Cybersecurity Skills Gap Contributes to Security Breaches, Fortinet Research Finds

Much has been made — rightfully so — of the cybersecurity skills gap hammering productivity, burdening staff and hampering organizations’ ability to defend themselves.

The shortfall between the number of jobs and the number of qualified cyber pros is roughly estimated at three million. A cybersecurity skills gap study from security company Fortinet found direct connections between the talent gap, security breaches and loss of money. The research surveyed some 1,200 security professionals in 29 different locations in the technology, manufacturing and financial industries.

“The cybersecurity skills shortage continues to have multiple challenges and repercussions for organizations, including the occurrence of security breaches and subsequently loss of money,” Forinet said in a prepared statement.

In response, the company has pledged that by 2026 it will have trained one million professionals on cyber awareness and “make a dent in the skills gap.” Other vendors, most notably Microsoft, have similar initiatives in place.

Here are some findings from Fortinet’s study:

On security breaches.

  • 80 percent of organizations surveyed have suffered at least one breach they could attribute to a lack of cybersecurity skills or awareness.
  • 64 percent of organizations experienced breaches that resulted in loss of revenue, recovery costs and/or fines.

On board involvement.

  • 88 percent of organizations that have a board of directors reported that their board asks questions specifically about cybersecurity.
  • 76 percent of organizations have a board of directors who has recommended increases in IT and cybersecurity headcount.

On certification.

  • 95 percent of leaders believe technology-focused certifications positively impact their role and their team.
  • 81 percent of leaders prefer to hire people with certifications.
  • 91 percent of respondents are willing to pay for an employee to achieve cyber certifications.

On training.

  • 87 percent of organizations have implemented a training program to increase cyber awareness.
  • 52 percent of leaders believe their employees still lack necessary knowledge.
  • 60 percent of leaders admit their organization struggles with recruitment.
  • 52 percent struggle to retain talent.

On recruitment.

  • 7 out of 10 leaders see the recruitment of women and new graduates as a top hiring hurdle.
  • 61 percent said hiring minorities has been challenging.
  • 89 percent of global companies have explicit diversity goals as part of their hiring strategy.
  • 75 percent of organizations have formal structures to specifically recruit more women.
  • 59 percent have strategies in place to hire minorities.
  • 51 percent of organizations have efforts in place to hire more veterans.

“The skills gap isn’t just a talent shortage challenge, but it’s also severely impacting business, making it a top concern for executive leaders worldwide,” Fortinet said.

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