The global cybersecurity workforce gap is widening

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New (ISC)2 research shows a widening of the global cybersecurity workforce gap to nearly three million across North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, and Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

2018 (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study

2018 (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study

The 2018 (ISC)2 Cybersecurity 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)2 CEO David Shearer. “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 findings

  • 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.

2018 (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study

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

A new cybersecurity workforce gap analysis

In addition to a broader view of the cybersecurity workforce, the 2018 (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study introduces a new gap analysis methodology. Unlike legacy gap calculation models that simply subtract supply from demand, this calculation takes other critical factors into consideration, including the percentage of organizations with open positions and the estimated growth of companies of different sizes.

The calculation of demand includes the openings that are currently available, along with an estimation of future staffing needs. The calculation of supply includes estimates for academic and non-academic entrants into the field, along with estimates of existing professionals who are moving into cybersecurity specialties. This more holistic approach to measuring the gap produces a more realistic representation of the security challenges—and opportunities—that both companies and cybersecurity pros are facing worldwide.