Skills gap could leave firms exposed to security vulnerabilities

Skills gap

Almost half of UK organisations (47%) are concerned about losing security capabilities altogether in the event of a skills gap, according to a new survey.

The study, conducted by Dimensional Research, looked at the state of technical skills in cybersecurity. The poll of 315 IT security professionals at companies with over 100 employees found that of those, 52% were concerned about staying on top of vulnerabilities, 29% were concerned with keeping track of devices and software on the network, and 24% were concerned about identifying and responding to issues in a timely manner and staying on top of emerging threats.

In the survey, 79% of respondents said they believe the need for technical skills among security staff has increased over the past two years. More than 50% cited network monitoring, IT fundamentals and vulnerability management as the most important technical security skills needed on security teams.

Respondents were also asked how they expect their security team's expertise to grow in the next few years. It found that 88% expected the need for expertise in the cloud to increase, while 77% expect the need for expertise in the Internet of Things (IoT) to increase. Another 7% expect the need for expertise in DevOps to increase.

Looking outside their organisations, 97% say technology vendors can help address the skills gap and 91% of respondents said specifically that they will outsource security skills to address the technical skills gap.

"Considering the recent high-profile threats that have been attributed to unpatched systems, it's no wonder respondents are concerned that a technical skills gap could leave their organisations exposed to new vulnerabilities," said Tim Erlin, vice president of product management and strategy at Tripwire, the firm that commissioned the survey. "I'm encouraged to see that respondents are prioritising skills for foundational security controls, such as vulnerability management and network monitoring, when they're hiring."

Erlin added: "Growing adoption of cloud, IoT and DevOps brings about new challenges that security teams will need to keep up with, and if organizations want to bridge a technical skills gap they should look to work with security vendors and managed security providers who can help them address today's major attack types, while also offering training to their existing IT teams. As security continues to become an even bigger challenge for organizations we can expect to see more and more businesses outsourcing to gain security expertise in the future."

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.