Security issues surrounding the internet, particularly the never ending array of Internet of Things diatribe, consume so much media coverage that one would definitely be either so paranoid they want to move to Mars or so bored they want to hurl. Well, we can’t go to Mars yet and feel free to imbibe the pink stuff if you feel nauseous.
Another thing we’ve probably heard every other day in one form of media or another is the great shortage of qualified cybersecurity and IT pros. The general public finds that hard to swallow because it has misled itself to believe that one who is face down on a smartphone or tablet 24/7 is a tech pro.
A global survey initiated by tech-consulting company Aceenture finds 73% of 774 government technology leaders believe the use of emerging technology can help public agencies secure data and protect privacy. Consensus among all the government sectors represented in the survey cites data protection as the most anticipated benefit of emerging technologies. This includes 68% of respondents from border agencies, 84% from social security agencies, and 76% from revenue agencies. The survey also finds that 69% of respondents have deployed or seek to deploy biometric technologies.
Although not a fully-mature or foolproof technology, the survey claims biometrics adoption is most prevalent in public safety agencies at 51%, followed by pension and social security organizations at 48% and border agencies at 36%. If accurate, these are significant figures indicating great opportunity for employment growth in biometric security. Another area, 62% of respondents know of video analytics technology, while just 28% are adopting such platforms. More are sure to follow soon.
Nine countries were included in the survey and each contributes some greater or lesser interests in various areas of security. For example, data privacy and data security concerns were cited as significant challenges in all nine countries surveyed, but were the top concerns among respondents from Singapore and Australia, 59% and 51%, respectively. Respondents from the UK and Germany were least concerned about data privacy and security, 14% and 15% respectively.
Again, Australia and Singapore were most likely to implement biometric technologies at 68% each while Finland indicates the lowest rate of adoption at 22%. On the contrary, 51% of US participants claim the deployment of biometrics could reduce security risks and improve data security and privacy with only 12% of respondents from Japan claiming the same.
Respondents from Australia and France see the deployment of data analytics as reducing risk and improving data security, 48% and 45%, respectively. Respondents from the US were not as likely to hold this view, at just 2%.
At 43%, Japanese respondents claim they use video analytics while 18% of German respondents were least likely to adopt this technology. At 68% each, Australia and Singapore are the most likely to implement biometrics/ identity analytics technologies, followed by Japan (57%), France (42%), and the UK (34%).
Based on the Aceenture findings, the employment opportunities are wide open for cybersecurity specialists. Software and encryption technologies withstanding, biometrics and video analysis seem to be high on the list. The demand is both high and global.
The Great Shortage
A recent report by Kaspersky Lab and Business Advantage found that cybersecurity is not a separate or optional function among managed service providers (MSPs). It is now an integral part of the IT services MSPs deliver, with the ability to keep security incidents to a minimum a key performance indicator. Be that as it is, with the need for cybersecurity pros at an all-time high, the report finds two in three MSPs are coming up short of qualified cybersecurity staff. It begs the question, why are MSPs stuck in a cybersecurity rut?
The report finds 92% of MSPs include cybersecurity as part of their services and 51% consider it essential to their customers’ operational continuity. Obviously, cyber-threat protection is a top priority for MSPs now and will continue to be so in the future.
However, two-thirds of MSPs, serving large enterprise (60%) and smaller businesses (58%) say that a shortage of qualified IT security professionals for hire contributes to the challenge of ramping up their cybersecurity offerings. In addition, around half have difficulties with the remote deployment and management of their solutions (51% and 54% respectively).
The Kaspersky Lab/Business Advantage report concludes that, to overcome these challenges, MSPs should select cybersecurity products that are easy to manage and use, but also offer highly reliable protection. Good luck with that marriage of ease of use to reliability when it comes to security. Hackers, hijackers, and phishers are constantly upping their games, making the situation one of constant complexity that needs constant and diligent attention.
Okay, the demand for qualified IT security professionals is extremely high and the number of security pros is very low. Why is that? The reports cited here offer no answers to that question, but we can hypothesize some reasons for the shortage.
First, no offense intended toward security folks, but cybersecurity as a profession is not all that glamorous. Being the unseen and highly unsung hero who thwarts one of the day’s many and incessant cyber invasions does not conjure visions of 007 saving the world from mega-rich evil doers. It involves hours and days of sitting in front of a computer analyzing code and cranking out counter code, and possibly consuming mass quantities of sugar and energy drinks.
Second, if there are no rewards in the prestige department, what are the financial rewards of being a cybersecurity pro? If one owns the company and has control of its direction, the financial rewards could be huge. But if looking at security from the salaried employee position, the financial rewards for long hours in a hyper-paced, results-driven environment may not reflect the work involved. When you see that you have a better chance of scoring a $mil or two creating an app that lets users put funny hats on cartoon characters, security may not even be an afterthought.
Cybersecurity may be something akin to becoming a member of the clergy. One must get the calling.
Mat Dirjish is the Executive Editor of Sensors magazine. Before coming on board, he covered the test and measurement and embedded systems market for Electronic Products Magazine, after which he spent thirteen years covering the electronic components market for EE Product News and Electronic Design magazines. He also has an extensive background in high-end audio/video design, modification, servicing, and installation.