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With new tech comes new threats

Cyber skills are key to emerging tech adoption, writes Graham Hunter, VP EMEA at the IT industry body CompTIA.

Innovation is what keeps us moving forward, but what if we can’t keep up? While adoption of new technologies is at an all-time high, new data shows that Europe’s cybersecurity skills gap has almost doubled over the past year, with more than 291,000 more security professionals needed to meet business demand this year alone. We’re beginning to see the consequences of incomplete cyber teams faltering under the pressure of emerging technologies, with cyber-attacks costing businesses an astronomical $45bn a year. The hack of Ethereum Classic of February last year showed that even the supposedly impenetrable blockchain can suffer a cyber-attack, demonstrating why it has never been so important for organisations to tackle the cyber skills gap head on, with an approach that adapts as technology develops.

This challenge to businesses is only going to get bigger. Already, three in five senior business leaders report that the skill shortage has worsened over the last year, despite the demand for IT workers increasing year-on-year. With a predicted 36 billion devices connected to the internet by the end of 2020, all of which increases risk of exposure to cybersecurity threats, it is vital that organisations go above and beyond to facilitate up-skilling their workforces to keep up with emerging threats. 2020 will see technologies like AI augmenting workplaces to new levels of efficiency, but these gains are matched by the evolving potential of cybercriminals, who will always find a way to exploit vulnerabilities in security technologies. Organisations must exercise caution when implementing new technologies to ensure they are fully equipped to deal with the threats that come with them.

An evolving approach to professional development is necessary to ensure roles are adaptable as technology emerges and new threats with it. By continually up-skilling the workforce as new technologies are developed, organisations can ensure they are up to date in both technological advancement and protection against the latest threats. To do this, focus must shift from looking at who can be recruited to fill roles – which often takes weeks, if not months to fulfil – to who can be up-skilled from inside the organisation and adapt to new challenges. Organisations that invest lifelong learning for the talent they already have are much more adaptable, and therefore able to secure themselves from the threat innovation brings.

Keeping up

The digital transformation of business is happening at an unprecedented speed, with already a quarter of large enterprises adopting blockchain technology, for example. However, businesses are not matching their technological progress by updating the technical skills of their employees. This year, the Industrial Strategy Council published a report which found that more than a quarter of workers lack the qualifications required by their job, which is unsurprising considering how quickly technology is moving. To keep up with the transformation, businesses must improve the adaptability and preparedness of their workforce, which comes from changing the way they think about training and skills development. As opposed to recruiting for specific skill-sets and job roles, certification and re-training programmes whilst in a role offer industry-first learning. These pathways allow employees to up-skill while they work and are ultimately a cost-effective way for businesses to tackle cyber threats.

More adaptability is more security

To tackle the cyber skills gap and keep up with emerging technology, an evolving approach to training is needed. Processes must be highly adaptable to keep up with the speed of new tech and the new threats it brings. Up-skilling employees already working in tech ensures that they are armed with the latest skills that can tackle the business challenges that comes with implementing new technologies. With adaptability needs to come caution when investing in new technologies. Hence, rather than rushing to implement every new technology that is available, businesses must first ensure they have the capacity to train their employees to deal with the potential threats that come with it.


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