With Cyber Threats on the Rise, the Cyber Sector Faces a New Challenge: Finding Talent


As hackers get more sophisticated with the cybercrimes they commit, cybersecurity—and the professionals who support the sector—remain crucial for businesses and individuals vulnerable to an attack. Amid a pandemic, businesses operate differently than they did just a year ago, and cyber criminals leverage the opportunity to launch cyberattacks on various types of businesses. During National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) takes a closer look at some of the workforce challenges related to cybersecurity in 2020.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) are promoting the 2020 Cybersecurity Awareness Month theme, “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.” As the world of business continues amid the backdrop of COVID-19, cybercrimes have accelerated across the globe. Security experts have revealed that hackers seeking to infiltrate vulnerable businesses (including healthcare systems treating patients) with cyber-attacks have been successful. One cyber counter-terrorism expert and founder of the cybersecurity firm MonsterCloud, reports that ransomware attacks are up 800% during the pandemic, as cybercriminals are taking advantage of the pandemic to steal money, business, and personal information.

In March, the FBI issued a statement about severity of the situation, noting the rise in fraud schemes related to the coronavirus pandemic. It warned that internet scams and cybercrimes can come in the form of fake CDC emails and phishing emails asking individuals to verify personal information.

While a number of standardization organizations provide businesses some resilience to cyber-attacks with updated standards, one overarching issue in 2020 is the sparse talent supply chain across the cybersecurity sector as cybercrimes are on the rise.

With the Rise of Cybercrime, Sector Struggles with Talent Shortage

Christos Makridis, research professor at Arizona State University and regular contributor for Forbes, highlights the cybersecurity talent challenge and the benefits that a cyber career can offer in a recent article, Make $100,000/Year By Filling The Cyber Skills Gap, noting how ANSI-affiliate Workcred helps connect and educate stakeholders to create a more integrated and effective credentialing system. Workcred staff is working to promote the value or return on investment of non-degree credentials, which can help boost candidate qualifications; these credentials may prove valuable tools as the cyber industry looks to fill the skills gap.

Workcred, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, and the University Professional and Continuing Education Association recently completed a project exploring how students can earn both degrees and certifications as part of their four-year degree program. Along with its partners, Workcred brought together universities and certification bodies from across the nation to identify opportunities to embed certifications into undergraduate degree programs, including in the growing field of cybersecurity.

Improved career outcomes for students―including higher salaries, improved rates of hire, and faster promotion tracks―are the ultimate goal of this initiative. Later this fall, Workcred and its partners will release a framework laying the groundwork for potential pilot programs to test different strategies and practices to better align certifications and degrees.

As Workcred's executive director Roy Swift, Ph.D., recently highlighted in a webinar titled "COVID: Certification’s Opportunity to Create Value in a Chaotic Work World," certifications can provide a fast solution: they can provide workers with the skills they need during the pandemic. Certifications also help fill the workforce pool with knowledgeable candidates for employers seeking talent.

Learn more about Workcred's recent efforts to spread awareness about the power of quality credentials via Workcred.org.

Access more information on Cybersecurity Awareness Month and resources to reduce cybersecurity risks via CISA's website.

See Related Articles on Cybersecurity:

Request for Feedback on the Standardization Community's Interest in Developing Space Cyber Standards

ANSI Innovation Series: How the Information and Communications Technology Industry Keeps Lives on the Line During COVID-19

Cybersecurity Standards and the 2015 Ukraine Power Grid Attack by Sam Cohen, Georgetown University, winner of the 2019 ANSI student paper competition.