Why does an IT security skills gap threaten UK firms?

More firms than at any point in the past now have access to internet connections, but with this increased access to technology comes a rise in cyber security threats.

Any firm with a connection could be at risk and reports of lone cyber-attacks and criminal hacking are all on the rise.

Businesses can take action to defend themselves but therein lies part of the problem – there is a lack of suitably skilled and trained individuals capable of providing the required protection.

Two thirds of businesses have been victims of a cyber-attack in the last year according to government figures, with the costs of the attacks ranging from thousands of pounds to millions.

It is not just larger firms that are being hit either, as Symantec suggests that 43% of cyber-attacks in 2015 were against small firms, and that figure continues to rise.

One of the main issues for businesses and their cyber security surrounds their data – more critical information is now held by businesses and it all needs to be effectively secured.

Not only does a firm risk significant damage to its reputation should data be leaked, but it may also face financial fines and a drop in custom – it may even be the first step towards administration and ultimately insolvency in severe instances as a business can struggle to recover.

It makes the security of data a key issue, as it needs to be adequately protected from both external attacks and internal breaches.

Not only can this process be costly but it is also very technical, meaning a lack of suitably skilled staff could ultimately threaten a firm’s existence if they left unprotected.

Frost and Sullivan predict that there will be a global shortfall of 1.5 million IT security professionals by 2020, highlighting the potential scale of the issue.

Recovering from a cyber-attack is made more difficult too, as one in five firms suggest it could take anything from eight days to eight weeks to put right, with almost half blaming a lack of skilled workers.

The situation at hand may not have an immediate solution, but businesses will need to consider cyber-security to an even greater extent as the use of the technology increases.

By Phil Smith

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