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Professionals surveyed

That automation might do away with jobs was aired in the 2020 Cybersecurity Professionals Salary, Skills and Stress Survey, of practitioners, for an analytics firm. Overall, cyber pros are satisfied, as 96pc of respondents indicated they are happy with role and responsibilities and 87pc reportedly pleased with salary and earnings.

The purpose of the survey is to gain insights on salary, education, job satisfaction, and general attitudes toward emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML), among cybersecurity professionals. The survey was fielded to more than 350 in the United States (US), Singapore (SG), Germany (DE), Australia (AUS) and the United Kingdom (UK), collated by research company Censuswide.

Samantha Humphries, security strategist at Exabeam said: “The concern for automation among younger professionals in cybersecurity was surprising to us. In trying to understand this sentiment, we could partially attribute it to lack of on-the-job training using automation technology. As we noted earlier this year in our State of the SOC research, ambiguity around career path or lack of understanding about automation can have an impact on job security. It’s also possible that this is a symptom of the current economic climate or a general lack of experience navigating the workforce during a global recession.”

Of respondents under the age of 45, 53pc agreed or strongly agreed that AI and ML are a threat to their job security. This is contrasted with just 25pc of respondents 45 and over who feel the same, possibly indicating that subsets of security people in particular prefer to write rules and manually investigate. When asked directly about automation software, 89pc of respondents under 45 years old believed it would improve their jobs, yet 47pc are still threatened by its use. This is again in contrast with the 45 and overs, where 80pc believed automation would simplify their work, and only 22pc felt threatened by its use. Examining the sentiments around automation by region, 47pc of US respondents were concerned about job security when automation software is in use, as well as SG (54pc), DE (42pc), AUS (40pc) and UK (33pc). In Exabeam’s 2019 survey, which drew insights from professionals throughout the US, the UK, AUS, Canada, India and the Netherlands, only 10pc overall believed that AI and automation were a threat to their jobs.

The survey found increases in job approval across the board, with an upward trend in satisfaction around role and responsibilities (96pc), salary (87pc) and work/life balance (77pc). When asked what else they enjoyed about their jobs, respondents listed working in an environment with professional growth (15pc) as well as opportunities to challenge oneself (21pc) as top motivators. Just over half (53pc) reported jobs that are either stressful or very stressful, which is down from last year (62pc). Interestingly, despite being among those that are generally threatened by automation software, 100pc of respondents aged 18-24 reported feeling secure in their roles and were happiest with their salaries (93pc).

Though the number of female respondents rose this year, it remains to be seen whether this will emerge as a trend. This year’s male respondents (78pc) are down 13pc from last year (91pc). In 2019, nearly 41pc were in the profession for at least 10 years or more. This year, a larger percentage (83pc) have 10 years or less, and more than one-third (34pc) have been in the cybersecurity industry for five years or less. Additionally, one-third do not have formal cybersecurity degrees.

Phil Routley, senior product marketing manager, APJ, at Exabeam said: “There is evidence that automation and AI/ML are being embraced, but this year’s survey exposed fascinating generational differences when it comes to professional openness and using all available tools to do their jobs. And while gender diversity is showing positive signs of improvement, it’s clear we still have a very long way to go in breaking down barriers for female professionals in the security industry.”


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