Organizations change recruitment strategies to find cyber talent

An estimated 4 million professionals are needed to fill the growing cybersecurity workforce gap, according to Fortinet.

cybersecurity skills shortage risks

At the same time, Fortinet’s 2024 Global Cybersecurity Skills Gap Report found that 70% of organizations indicated that the cybersecurity skills shortage creates additional risks for their organizations.

In the past year, 90% of organizational leaders said they experienced a breach that they can partially attribute to a lack of cyber skills, up from 84% in the 2023 report and 80% the year prior.

Breaches have a more substantial impact on businesses

Breaches have a variety of repercussions, ranging from financial to reputational challenges. This year’s survey reveals that corporate leaders are increasingly being held accountable for cyber incidents, with 51% of respondents noting that directors or executives have faced fines, jail time, loss of position, or loss of employment following a cyberattack.

Additionally, more than 50% of respondents indicated that breaches cost their organizations more than $1 million in lost revenue, fines, and other expenses last year—up from 48% in the 2023 report and 38% from the previous year.

As a result, executives and boards of directors increasingly prioritize cybersecurity, with 72% of respondents saying their boards were more focused on security in 2023 than the previous year. And 97% of respondents say their board sees cybersecurity as a business priority.

Business leaders widely regard certifications as validation of cybersecurity knowledge, and those who hold a certification or work with someone who does notice clear benefits.

Leaders believe that certifications improve security posture

Respondents place such high value on certifications that 89% said they would pay for an employee to obtain a cybersecurity certification. 70% of respondents indicated that it is difficult to find candidates with technology-focused certifications.

As the cyber workforce shortage persists, some organizations diversify their recruitment pools to include candidates whose credentials fall outside traditional backgrounds—such as a four-year degree in cybersecurity or a related field—to attract new talent and fill open roles. Shifting these hiring requirements can unlock new possibilities, especially if organizations are also willing to pay for certifications and training.

83%t of respondents said their organizations have set diversity hiring goals for the next few years —in line with last year’s report, but slightly down from 89% in 2021.

Despite ongoing recruitment targets, female hires are down to 85% from 89% in 2022 and 88% in 2021; hires from minority groups remain unchanged at 68% and up slightly from 67% in 2021; and veteran hires are up slightly to 49% from 47% in 2022, but down from 53% in 2021.

Despite many respondents saying they value certifications, 71% of organizations still require four-year degrees, and 66% hire only candidates with traditional training backgrounds.

Organizations are focusing on a three-pronged approach to cybersecurity

The increasing frequency of costly cyberattacks, combined with the potential of severe personal consequences for board members and directors, is resulting in an urgent push to strengthen cyber defenses across enterprises. As a result, organizations are focusing on a three-pronged approach to cybersecurity that combines training, awareness, and technology:

  • Help IT and security teams obtain vital security skills by investing in training and certifications needed to achieve this goal.
  • Cultivate a cyber-aware frontline staff who can contribute to a more secure organization as a first line of defense.
  • Use effective security solutions to ensure a strong security posture.

“The results from our latest Global Cybersecurity Skills Gap Report highlight the critical need for a collaborative, multi-faceted approach to closing the skills gap. To effectively mitigate risk and combat today’s complex threats, organizations must employ a strategic combination of leveraging the right security technology, upskilling existing security professionals through training and certifications, and fostering a cyber-aware workforce,” said John Maddison, CMO at Fortinet.

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