Sophisticated cyberwarfare and rising geopolitical tensions mean that cybersecurity threats are evolving at an even faster pace, impacting entire businesses, their operations and their hard-won reputations.
Major microchip and electronic powerhouses were recently hit by cyber-attacks, where parts of their businesses were completely compromised, taken offline for a few days and employee accounts exposed. Some of these breaches were even done by the same hacking extortion group.
As a result, the need to fight cyber-crime has become even more important in an increasingly digital and interconnected world. This is resulting in record levels of investment in cybersecurity as it becomes a top priority for company leaders, boards, and investors, particularly as governments warn of an increased threat of cyber intrusions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Cybersecurity Boom
In the last 12 months, the cybersecurity sector has achieved double-digit growth and there are now almost 2,000 firms active within the UK providing cyber security products and services. In fact, the UK cybersecurity industry contributed around £5.3 billion to the UK economy in 2021, rising by a third from 2020, and cybersecurity firms have raised more than £1 billion in external investments in 84 deals.
Simply put, demand for cybersecurity increased dramatically as the pandemic sent the digital revolution into hyperdrive. The pandemic not only accelerated consumer adoption of digital solutions, but it also accelerated enterprise digitization strategies.
With cybercriminals rising to the challenge, companies now need cybersecurity solutions to protect a host of new entry points. However, with over 2.5 million cybersecurity jobs available and the war for talent rapidly gaining momentum, the industry is feeling the strain as the pressure grows for more defenses.
Addressing the ‘Skills Gap’
Despite rapid market growth, the UK’s cybersecurity talent pool has fallen short by around 10,000 people a year. In fact, the UK’s cyber skills shortage surged by more than a third in the previous 12 months and cybersecurity is now the most sought-after tech skill in the UK.
With more than half, 54 percent, of UK CEOs, believing cybersecurity presents the best opportunity for TMT dealmaking over the next year, demand will rapidly outstrip the supply of expertise unless drastic action is taken.
Market Demand and the War for Talent
Businesses have responded to this in quite a few different ways. When asked what the main strategic drivers of recent and future cross-border technology acquisitions are, one-third of UK M&A professionals surveyed cited access to skilled/specialized talent.
To continue to stay ahead of cyber-attacks and manage risk, businesses must also invest in their workforce to ensure they have access to the necessary resources to protect their digital ecosystem and sustain business activity.
Upskilling individuals already working in the tech space, along with attracting newcomers, will be crucial to tackling the current professional shortfall. To truly overcome the war for talent, businesses will need to acknowledge the correlation between the skills shortage and the lack of inclusivity and bring more meaningful levels of diversity to the sector.
Tackling this current skills miss-match cannot be left to businesses alone though and requires a united effort from governments, industries, and academia. Awareness campaigns encouraging universities, schools, and training organizations to promote cybersecurity as an exciting field and one with vast career opportunities can also go a long way to tackling the current imbalance.
Only by investing in cybersecurity talent will we have enough people with the expertise required to protect organizations’ digital ecosystems as the threat landscape becomes more diverse.
By Merlin Piscitelli
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