To Narrow the Cyber Skills Gap with Attackers, Cut the Red Tape

To Narrow the Cyber Skills Gap with Attackers, Cut the Red Tape
Attackers are getting further ahead, and entrenched corporate rules shoulder much of the blame.

In recent years, the cyber skills gap between attackers and defenders has widened. Corporate security teams — their hands tied by budget constraints, box-ticking exercises, internal politics, and outdated training — are struggling to catch up. More than half of organizations now consider the shortage of adequately trained cybersecurity professionals to be a major problem.

Attackers, on the other hand, have no such problem. Unfettered by corporate issues, they operate in the type of purist environment in which technical talent thrives. They "learn by doing" — continually coming up with creative ideas to solve a problem, rewarding curiosity and perseverance, and encouraging innovation. Because of this, they remain steadfastly in the lead. While many companies talk about a need to address the cyber skills gap, few are challenging existing norms. The security sector is good at tearing up rule books, so it's about time this applied to skills development.

Deeply embedded legacy process lies at the heart of an organization's cyber skills gap. For example, HR teams typically are involved in the hiring of cyber talent. Not that this is wrong, but while filtering candidates, an absence of specialized technical knowledge is often compensated for by an overreliance on formal accreditations and certifications.

Although certifications do have relevance and carry weight, they can also exclude genuine talent. They rely on the person having the time and resources to undertake them in the first place, discounting those who don't have either or even possess the mindset to do structured courses in the first place. As many in the industry know, raw, unstructured talent often is the best.

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