5 Ways to Understand & Deal with the Cybersecurity Skills Gap

Here are 5 ways to prepare your company and employees for the growing skills gap in the cybersecurity industry.

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Are You Protecting Your Employees’ Personal Identifiable Information?

Here's what you need to know:

  • Know your company’s cybersecurity needs and hire or train accordingly
  • Make sure potential and current employees are armed with the basics of cybersecurity and consider paying for employee training
  • Know the types of cyberattacks your business could face
  • If you can’t hire a full-time cybersecurity specialist, consider hiring a freelancer or outsourcing your cybersecurity needs
  • Use robust software and up-to-date technology to keep data safe

Cybersecurity is a growing field, and with that comes new challenges. One of the biggest is the skills gap, a problem that businesses are struggling to solve. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) predicted a cybersecurity skills shortage of up to 1.2 million workers by 2022.

To stay safe from cyberattacks, companies need employees with the right skills. Unfortunately, there are not enough people out there with them. As a result, there is a cybersecurity professional drought. However, businesses still don’t value cybersecurity skills as essential enough to demand from employees.

How can you protect your business against the cybersecurity skills gap? Cybersecurity is a growing profession with many different paths. Some cybersecurity professionals focus on 1 area, while others may have multiple roles.

Therefore, you should know your needs and hire or train accordingly. Here are 5 ways to prepare your company and employees for the growing skills gap in the cybersecurity industry.

Train employees on cybersecurity basics

Basic training is one of the most important steps your company can take. You might have people on staff who wish to become cybersecurity experts but don’t have the know-how. This is where on-site training comes in. Whether employee onboarding or training seasoned employees, incentivize education by offering certification programs.

Certifications are becoming an industry standard, and companies are starting to provide them. It’s a win-win for both employee and employer. If possible and before hiring begins, make sure potential employees are armed with the basics of cybersecurity.

As businesses increasingly rely on technology, the risk of cyberattacks rises. Your company should create a cybersecurity policy to protect your networks and data. Cybersecurity policies are typically written to address the theft of business data and technical controls but can also inform employees on:

  • What they can and cannot do when using company devices and networks
  • How they should report any suspicious activity
  • How to identify fraudulent emails and other online attacks
  • Not falling prey to clicking on links or downloading files that contain malware
  • Using strong passwords backed by 2FA

Know the dangers of cyberattacks and phishing

Cyberattacks are the fastest-growing form of criminal activity — and small businesses are the most likely to be targeted by hackers. SMBs often can’t afford systems sophisticated enough to prevent or evade possible cyberattacks.

Hackers know this. Some experts estimate that almost half of all cybercrime is aimed at SMBs and that only 14% would be prepared to defend against it.

Phishing is the most common cyber threat that organizations face.

Unfortunately, many SBOs are in denial about proactively confronting cybersecurity threats. Two-thirds of senior managers believe that their company isn’t at risk of being compromised by cybercrime. As hackers get more innovative, cybercrime happens more frequently, and threats become more complex.

Phishing is the most common cyber threat that organizations face. A phishing attack can occur when an attacker sends a fraudulent email or social media message to try and steal sensitive information from the recipient.

The attacker may pose as a legitimate organization or individual to gain the recipient’s trust. Phishing attacks can be very sophisticated and challenging to detect, and as such, your organization should have a cybersecurity policy to protect against phishing attacks.

Ransomware attacks and DDoS attacks

Businesses are frequently targeted by ransomware attacks. This malware encrypts or locks data and then demands a ransom payment to unlock it.

This type of attack can delete sensitive data, destroy data or photos, or hold the company’s network hostage until the ransom is paid. It has become so common because it is effective and can cause significant damage.

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is a common cyber threat that overloads resources and bandwidth, flooding traffic through a website or servers until it is shut down. A DDoS attack can be costly for businesses and organizations, causing lost productivity, revenue, and customers. The goal of the hackers is not theft of credentials but to shut down the system entirely, only for the system to be restored once the ransom is paid.

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Spend a little more on cybersecurity now, pay a lot less later

With the shortage of individuals who can adequately protect networks and data from cyberattacks, you can protect your business but you’ll need to pay more upfront. Not offering competitive compensation is a significant reason companies find it challenging to recruit and hire the necessary cybersecurity talent. If your talent finds a higher compensation package elsewhere, why wouldn’t they leave?

When asked what actions organizations could take to address the cybersecurity skills shortage, the most common response was increasing cybersecurity training for sufficient training against cyberattacks. If your company is serious about building a solid defense against would-be hackers, provide adequate training each year to prepare your employees for whatever scams or attacks they may encounter.  If you don’t provide enough training, chances are, your employees won’t be able to afford it by themselves.

Provide adequate training each year to prepare your employees for whatever scams or attacks they may encounter.

What if your business doesn’t have the resources to hire full-time cybersecurity specialists? Maybe it’s time to consider hiring a freelancer or outsourcing your cybersecurity needs. Per hour, this may be a more expensive option, but using an external expert experienced in dealing with these threats can help you develop a plan to protect your organization. But, again, focus on your core business while knowing that your data is safe.

Find new ways to use technology to keep data safe

Whether your cybersecurity is in-house or outsourced, don’t forget that you’ll need robust software to help your team. Your business uses technology to protect your data, like passwords to keep your information safe. However, with hackers’ increased abilities, simple passwords are not enough. So now finding new ways to use technology to protect yourself from cybercrime should be a priority.

Install antivirus software on all your devices. Computers, laptops, phones, and printers should have antivirus software enabled. Don’t let an oversight expose your company to viruses and malware. Instead, find an antivirus brand you can trust and keep it up to date to protect your company from vulnerabilities.

Two-factor authentication and password managers

Two-factor authentication requires users to provide 2 pieces of information to access accounts, preventing cyberattacks because hackers would need both the user’s password and another piece of information, such as a token or code, to gain access to an account. 2FA is becoming more and more popular because it is 1 of the most effective ways to protect your data. Feel safe knowing that only those with the correct username and corresponding passwords have access.

Most people use a mix of the same passwords for different sites and services. Unfortunately, that makes it easy for someone to guess your password if they access one of your accounts, so it’s essential to use a password manager and secure browser extensions.

A password manager stores all of your passwords in one place, so you only need to remember 1 password for all of your sites and services. Secure browser extensions encrypt your online data before it’s sent to the websites you visit. Using these 2 tools can reduce the risk of your personal information being stolen in a cyberattack.

Cybersecurity is an integral part of any online strategy. A cybersecurity service can help monitor your online activity and provide tips and advice on protecting yourself from potential threats. Most services will also provide alerts if there are any signs of suspicious activity.

Still don’t trust Millennials?

Yes, Millennials are more likely to change employers than other generations. However, they value praise and validation more than the number on their paychecks.

In addition, they want career development, including sponsoring, mentorship, and leadership programs. While salaries are not the highest priority for Millennials, they still get higher and more frequent salary increases than other generations.

Because career development is a more profound concern, Millennials are more likely to pay for courses and certifications if not offered by their employers, but should you let them do that? Offer to pay for attendance at industry events and training programs.

Millennials are known for caring about their careers. If they see you’re willing to foot the bill for training, they’ll be much more likely to stay with you long term. Why would they jump ship if they knew that employer-paid professional certifications and association memberships were part of their hiring package?

To bridging the cybersecurity skills gap and beyond!

There is no single method to defend against cybercrime and its exponentially increasing complexity. Bridging the skills gap can seem like an impossible task.

However, training, knowing the dangers, spending more upfront, using technology that confronts cyberattacks head-on, and hiring a pool of workers willing to learn and work hard for recognition will come in handy when cybercrime comes knocking on your company’s door.

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