IN A SOLARWINDS CYBERSECURITY SURVEY IN THE US , 91 % OF STATE AND LOCAL RESPONDENTS INDICATED IT SECURITY OPERATIONS ARE CURRENTLY PROVIDED BY IN-HOUSE STAFF .
During the COVID-19 pandemic , many
government agencies rapidly shifted their personnel to remote working . Speaking at the techUK annual Building the Smarter State event , Craig Eblett , Digital Delivery Director at the Department for Work and Pensions ( DWP ), discussed the need to distribute computer devices and equipment to approximately 40,000 staff at the Home Office to enable remote working ( previously , only up to 6,000 employees were able to work remotely ) and a continued supply of services to citizens .
This placed government cybersecurity professionals under immense pressure to secure work-from-home environments from opportunistic hackers . In the meantime , a rise in online traffic to vital government services ( such as education and healthcare ) has created a pressing need for cybersecurity and IT professionals to alleviate the risk associated with this unprecedented increase in demand .
The pandemic has presented new challenges for central government organisations , many of which were already dealing with a shortfall in cybersecurity skills . According to research published earlier in 2020 by the Department for Digital , Culture , Media & Sport ( DCMS ), approximately 48 % of businesses have a basic skills gap – with 30 % acknowledging more advanced skills gaps – in areas such as penetration testing , forensic analysis and security architecture .
Prior to the pandemic , organisations were struggling to compete for talent . This owed to a combination of inability to compete with private sector salaries and limited funds to contract external providers .
In a SolarWinds cybersecurity survey in the US , 91 % of state and local respondents indicated IT security operations are currently provided by in-house staff . The pandemic has stretched existing IT security the world over to its limits , resulting in state and local government coalitions asking Congress for increased cybersecurity funding and resources .
In the UK , £ 10 million was made available by the government in June 2020 to be invested over a four-year period to advance cybersecurity technology solutions .
From a skills perspective , though there are many challenges for government organisations to overcome in attracting quality talent , they ’ re not unbeatable . Here are a few ways to build additional cybersecurity talent .
1 . Increase current cybersecurity skills
Severe revenue shortages are already impacting budgets and they ’ re evident in hiring as well . Without the funds to attract new talent , public sector CIOs and CISOs should look to upskill existing talent . Organisations can offer training options like cybersecurity bootcamps to provide IT personnel with cybersecurity skills or help existing security staff learn new ones . If budget is a bigger issue , there are alternatives to formal training .
Hands-on , low-cost activities like cyberwarfare gaming , ethical hacking and simulations allow security professionals to ask questions , experiment , hone their skills and form valuable bonds with their peers .
Industry training is another useful tool . In the absence of in-person events and seminars , many cybersecurity vendors are offering free webinars and other forms of educational content . However , for any of these forms of self-study to be effective , managers must give their teams the opportunity and time to focus .
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