In today’s world, a company’s most vulnerable area is no longer physical, but digital. Shop fronts, banks and factories are being attacked not just in person, but also online, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. With the threat increasing, companies need highly skilled cyberwarriors to defend their networks. But often these skills are hard to find, and the people needed for this crucial line of defense are scarce.

The Security Skills Gap

Though security has always been important, the number and sophistication of attacks is increasing rapidly. Security is now on the board’s mind more than ever before and demand for cyber skills is far outstripping supply. In fact, Frost & Sullivan predicted that the gap between available, qualified cybersecurity professionals and unfulfilled positions will reach 1.8 million by 2022.

Though connecting our world through the Internet of Things (IoT) can boost productivity, efficiency and the customer experience, all these new connections generate huge amounts of data and increase the size of the potential attack surface. This creates more gaps to be plugged and the need for a bigger security team.

As Marc van Zadelhoff, general manager of IBM Security, recently stated, “Even if the industry was able to fill the estimated 1.5 million open cybersecurity jobs by 2020, we’d still have a skills crisis in security. The volume and velocity of data in security is one of our greatest challenges in dealing with cybercrime.”

The Cognitive Explosion

More data is being generated than ever before, with 2.5 quintillion bytes created every day. Without a dedicated team to keep a constant eye on all this data, many companies will turn to cognitive systems.

According to an IBM report, the number of security professionals implementing these solutions is expected to increase threefold in the next two to three years. Using cognitive technologies to take over the security team’s most mundane and repetitive tasks frees up the highly valuable cyber professionals to do the more complicated (and often the more interesting) work.

As the bad guys start using their own artificial intelligence (AI) to steal sensitive data, cognitive security is becoming more of a necessity than a luxury. As a result, deep skills in areas such as data science are now crucial. However, since these areas are relatively new, the related skills are still limited to a small number of people whose expertise and hands-on experience is in high demand.

The New Collar Approach

One way to reduce this security skills gap is to adopt a new collar approach to hiring. The idea is that to be a great cybersecurity professional, you don’t necessarily need a traditional four-year university degree. What is most important is technical skill and aptitude. By increasing the size of the recruitment pool to include a more diverse range of backgrounds and restructuring work around specific skill sets to create new roles, companies hope that highly talented individuals who may previously have been overlooked will now join the security workforce.

It is also important to note that the security industry doesn’t just need people with technical degrees and skills. In addition to these essential “builders,” such as integration engineers, security device analysts and developers, companies also need “operators” to serve as penetration testers and threat analysts, as well as “communicators” to work as cyber help desk analysts, technical writers and security awareness trainers. According to the Harvard Business Review, 20 percent of the new hires who have joined IBM Security in the U.S. since 2015 have been new collar professionals.

Join Us at the First Cyber Careers Show

In an endeavor to bring more skilled individuals into the security industry, IBM is taking part in the first Cyber Careers Show in London on Jan. 17, 2018. The event is open to students, experienced professionals and those looking to move into a cybersecurity career. It will give attendees an opportunity to meet potential employers and find out more about security careers, from security architecture and consulting to penetration testing, incident response and much more.

If you may be interested in joining our team, we encourage you to check out these current career opportunities at IBM Security.

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