Skills Gap: Not Just a Technical OneU.K. Report: Shortage Hampers Ability to Protect Netizens
Britain has an IT skills gap problem, not unlike its American cousin's, as well as nearly every other nationality. And, the skills gap isn't just a technical one.
The National Audit Office, the U.K.'s equivalent of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, issued on Feb. 12 a 43-page report: The U.K. Cybersecurity Strategy: Landscape Review, which contends that it could take up to 20 years to address the skills gap at all levels of education to meet the nation's cybersecurity professional needs.
Business, government and the public must constantly be alert to the level of risk if they are to succeed in detecting and resisting the threat of cyberattack.
Citing government data, the report says the number of information and communication technology and cybersecurity professionals in Britain has not increased in line with the growth of the Internet.
The skills shortage, the report's authors write, "hampers the U.K.'s ability to protect itself in cyberspace and promote the use of the Internet both now and in the future.
"The skills the U.K. needs to design and implement cybersecurity policy are not only technical; there is also a need for psychologists; law enforcers; corporate strategists and risk managers. Other professionals such as lawyers and accountants also need to understand cybersecurity in order to assess, manage and mitigate the business risk of cyberthreats."
The NAO astutely recognizes that cybersecurity goes far beyond technological know-how. Alhough more IT security techies are needed, cybersecurity involves a large array of disciplines. Organizations cannot function in today's society unless they can secure their information and systems.
Other key facts culled from the NAO study:
- Cybercrime costs the British between Â£18 billion and Â£27 billion ($28 billion to $42 billion) per year.
- 44 million cyberattacks occurred in Britain in 2011, the latest year full numbers are available.
- 80 percent of cyberattacks could be prevented through simple computer and network hygiene.
"The threat to cybersecurity is persistent and continually evolving," Comptroller and Auditor General Amyas Morse, head of NAO, says in a statement accompanying the report's release. "Business, government and the public must constantly be alert to the level of risk if they are to succeed in detecting and resisting the threat of cyberattack."
The facts are clear - whether in Britain, the United States or elsewhere - cybersecurity is the elephant in the room that can't be ignored. Governments, businesses, not for profits, academia and individuals must work to develop the hard and soft cybersecurity skills needed to function in today's society.