Following the pandemic, businesses across the globe have had to migrate to the digital sphere in order to continue with their operations. While this provided a greater level of convenience and accessibility, it also came with its fair share of risks — most notably in the field of cybersecurity. Cybercrime has been on the rise since the pandemic began, with around 36 billion records being exposed by data breaches in just the first half of 2020. It also doesn't help that cyberattacks can come in multiple forms, such as hacking, teleconference hijacking, and fraud. Such issues warrant the expertise of cybersecurity teams to ensure the protection of company data. However, that brings up another issue — the shortage of cybersecurity professionals.
The Demand for Cybersecurity Professionals in 2021
Cybersecurity is a necessity in the digital world. Following the recent COVID-19 pandemic, industries have had to migrate to the online sphere in order to continue operations. And though many businesses and organizations successfully transitioned, they were left vulnerable to cyber attacks. This is largely due to the cybersecurity talent and skills gap, but also because many of these enterprises did not prioritize the implementation of cybersecurity measures. This was — and, in many cases, still is — a problem for different industries, including the business sector, the education sector, and the government. Shortages in IT and cybersecurity staff prevented these industries from protecting their data. That's why, in 2020, a total of 791,790 cases of suspected cybercrime were reported. That's nearly 70% up from the previous year.
A study by the (ISC)² reports that the cybersecurity talent gap has decreased since 2019. From 4 million, it has shrunk to 3.1 million. Though this is a considerable step forward, the cybersecurity talent and skills gap is still considerably large. In the US, the current cybersecurity workforce stands at just under 880,000, while the workforce gap is at nearly 360,000. That means the US needs to supply around 360,000 cybersecurity professionals to fill the demand.
The Need for Cybersecurity Education
As organizations adopt more digitalized methods, the demand for cybersecurity professionals will only continue to increase. Fortunately, the industry is undertaking measures to decrease the size of the cybersecurity talent and skills gap. To cater to the growing demand, educational institutions have been doubling down on their online cybersecurity degrees, where coursework can be accomplished 100% over the internet. This makes cybersecurity education more accessible as students can finish their degree from anywhere in the world, without having to travel to the school campus. Despite this, online degrees don’t compromise the quality of cybersecurity training, especially given the use of advanced pedagogical software, like virtual labs, and the study of real case studies to supplement learning. Through these methods, students can gain in-depth knowledge on offensive cybersecurity and defensive cybersecurity, ensuring that they have the necessary skill set to thrive in their line of work.
That said, post-secondary cybersecurity education is no longer sufficient for such a digitalized world. Children and adults alike are reliant on the internet for learning, work, and leisure. Consequently, it's high time that the primary and secondary sectors of education start teaching cybersecurity to young children. It isn't only professionals that need to learn cybersecurity. Everyone needs to know the basics so that there's a baseline level of awareness. And that's why it's best to start as early as possible. At the end of the day, getting rid of the cybersecurity talent and skills gap requires education on all fronts.