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Grow the next generation of Cyber Security professionals

Blog 3 in our 3-part series for the annual IT Security awareness campaign - European Cyber Security Month.

Grow the next generation of Cyber Security professionals

In the context of recent increases in online leaks and never before encountered cyber threats, the importance of supporting the young with gaining Cyber Security skills has further come into focus. In order to grow a new generation of Cyber Security experts, training and education in the area should be provided early on.

Currently, it seems to be the case that despite the growing amount of cyber breaches with high profile victims business managers are lacking an efficient way of tackling the topic, often having its importance degraded to training once a year which likely gets ignored by employees.

According to research by Media Pro at the moment 70% of employees don’t have the basic cyber security skills to keep preventable cybersecurity accidents from happening. What’s more, the report showed that the average respondent has been distressingly close to triggering a privacy or security incident themselves, either by risky social media behaviour (two in 10 employees), working remotely using unsecured public WiFi networks (19%) or failing to recognise common signs of malware (12%).

Experts claim that despite the trend in recent years for companies to insure more meticulously that their IT infrastructure is secure, current cybersecurity training is often inadequate if it exists at all. Ideally, the goal is for businesses to indoctrinate cyber awareness into their organisation from the onset by ensuring the candidates they interview have the required skills, and they putting the right programs in policies in place to ensure Cyber Security is second nature to all employees.

More than half of the jobs in today’s world economy require a certain degree of digital and technical skills – however, according to labour market research, the candidate pool for jobs requiring digital skills in the future is expected to be just over half the number of positions available. What’s more, within the IT technology sphere, the demand for cybersecurity professionals has grown more than three times faster than any other job in the area.

One great strategy to effectively help employees build up their cybersecurity skills is through using a hands-on approach combined with gamification and/or a reward system. Adding gamification to a subject matter that could otherwise be dry and monotonous is a great way to encourage participation and actively engage users in a manner which is likely to help them anticipate future attempts.

Another effective way of keeping employees tuned in is breaking the routine of traditional training techniques and making cybersecurity awareness fun. Companies can do so by keeping things light, creating targeted social media content or perhaps even using short films to break up the tedium. Making use of new domains to start a conversation led by influential people in the business and communicating cybersecurity ‘lessons’ with a dose of humour are great ways to boost users’ engagement with the subject.

In fact, in the UK there are now a number of programs aimed at encouraging students who are interested in cybersecurity to develop valuable skills as a stepping stone for getting a job in the field. Cyber Security Challenge UK, for instance, offer a range of activities such as cybersecurity boot camps and school competitions, along with valuable resources for teachers.

Your transformation starts here.