribed medication for their mental health.” 

To address mental health concerns in the workplace, executives are increasingly prioritising the issue. A report by Deloitte found that 76% of executives agree that workforce well-being should be measured and monitored, and 83% say it should be discussed at board level.”

The World Economic Forum has established an initiative called Bridging the Cyber Skills Gap comprising more than 50 public and private organisations.

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The initiative says:

  • More talent could be attracted into cybersecurity by improving the understanding of what cybersecurity professionals do, removing barriers to entry and improving diversity in the workforce 
  • – Cybersecurity education and training could be improved to effectively equip students and professionals with essential skills for a career in the field 
  • – Recruitment practices could be rethought by addressing challenges such as unrealistic and demanding requirements in job descriptions and misalignment between hiring managers and human resources (HR) departments 
  • – Retention of cybersecurity professionals could be improved by tackling issues such as the lack of appreciation and recognition for the field as well as the high stress levels 
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