Skills gap in cyber security must be addressed

THE global community will need more cyber-security experts as challenges on cyber security are getting bigger and becoming more complicated, according to a top official of computing colossus International Business Machines (IBM).

“The world is not producing enough talent to work on cyber-security problems as they get worse by the day,” said Malcolm Rowe, business unit executive for Asean of IBM Security, in a recent briefing with Manila-based IT journalists.

Rowe lamented a lot of organizations are reluctant in investing in strengthening their cyber-security infrastructure because of the cost factor. Although cost is an important factor in managing and running the operations of an organization, he stressed that chief information officers must push in implementing a cyber-sercurity program to protect its business. Moreover, he said automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning can complement a cyber-security program. “It is a combination of all the above,” Rowe pointed out.

In a recent survey, IBM pointed out that the cyber-security skills gap weakens cyber-security networks, as organizations are understaffed and unable to properly manage resources and needs. Survey participants stated they lack the head count to properly maintain and test their incident response plans, and are facing 10 to 20 open seats on cyber-security teams.

“In fact, only 30 percent of the respondents reported that staffing for cyber security is sufficient to achieve a high level of cyber resilience. Furthermore, 75 percent of respondents rate their difficulty in hiring and retaining skilled cyber-security personnel as moderately high to high,” the report said.

“Adding to the skills gap, nearly half of respondents [48 percent] admitted their organization deploys too many separate security tools, ultimately increasing operational complexity and reducing visibility in overall security posture,” the report added. The report also noted organizations are finally acknowledging that collaboration between privacy and cyber security improves cyber resilience, with 62 percent indicating that aligning teams is essential to achieving resilience. Most respondents believe the privacy role is becoming increasingly important, especially with the emergence of new regulations, like GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act, and are prioritizing data protection when making information-technology buying decisions.

When asked what the top factor was in justifying cyber-security spend, 56 percent of respondents said information loss or theft. This was in response to the demands of consumers to businesses to exert more efforts in protecting their data. According to a recent survey by IBM, 78 percent of respondents say a company’s ability to keep their data private is extremely important, and only 20 percent completely trust the organizations they interact with to maintain the privacy of their data.

In addition, most respondents also reported having a privacy leader employed, with 73 percent stating they have a chief privacy officer, further proving that data privacy has become a top priority in organizations.

Conducted by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by IBM Resilient, “The 2019 Cyber Resilient Organization” is the fourth annual benchmark study on cyber resilience.

The global survey features insight from more than 3,600 security and IT professionals in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Brazil, Australia, Middle East and Asia Pacific.

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