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Government strives to increase diversity in cyber security

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The third round of funding through the Cyber Skills Immediate Impact Fund (CSIIF) has been launched by Cyber Security Minister Nigel Adams.

The Fund aims to increase the number and diversity of people entering the cyber security profession, with training providers able to bid for up to £100,000 to work with employers and design training programmes which retrain a diverse range of individuals for a career in cyber security.

Alongside this Adams has also announced that after a competitive grant competition, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has been appointed the lead organisation in charge of designing and delivering the new UK Cyber Security Council, alongside a wider alliance of cyber security professional organisations.

The UK Cyber Security Council will aim to coordinate the existing professional landscape, to make cyber security a well structured and easy to navigate profession which represents, supports and drives excellence going forward.

Cyber Security Minister Nigel Adams said: “The UK is a world leader in tackling cyber attacks but we must make sure we continue to develop the talent we need to protect the public and business online.

“This latest round of funding demonstrates our commitment to make sure the UK’s cyber security industry has a skilled and diverse workforce and, through our new Cyber Security Council, there are clear paths for those wishing to join the profession.”

Simon Edwards, IET Director of Governance and External Engagement, said: “It’s fundamental that cyber security is seen as a nationally recognised and established profession with clear career pathways. The IET, alongside an alliance of professional cyber security organisations, will bring together the credibility and knowledge across a wide range of disciplines to further strengthen the UK’s leadership position in cyber security innovation and resilience on the global stage. With cyber skills shortages already emerging at every level, we are committed to working with the Government and the National Cyber Security Centre on delivering the rapid, yet capable development of specialist cyber skills to meet the growing needs of the industry, manage risk and secure the next generation of talent.”

Jacqueline de Rojas, President, techUK said: “As businesses become ever more reliant on digital tools, the need for a skilled and professional cyber workforce in the UK has increased. Yet the Government’s National Cyber Security Skills Strategy found that more than half of all businesses and charities in the UK have a basic cyber security skills gap.

“Increasing diversity in the sector is one way in which we can seek to plug the growing cyber skills gap, and that is why initiatives like the Immediate Impact Fund are so important. Coupled with the creation of a new Cyber Security Council that will create clearer pathways for people entering the sector, these announcements will go a long way to ensuring that we create and nurture our cyber professionals and continue making the UK the safest place to be online.”

The deadline for applications to the Cyber Skills Immediate Impact Fund (CSIIF) is the 27th September.

Twelve initiatives have already received support from CSIIF with more than 400 people benefitting from training opportunities.

Skills shortage and 5G fears at European data centres

150 150 Stuart O'Brien

Continuing unprecedented demand for new datacentres, fears around the shortage of skilled professionals, concerns about the future disruption of 5G, and the limited impact of Brexit are some of the key findings from the latest industry survey from Business Critical Solutions (BCS).

The Summer Report, now in its 10th year, is undertaken by independent research house IX Consulting, who capture the views of over 300 senior datacentre professionals across Europe, including owners, operators, developers, consultants and end users. It is commissioned by BCS, a specialist services provider to the digital infrastructure industry. 

The report highlights the rising demand for datacentres with almost two thirds of users exceeding 80% of their capacity today, 70% having increased capacity in the last six months and almost 60% planning increase capacity next year.

This demand is currently being driven by cloud computing with over three quarters of respondents identifying 5G and Artificial Intelligence (AI) as disruptors for the future.

With industry predictions that edge computing will have 10 times the impact of cloud computing in the future, half of respondents believe it will be the biggest driver of new datacentres.

However, the survey found that the market remains confident that supply can be maintained, with over 90% of developers stating they have expanded their datacentre portfolio in the last six months.

With regards to supply, there are concerns that a shortage of sufficiently qualified professionals at the design and build stages will cause a bottle neck, with 64% of datacentre users and experts believing there is a lack of skilled design resource in the UK. AI and Machine Learning may help to mitigate these issues with nearly two thirds of respondents confident that datacentres will utilise these to simplify operations and drive efficiency.

The political uncertainty around Brexit continues to impact the sector with 78% of respondents believing that it will create an increase in demand for UK-based datacentres. However, the overall feeling was that the fundamentals underpinning the demand for datacentre space, such as the continued proliferation of technology-led services, outweighs these concerns and the European datacentre market will overcome any difficulties that occur.

Commenting on the report, James Hart, CEO at BCS, said: “As always this report makes for fascinating reading and I was encouraged by the overwhelming positive sentiment to forecast growth and the limited impact of Brexit. The fact that half of our respondents believe that edge computing will be the biggest driver of new datacentres tallies with our own convictions. We believe that the edge of the network will continue to be at the epicentre of innovation in the datacentre space and we are seeing a strong increase in the number of clients coming to us for help with the development of their edge strategy and rollouts.”

The full report can be downloaded here.

Image by Jorge Guillen from Pixabay

Digital skills shortages ‘costing UK £63bn a year’

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

A lack of technical expertise has fuelled skills shortages across the UK for the last two decades.

That is according to comparative analysis of the professional jobs market by The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).

A 1999 report from University College London said almost half (47%) of all ‘skill-shortage vacancies’ that year could be attributed to a lack of technical expertise.

For ‘associate professional and technical’ roles, the need for ‘advanced IT’ skills was responsible for 31% of vacancies, while a lack of ‘other technical and practical skills’ were responsible for a further 49% of all open roles.

A separate report published the same year by Computer Weekly revealed that C++ developers were the most in-demand professionals with Java the second most sought-after skill in the IT recruitment market.

Now, research from The Edge Foundation suggests that around half of all employers (51%) have been forced to leave a role open because there are no suitable candidates available, and that tech job vacancies are costing the UK economy £63 billion a year.

LinkedIn data indicates that cloud and distributed computing is the most valued skill among employers, with user interface design, SEO/SEM marketing and mobile development also featuring in the top 10.

Commenting on the analysis, Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo, said: “While the specific skills that employers are seeking have changed dramatically over the past two decades, the fact that talent gaps continue to be aligned with technical competencies suggests that we need to do more to boost Britain’s digital capabilities.

“Our members have long reported shortages of talent across the IT and digital fields. For this reason, it is crucial that we ensure that we retain access to the STEM professionals that businesses need in the short term – through maintaining access to global talent and retaining our flexible labour market.

“However, perhaps more importantly, we must pipeline the calibre and volume of skills we need for the future so that we break free from this perpetual skills shortage. As this data indicates, for the past 20 years we have been playing catch-up – and we must break the cycle if individual businesses, and the wider UK economy, are to fulfil their full potential.”

Universities invited to apply for NCSC certification

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Universities across the UK now have a further opportunity for their cyber-security related degrees to gain certification as part of the National Cyber Security Strategy.

After a rigorous process, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – a part of GCHQ – has already certified 23 Master’s degrees, three Integrated Master’s and three Bachelor’s degrees from 19 universities over the last four years.

With applications now open the NCSC is looking for fresh candidates to increase these figures, with degree apprenticeships now also eligible.

NCSC-certified degrees are designed to help universities attract high quality students from around the world, employers to recruit skilled staff and prospective students to make better informed choices when looking for a highly valued qualification.

The degree certification programme is part of a range of programmes which the NCSC and its government partners have initiated across UK academia designed to address the knowledge, skills and capability requirements for cyber security research and education.

The other programmes include Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACEs-CSR), Academic Research Institutes, and Centres for Doctoral Training in Cyber Security.

Chris Ensor, NCSC Deputy Director for Cyber Skills and Growth, said: “I’m really pleased that we’ve now launched a programme for certifying degree apprenticeships.  This will be a valuable addition to our certified undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes.

“Degree Apprenticeships offer a flexible option for both students and employers, as we have seen from our own Degree Apprenticeship programme.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing some more successful applications, and strongly encourage any interested universities to get in touch and find out more.”

Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said: “The fast-paced world of technology is constantly evolving and it is vital that young people have the option to study high quality courses in cutting edge industries, such as cyber security.

“We want to maximise choice and flexibility for people wanting to study in higher education, whether that’s as part of a traditional course or a degree apprenticeship.

“Not only will these certified degrees provide a benchmark for future cyber security professionals, but also help to ensure they are ready for the world of work and prepare them for an exciting career.”

Institutions who are interested in applying for certification can find out further detail via https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/information/ncsc-degree-certification-call-new-applicants-0

UK police team up with Cisco for cyber security training

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Cisco Networking Academy has announced plans to team up with the UK’s police force in a bid to make the country’s cyber space a safer environment.

The initiative will see officers all over the country trained in best cyber security practices and has been described as a ‘pivotal partnership’.

As well as sharing its expertise in the field of cyber security, Cisco will also be running scaleable and accessible programmes for police officers, of which the company revealed there are at least 12,000 across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland currently maintaining the safety and security of online and offline worlds. 

“We are very pleased to be working with Cisco Networking Academy. By joining the programme, forces can access training designed to raise awareness and increase their understanding of cybercrime and cyber threats, while also gaining insights into the procedures used to defend networks,” said Andy Beet, National Police Chiefs’ Council, Data Communications Group, Futures Lead. 

“It’s important for all police officers to understand cybersecurity as fully as possible; by doing so they can develop their knowledge in this increasingly important area, improving security in both their professional and personal lives,” Beet concluded.

IT employment landscape dominated by AI & cybersecurity

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Nearly one in three organisations plans to increase their IT staff in 2019, with AI and cybersecurity top of the list of skills required.

The 2019 State of IT report from Spiceworks surveyed 1,000 tech professionals in businesses across North America and Europe, and also found that one in four IT pros plans to seek new employment; with millennials are most likely to job hop.

Behind cybersecurity skills, AI tech expertise is the number two skill large enterprises are seeking, while job-hopping IT pros are primarily seeking better salaries and opportunities to advance their IT skills.

The report also found that while 29% of companies plan to increase their IT staff in 2019, most companies (59%) aren’t planning to build up their IT staff next year.

However, Spiceworks says that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not hiring at all. For example, some companies may be focused on backfilling positions formerly held by IT pros who may have left the building in search of greener pastures.

When comparing the data by company size, enterprises with 1,000+ employees are more likely to increase their IT staff next year than their smaller counterparts – the reports suggests this is because larger companies have more IT needs and data assets to manage, and they’re more likely to increase their tech spend in 2019 too.

IT security/cybersecurity skills are most sought after among companies planning to shore up IT staffing levels next year. When comparing the data by company size, it’s clear large enterprises (5,000+ employees) are more likely to seek AI expertise than their smaller counterparts. In fact, it’s the number two skill they’re looking for after security know-how.

On the other hand, midsize companies (500 to 999 employees) are more likely to seek candidates with DevOps skills. Smaller companies are more likely to prioritise hiring IT pros with end user hardware and infrastructure expertise. This finding comes as small businesses plan to significantly boost their hardware budgets in 2019.

In 2019, 26% of IT pros plan to find a new employer, 8% plan to leave the IT field for a new career, 6% plan to move into IT consulting, and 5% plan to retire.

However, job plans vary significantly by age. For example, 33% of millennial IT pros plan to seek new employment in 2019, compared to 26% of Gen X and 13% of baby boomers. Millennials are also more likely to expect a raise and promotion, while unsurprisingly, baby boomer IT pros are most likely to retire in 2019.

Additionally, when comparing the data by gender, Spiceworks says it’s worth noting that women are more likely to expect a promotion next year: 25% of female IT pros expect a promotion in 2019 compared to 14% of male IT pros. However, men are slightly more likely to anticipate a raise… 37% of men expect a raise next year compared to 33% of women.

Job plans also vary by region. For example, in the UK specifically, 38% of IT pros plan to find a new employer next year, compared to the 28% average in Europe and 24% in North America. Spiceworks speculates that this is because digital tech jobs are on the rise in the UK, which means more job opportunities for IT pros (and more temptation to job hop). In fact, according to the 2018 Tech Nation Report, UK employment in the digital tech sector increased by 13% between 2014 and 2017.

“Companies looking to maximize efficiencies and grow profits understand the potential artificial intelligence has to automate tasks and reduce the cost of doing business,” Peter Tsai, Senior Technology Analyst at Spiceworks. “But to effectively deploy and manage AI-enabled tech, organisations need workers with relevant AI skillsets and experience. And large enterprises, which often have resources dedicated to R&D, are already ahead of the game when it comes to experimenting with and getting value out of AI.”

Cybersecurity skills gap increases to 2.9 million globally

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

New research shows a widening of the global cybersecurity workforce gap to nearly three million across North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific (APAC), and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

The 2018 (ISC)² Cybersecurity Workforce Study (formerly the Global Information Security Workforce Study) is based on feedback from a sample of professionals responsible for securing their organisations around the world.

It includes IT/ICT staff within organisations ranging from large enterprises to small businesses who may or may not have formal cybersecurity roles but do have hands-on responsibility for securing critical assets every day – spending at least 25% of their time on such activities.

Key insights revealed in the study include:

  • Of the 2.93 million overall gap, the Asia-Pacific region is experi­encing the highest shortage, at 2.14 million, in part thanks to its growing economies and new cybersecurity and data privacy legislation being enacted throughout the region
  • North America has the next highest gap number at 498,000, while EMEA and Latin America contribute a 142,000 and 136,000 staffing shortfall, respectively
  • 63% of respon­dents report that their organisations have a shortage of IT staff dedicated to cybersecurity. 59% say their companies are at moderate or extreme risk of cybersecurity attacks due to this shortage.
  • 48% of respondents say their organizations plan to increase cybersecurity staffing over the next 12 months
  • 68% of respondents say they are either very or somewhat satisfied in their current job
  • Women represent 24% of this broader cybersecurity workforce (compared to 11% from previous studies), while 35% are Millennial or Gen Y (compared to less than 20% from previous studies)
  • More than half of all respon­dents globally (54%) are either pursuing cybersecurity certifications or plan to within the next year

Some of the biggest career progression challenges respondents reported are:

  • Unclear career paths for cybersecurity roles (34%)
  • Lack of organisational knowledge of cybersecurity skills (32%)
  • The cost of education to prepare for a cybersecurity career (28%)

The four areas cybersecurity pros feel they will need to develop most or improve on over the next two years in order to advance in their careers include:

  • Cloud computing security
  • Penetration testing
  • Threat intelligence analysis
  • Forensics

“This research is essential to fostering a clearer understanding of who makes up the larger pool of cybersecurity workers and enables us to better tailor our professional development programs for the men and women securing organizations day in and day out,” said (ISC)2 CEO David Shearer, CISSP. “We will share these powerful insights with our partners in government and the private sector to help establish the programs necessary to advance the cybersecurity profession. By broadening our view of the workforce to include those with collateral cybersecurity duties within IT and ICT teams, we discovered that professionals are still facing familiar challenges, but also found striking differences compared to previous research, including a younger workforce and greater representation of women.”

Download the full study at www.isc2.org/research.

Reading is UK’s top destination for cybersecurity professionals

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

A new study has revealed the top UK cities for those working in the cybersecurity industry, measured against a criteria of salary levels, affordability, job availability and sector growth potential.

Reading came out top of the rankings, followed by Leeds, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Manchester, according to data pulled together by cyber security training outfit, Crucial Academy.

The research makes for interesting reading (no pun intended) against the backdrop of the perceived skills gap within the UK’s cybersecurity community, and beyond – the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) estimates a global shortage of 2 million cyber security professionals by 2019, according to the UK House of Lords Digital Skills Committee.

In August, research from Databarracks revealed only 56 per cent of UK firms believe they have sufficient cybersecurity skills in-house to deal with the numerous threats they are facing, according to new research.

Databarracks questioned over 400 IT decision makers in the UK as part of its 10th annual, survey in order to understand their views on a series of issues relating to IT security and business continuity.

And 12 months ago the UK Government said it was “acutely aware” of the need for more skilled cyber security professionals working within the sector, and that it was embarking on a series of initiatives to help promote the profession.

Discussing the concern with members of UK technology industry body TechUK, Matt Parsons, head of cyber security skills at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said at the time: “We are looking at a number of ways to retrain people who are interested in moving into the industry at pace and at scale.

“Using what we have learned, we are planning to scale up and look at how we can support the cyber security industry – and get more people in at a quicker rate.”

Neil Williams, CEO of Crucial Academy, said: “The cyber security skills gap is a growing issue across the UK. Every city in the ranking is a tech hub within its own right, however, it is fascinating to see which cities, based on these factors, may be more attractive to the much-needed talent pool of cyber security professionals.”

Tom Marcus, an MI5 veteran who works with Crucial Academy, said: “Cyber security is one of the most serious issues UK business faces today. For young people leaving education, ex-military people looking to transition to civilian life or those looking for a career change, there is no career no more Brexit-proof than cyber security.”

Fujitsu helps set up UK cybersecurity college

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Fujitsu has launched the University Technical College (UTC) Cyber Security Group in the UK, which looks to prepare students aged 14-19 years for work in the field of cybersecurity.
Working with cyber UTCs across the country, along with the help of leading edge Security and Private Sector organisations, the group says it’s looking to bridge the security resource and skills gap that organisations face, to help better protect today’s society from cyber threats.
The group will aim to equip a minimum of 500 students a year with the right cyber skills to be able to hit the ground running when they start employment, and to better prepare those moving into Higher Education.
At launch there will be 23 organisations and UTCs who will form the group alongside Fujitsu. Those involved will have the opportunity to sponsor their local UTC, meaning they can get to know the students personally, potentially offering them a job at the end of the tenure or offering further sponsorship to allow students to go onto Higher Education.
“In a world of connected devices, and increasingly AI and machine learning, the security landscape is seeing exponential growth with attack techniques and sectors changing at an alarming rate. In light of recent attacks it is especially important that we do more to help the next generation of students better understand the positive impact that cybersecurity knowledge can have on their lives and future careers,” said Rob Norris, Vice President of Enterprise and Cyber Security, Fujitsu. “As we fast progress towards a ‘digital first’ nation, we need to ensure we are investing at the very beginning of the digital journey and developing the right skills to support the future digital economy.”
As UTCs provide an alternative and innovative technical education for students in their final years of school, whilst working in partnership with leading national and local employers, the group says it will ensure teachers are also equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge – such as updates on the latest threats and solutions, as well as available job roles – to help students leave with the relevant and appropriate skills needed for today’s digital world.
Norris added: “All organisations – private and public – are pivotal in closing the cybersecurity skills gap, ensuring our children are fully equipped for facing future inevitabilities. As this is something Fujitsu really recognises, the group will look to empower UTC students and teachers to develop the skills, knowledge and understanding of the role that cybersecurity plays in today’s business and society, preparing them to start their career in a digital world.”
Mike Halliday, Business Relations Manager for UTC Reading, UTC Swindon, and UTC Heathrow, said: “With cyber threats becoming more prolific and hackers increasingly more creative and savvy in their approach to attacks and breaches, the people and skills available to protect organisations and society must respond. While UTCs are attracting more and more ‘academic’ students, our real strength is in offering a learning journey that allows students to experience a practical education that prepares them for the world of work. Historically students may not have considered entering a cybersecurity profession, often meaning they missed out on a career that they could be good at, and one in which they’d find purpose and fulfilment.”
“The UTC Cyber Group looks to connect industry to an untapped source of thinking in order to meet the current cybersecurity challenges. There will be a particular focus on supporting students who could provide real value to an organisation due to their natural technical skill and ability. UTCs have the advantage of focusing on technical skills development, and are a real alternative for those that wish to learn hands-on, which makes a cyber UTC the ideal environment to nurture and accelerate cyber talent with the support of our industry partners.”
As part of the commitment, the group will meet every quarter to agree the course content that will be delivered to cyber security students. Each organisation will commit a minimum of five days of teaching and training to UTCs annually over the next three years.