Three steps to fixing the cybersecurity talent shortage

More programs to motivate, recruit and train professionals are needed

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If doubt lingers about the effectiveness of cybersecurity measures, the Panama Papers episode earlier this month has managed to increase that skepticism another notch or two.

Ed note_Trident Capital_Alberto YepezThe hack of 11.5 million sensitive documents from Mossack Fonseca, a prominent Panamanian law firm that allegedly helped high-profile people stash fortunes outside the purview of domestic tax laws, has raised lots of eyebrows. Is anybody’s digital data really secure anymore? Although Mossack Fonseca is the fourth-largest “asset protection” law firm in the world, it is now mostly viewed as just another entry on the swelling list of cybersecurity victims.

How should this problem be addressed? The solution must start by focusing on the shortfall of roughly 1 million cybersecurity professionals worldwide—a number equivalent to the population of San Jose, Calif., the hub of Silicon Valley. Creative programs to motivate, recruit and train cyber professionals must be substantially expanded.

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Here are three suggestions:

  • Provide in-house training. PricewaterhouseCoopers, as one example, plans to hire 1,000 people this year for its cybersecurity consulting practice. It’s confronting the labor scarcity head-on by recruiting new college graduates, including liberal arts majors, and also is focusing on veterans seeking private-sector jobs. PwC initially trains these people in an intensive, four-week course leading up to the CISSP, a globally respected certification.
  • Recruit military veterans. Fortinet, a leading purveyor of enterprise-class cybersecurity solutions, has established a veterans program focused on military personnel, based on the strength of their analytical and teamwork skills and ability to meet deadlines under pressure. The program helps veterans transition into the cybersecurity industry through employment at Fortinet or with its distribution and technology partners. Dozens of “FortiVets” already have been trained and hired.
  • Partner with colleges in cybersecurity programs. Rather than have computer science and computer engineering majors take specific cybersecurity courses, universities are now creating cybersecurity-specific programs. Get to know these colleges and partner with them by creating internship programs. One well-known program, at Southeast Missouri State University, has about 100 students and is the university’s fastest-growing major. Courses include encryption coding, data analysis, risk assessment and organizational cybersecurity strategy planning.

Success along these or similar lines is essential. We all know that some industries eventually crater, usually because they become obsolete. Cybersecurity need not be concerned about this. But inability to attract sufficient qualified talent also can be a very serious threat. Let’s resolve the problem.

More stories related to cybersecurity jobs:
Help wanted: More women in cybersecurity jobs
Cybersecurity jobs go unfilled as breaches boom
More cybersecurity experts move out of IT and into C-Suite jobs