The Workforce Shortage in Cybersecurity Is a Myth

The Workforce Shortage in Cybersecurity Is a Myth
What we really have is an automation-in-the-wrong-place problem.

You hear it at every conference and in the halls of every university computer science program. It's mentioned in every sales pitch for cybersecurity tools and outsourcing services: There simply aren't enough qualified cybersecurity professionals.

The problem is that this statement assumes that the process of securing systems and enterprises is just fine as it is. That simple claim assumes that we need each and every one of the jobs posted, listed, and forecasted.

We don't have a workforce shortage problem. What we have is an automation-in-the-wrong-place problem. It's not about training people to do traditional network security. What we need are mathematical models that meaningfully predict risk and provide pathways to reduce it.

This lesson is easily seen in vulnerability management, but it's applicable to other fields. Think of it this way: The typical enterprise network has millions of vulnerabilities. On median, our research found that out of about 500 enterprises, IT teams fix 10% of those vulnerabilities, though some exceptional performers patch 25% on a monthly basis.

If companies were to hire enough people to eliminate every vulnerability from their systems, they'd need to at least quadruple their workforce devoted to the task. And that, of course, assumes that the rate at which vulnerabilities are found and disclosed stays constant, which it doesn't — it's constantly increasing. Does that seem reasonable? It is not.

But another reason lies in the nature of vulnerabilities themselves. For the vast majority of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs), the risk of exploitation is entirely theoretical. That is, nobody has weaponized the vulnerability with an exploit.

Traditionally, enterprises have treated vulnerability management as a manp ..