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Filling the Cybersecurity Talent Gap

By Merlin Piscitelli, Chief Revenue Officer, EMEA at Data website

Growing geopolitical tensions and increasingly sophisticated cyber warfare tactics mean that cybersecurity threats are now more prevalent than ever. Currently, the number of cybersecurity attacks is increasing in volume and intensity globally and if a business is not properly equipped to deal with this reality, it could have a direct impact on its survival. .

Recently, some sections of companies have been compromised, taken offline, and employee accounts within key electronic and microchip power stations have been exposed due to cyber attacks. More alarmingly, some of these attacks were carried out by the same hacking and extortion group.

As digitalization continues to increase around the world and events such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine occur, it is now more important than ever to focus on the fight against cybercrime. The industry understands this, as record levels of investment have been poured into the sector to advance our capabilities in the field.

The rise of cybersecurity

Over the past 12 months, the cybersecurity industry has seen significant growth with now nearly 2,000 active businesses in the UK providing cybersecurity products and services. In 2021, the UK cybersecurity industry contributed £5.3bn to the economy, an increase of around a third on 2020, and cybersecurity companies raised over £1bn pounds of external investments in 84 transactions. It is therefore fair to say that the acceleration of digitalization caused by the pandemic has forced companies to increase their cybersecurity efforts, which has led to increased demands within the sector.

As the industry finds new solutions to combat cyberattacks, cybercriminals continue to explore new tactics to trick victims. This has led to an increase in the demand for qualified people within the industry. Today, with more than 2.5 million cybersecurity jobs available and the war for talent rapidly escalating, it’s clear that the pressure is mounting.

Cybersecurity and data protection is a strategic investment and a highly specialized business. It may be more cost-effective (especially for small and medium-sized businesses) to outsource this responsibility and partner with a vendor to design and implement solutions. Business owners will need to ensure that they are working with a reputable partner who can offer the best level of protection and technical expertise to meet the needs of the organization.

The talent gap

While the demands are currently high, the supply is not there to match. In the UK, the cybersecurity talent pool has shrunk by around 10,000 people a year, and in the last 12 months the UK cybersecurity skills shortage has grown by more than a third. As a result, cybersecurity is now the most sought-after tech skill in the UK.

With more than half, 54%, of UK CEOs believing cybersecurity presents the best opportunity for TMT deals over the next year, demand will quickly outpace supply of expertise unless there is have a rapid change within the industry.

Defend the workforce

Companies have had various strategies to combat this problem. When asked what were the main drivers of recent and future cross-border tech acquisitions, a third of UK M&A professionals surveyed cited access to skilled/specialist talent.

Investing in your workforce is the proven way to mitigate cyberattacks and manage risk. Having access to the resources needed to protect your digital ecosystem and build momentum by upskilling people already working in the tech space, as well as attracting new talent, will be crucial in closing the current professional gap.

Additionally, bringing diversity and inclusivity into the process will truly help overcome the war for talent, as companies will need to recognize the correlation between the skills shortage and the lack of inclusivity needed to diversify the sector.

Ultimately, closing the current cybersecurity skills gap will require the combined efforts of business, academia, and government. Encouraging students to take an active interest in cybersecurity and take the necessary training to develop the skills needed in the industry will go a long way to leveling the playing field.

Only by investing in the development of cybersecurity talent will we have enough people with the expertise required to protect organizations’ digital ecosystems as the threat landscape becomes more diverse.

Merlin Piscitelli is Data website Revenue Director for the EMEA region. Datasite is a leading SaaS provider for the M&A industry, providing dealmakers around the world with the tools they need to succeed throughout the deal lifecycle.

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