As the global economy continues its rapid transformation towards a digital economy, the demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals continues to skyrocket. Unfortunately, the shortage of human capital with the skills needed to manage the security and privacy of data in cyberspace is in extremely short supply.
There have been countless articles written and study’s conducted to identify the core issues and address this global crisis. According to the (ISC)² 2018 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, the gap equates to 2.93 million jobs, while research conducted by Cybersecurity Ventures predicts 3.5 million job openings with no talent to fill the gap by 2021. Fact is, the demand for cyber security employees is increasing at over three times the pace of the rest of the IT job market and 12 times the pace of the general job market. Great news for those who have chosen to pursue a career in cybersecurity. Or is it?
Be Careful What You Wish For
The old adage, “be careful what you wish for” certainly holds true for many in the cybersecurity industry. Having been in the industry for the past decade, I can attest that there are many positive aspects to being in an industry where the supply and demand dynamic is upside down. There is also the negative side that must be considered. Let’s examine both sides of the issue.
Job security and a fair wage are certainly towards the top of the list of being in the cybersecurity industry. While high salaries and benefits are attractive, cybersecurity professionals are also driven by their passion for technology and meaningful work that a cybersecurity career provides. Cybersecurity professionals work behind the scenes protecting top secret government agency information, global supply-chain networks, healthcare information systems, financial services networks, basically anything connected to the internet that if in the wrong hands could devastate organizations and potentially compromise our national and global safety.
This is especially true for small-midsize businesses (SMBs). Most SMBs lack the knowledge to properly protect their digital footprints in cyberspace leaving them, their clients and vendors extremely vulnerable to cyber criminals. This is why we are seeing a record number of data breaches among SMBs and the trend is continuing to rise. Developing solutions that have the potential to eliminate these types of threats is a noble endeavor and can be very rewarding and self-fulfilling in a cybersecurity career.
The Bad and Ugly
Throughout my career in the cybersecurity industry, I have witnessed many of my cybersecurity colleagues over the years suffer from job fatigue, burn-out, and yes, even loss of life, due to the overwhelming demand it takes to perform their duties and endure the stress that goes along with this line of work. The Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) and Jon Oltsik, a Principal Analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group ESG, teamed up to produce groundbreaking global studies on this issue. The research findings indicate:
- 70% of cybersecurity professionals say the cybersecurity skills shortage has had some impact on their organization.
- 63% percent of cybersecurity professionals say the cybersecurity skills shortage has increased the workload on existing staff. More work and stress at the same salary is a recipe for dissatisfied employees and high attrition.
- 41% of cybersecurity professionals say the cybersecurity skills shortage has led to a situation where the Infosec staff spends a disproportional amount of time dealing with high-priority issues and incident response. This means that many they face a high-stress workplace from the beginning to the end of their workdays.
- 68% of cybersecurity professionals believe that a cybersecurity career can be taxing on the balance between one’s personal and professional life. In other words, InfoSec pros are taking the pressure of their jobs home with them. This can lead to issues like substance abuse and others.
- 38% of cybersecurity professionals say the cybersecurity skills shortage has led to high burnout rates and staff attrition.
In closing, a career in the cybersecurity industry can offer a great quality of life and be extremely rewarding. We need as many skilled workers as possible to help fill the workforce shortage gap. The flip-side is it requires a thick skin and the ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance.