Understanding the Cyber Skills Shortage

The low availability of professionals with specialized cyber skills is one of the biggest issues facing organizations looking to defend their core business systems against cyberattacks. A recent report from Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), titled “The Growing Cybersecurity Skills Crisis,” estimated that there are as many as 1 million unfilled security jobs worldwide, as shown below.

Figure 1: Cybersecurity Skills Shortage (Source:
Business Wire)

This study, conducted late last year, revealed that 1 in 5 IT security professionals claimed their enterprise has been the target of an advanced persistent threat (APT). Despite this, some 62 percent of organizations have not increased their security training. That leads to a sizable and growing gap between formal education and real-world needs. This cyber skills shortage requires immediate attention so the industry can get better at understanding, detecting and mitigating cyberthreats and cybercrime.

IBM and the University of Warwick Join Forces to Deliver Cybersecurity Skills of the Future

IBM and WMG Cyber Security Centre team addressed this head on by building a business-focused, weeklong postgraduate module in enterprise cybersecurity aimed at boosting the cyber skills of the students. The pilot module was delivered in June as part of the University of Warwick MSc in cybersecurity and management. This builds upon a long-term arrangement where IBM professionals deliver guest lectures at the university, allowing industry experts to work hand-in-hand with academia to enrich the student’s learning experience.

A unifying theme of IBM’s Smarter Cities initiative was used to ensure business relevance and continuity through the week, and a number of specialist topics were developed and delivered by IBM practitioners working in the cybersecurity field. The topics included:

Figure 2: Sample Topics

The topics were delivered in a variety of formats, ranging from traditional lectures through hands-on workshops on ethical hacking to an interactive game to address securing systems of engagement. The game involved splitting the students into two teams. One team focused on the design of cyber defense mechanisms for a cloud-based city command system, which was needed to monitor a terrorist threat ahead of a major financial summit hosted in the city. The other team designed cyber disruption methods against the summit. Both sides presented their ideas to an assessment panel and were subjected to evaluation questions.

A Successful Endeavor

Student engagement was excellent throughout, and the university appreciated the IBM module delivery. One member of the university’s academic staff commented:

Figure 3: University of Warwick Quote

The IBM team is looking forward to delivering the module again next year at the University of Warwick and is currently exploring how the content can be used more creatively and more widely with the goal of further boosting cyber skills availability.

More from Intelligence & Analytics

RansomExx Upgrades to Rust

IBM Security X-Force Threat Researchers have discovered a new variant of the RansomExx ransomware that has been rewritten in the Rust programming language, joining a growing trend of ransomware developers switching to the language. Malware written in Rust often benefits from lower AV detection rates (compared to those written in more common languages) and this may have been the primary reason to use the language. For example, the sample analyzed in this report was not detected as malicious in the…

Moving at the Speed of Business — Challenging Our Assumptions About Cybersecurity

The traditional narrative for cybersecurity has been about limited visibility and operational constraints — not business opportunities. These conversations are grounded in various assumptions, such as limited budgets, scarce resources, skills being at a premium, the attack surface growing, and increased complexity. For years, conventional thinking has been that cybersecurity costs a lot, takes a long time, and is more of a cost center than an enabler of growth. In our upcoming paper, Prosper in the Cyber Economy, published by…

Overcoming Distrust in Information Sharing: What More is There to Do?

As cyber threats increase in frequency and intensity worldwide, it has never been more crucial for governments and private organizations to work together to identify, analyze and combat attacks. Yet while the federal government has strongly supported this model of private-public information sharing, the reality is less than impressive. Many companies feel that intel sharing is too one-sided, as businesses share as much threat intel as governments want but receive very little in return. The question is, have government entities…

Tackling Today’s Attacks and Preparing for Tomorrow’s Threats: A Leader in 2022 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for SIEM

Get the latest on IBM Security QRadar SIEM, recognized as a Leader in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant. As I talk to security leaders across the globe, four main themes teams constantly struggle to keep up with are: The ever-evolving and increasing threat landscape Access to and retaining skilled security analysts Learning and managing increasingly complex IT environments and subsequent security tooling The ability to act on the insights from their security tools including security information and event management software…