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Financial IT security in crisis as key job vacancies top 3 million

Hackers are tailoring their malware to use blockchain

(ISC)² – the world’s largest nonprofit association of certified cyber security professionals – has announced the findings of the 2018 (ISC)Cybersecurity Workforce Study. The research shows a widening of the global cybersecurity workforce gap to nearly three million job vacansies across North AmericaLatin AmericaAsia-Pacific (APAC), and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

The 2018 (ISC)² Cybersecurity Workforce Study (formerly the Global Information Security Workforce Study) is based on feedback from a broader, more representative sample of the men and women responsible for securing their organizations around the world. This includes many IT/ICT staff within organizations ranging from large enterprises to small businesses who may or may not have formal cybersecurity roles but do have hands-on responsibility for securing critical assets every day – spending at least 25% of their time on such activities. Their views and opinions create a more realistic representation of the cybersecurity challenges and opportunities the industry faces around the globe.

“This research is essential to fostering a clearer understanding of who makes up the larger pool of cybersecurity workers and enables us to better tailor our professional development programs for the men and women securing organizations day in and day out,” said (ISC)CEO David Shearer, CISSP. “We will share these powerful insights with our partners in government and the private sector to help establish the programs necessary to advance the cybersecurity profession. By broadening our view of the workforce to include those with collateral cybersecurity duties within IT and ICT teams, we discovered that professionals are still facing familiar challenges, but also found striking differences compared to previous research, including a younger workforce and greater representation of women.”

Key insights revealed in the study include:

  • Of the 2.93 million overall gap, the Asia-Pacific region is experi­encing the highest shortage, at 2.14 million, in part thanks to its growing economies and new cybersecurity and data privacy legislation being enacted throughout the region
  • North America has the next highest gap number at 498,000, while EMEA and Latin America contribute a 142,000 and 136,000 staffing shortfall, respectively
  • 63% of respon­dents report that their organizations have a shortage of IT staff dedicated to cybersecurity. 59% say their companies are at moderate or extreme risk of cybersecurity attacks due to this shortage.
  • 48% of respondents say their organizations plan to increase cybersecurity staffing over the next 12 months
  • 68% of respondents say they are either very or somewhat satisfied in their current job
  • Women represent 24% of this broader cybersecurity workforce (compared to 11% from previous studies), while 35% are Millennial or Gen Y (compared to less than 20% from previous studies)
  • More than half of all respon­dents globally (54%) are either pursuing cybersecurity certifications or plan to within the next year
  • Some of the biggest career progression challenges respondents reported are:
    • Unclear career paths for cybersecurity roles (34%)
    • Lack of organizational knowledge of cybersecurity skills (32%)
    • The cost of education to prepare for a cybersecurity career (28%)
  • The four areas cybersecurity pros feel they will need to develop most or improve on over the next two years in order to advance in their careers include:
    • Cloud computing security
    • Penetration testing
    • Threat intelligence analysis
    • Forensics

For more data points and additional context on the cybersecurity workforce gap. download the full study at


Ryan Farmer, Compliance Manager, Acumin Consulting said: “With such a broad statistic it’s important to contextualise and focus on the local rather than global. The 142,000 shortfall of security professionals in EMEA somewhat pales in comparison to those in Asia and the US. The relatively small number is reflective of greater market maturity and stability across Europe. Although the gap may seem daunting, findings such as the fall in average age and the increase in women in the industry, reinforces the value of efforts already being made to tackle the general skills shortage and demographic imbalances.

The ongoing supply gap of cyber security personnel is a reminder of the importance of having a strong team retention and effective hiring processes. Measures such as tailoring roles and providing internal mentoring and training, are vital in both attracting and retaining staff. Visibility and proactivity in the market are a must for those organisations seeking to fill roles.

There are also lessons for jobseekers in how they manage their careers moves and development in such an opportunity-rich market. The support and advice of peer networks and mentors can be invaluable in maintaining a clear career path and focused development. Industry reports from reputable sources can also provide up to date insights into the impact of the skills gap in the market. Acumin have recently released our own annual salary survey showing trends in demand for skills sets within cyber security here. ”

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