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Working to Overcome the Cybersecurity Skills Gap in Healthcare

The US is one of several countries with a cybersecurity skills gap, but it saw improvement as job seeker interest in cybersecurity roles rose in the past two years.

Cybersecurity skills gap must be overcome to keep sensitive data protected

Source: Thinkstock

- The cybersecurity threat landscape is ever-evolving, forcing many industries to hire individuals with applicable cybersecurity skills to keep sensitive data secure.

Healthcare is no different, with ransomware attacks, malware incidents, and other types of data security issues putting PHI and PII at risk.

However, a recent survey indicates that there is a global cybersecurity skills gap, which could create problems for organizations as they look to fill those increasingly crucial staff member roles.

Cybersecurity professionals are in high demand, according to the Indeed Cybersecurity Skills Gap Report, with Israel, Ireland, and the UK having the highest employer demand for cybersecurity talent.

Indeed surveyed 10 countries, including the US, to see where cybersecurity jobs are most in demand, where the field is showing the most growth, and where the talent gap poses the most risk to employers. Researchers utilized two years’ worth of Indeed data, from Q3 2014 to Q3 2016.

Network security specialists are the most sought after skill that organizations search for, the report found. Application security is the second most sought after area for US employers. To put the network security demand in perspective though, US companies have a 210.8 percent higher demand for network security specialists than application security.

Overall, the supply for cybersecurity professionals cannot keep up with the demand, the survey found. 

Indeed graph of cybersecurity skills deficit across different countries

Source: Indeed

While the interest gap varies across countries, researchers found that the job seeker interest does not outweigh the employer demand in any of the surveyed countries.

“When we compare clicks from job seekers to openings for cybersecurity roles posted by employers we can see just how serious the talent shortage gets, and the scale of the risk it represents for organizations,” the report’s authors wrote.

The cybersecurity skills gap is shrinking in some countries. Seven of the surveyed countries showed that the supply of cybersecurity professionals is closer to meeting demand today than it was two years ago.

In the US, the share of clicks/share of postings for cybersecurity in Q3 2014 was 60 percent. In Q3 2016 that number rose to 67 percent.

Ireland showed the greatest improvement, with 2014 job seeker interest in cybersecurity positions only meeting 25 percent of the employer demand. The same quarter in 2016 showed that the country was now meeting 39 percent of the demand.

Ensuring that the healthcare C-suite is filled with individuals who have necessary cybersecurity skills is a key way to create a strong data security approach.

As Witt/Kieffer’s Chris Wierz told HealthITSecurity.com earlier this month, healthcare organization leaders cannot afford to ignore potential cybersecurity issues.

Additionally, there are four main potential minefields that CIOs may encounter, with one area of concern being security and privacy.

“In the case of security and privacy, it's become such a huge issue in terms of being on the top of everybody's priority list and probably the most visible and potentially the most costly area,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons why we put it first.”

Security has become much more of a separate issue that organizations aggressively searching for a CISO are not looking at it from just an IT perspective, Wierz said. Entities want CISOs who will have capabilities to make change that isn’t managed strictly within an IT scope.

“We're seeing organizations looking for the credentials behind the individual, such as their experience in setting up security assessments and security planning,” Wierz said. “But they’re also looking for experience in handling security issues so that people can say, ‘How did you handle it? Did you go off the deep end or did you handle it in a professional way with the right transparency and communication? Did you learn from that?’”

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