(ISC)2 study reveals vastly improved perceptions about cybersecurity professionals

Today, (ISC)² has released the findings of their 2020 Cybersecurity Perception Study, which gives the opinions of 2,500 men and women working in cybersecurity from the UK and US. Overall, the research outlines a positive change in attitude towards working in the industry.

This report comes at an important time as we close in on National Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October, particularly with its shift to viewing cybersecurity in a more positive light. 71% of respondents said they consider cybersecurity professionals to be smart and technically skilled, and 51% stated them as “the good guys fighting cybercrime”.

The cybersecurity industry is made up of approximately 2.8 million professionals. Yet, according to additional research by (ISC)², there is a worldwide shortage of over 4 million, indicating the need for a massive recruitment effort to attact more people to the field that might not have considered it before. The Cybersecuity Perception Study reveals the two main obstacles in attracting these workers.

Firstly, 77% of respondents state that cybersecurity was never offered as a part of their education, making it difficult for most people to gain a comprehensive understanding of what the roles within the industry actually entail. Secondly, there is this perception that in order to pursue a career in cybersecurity, one needs advanced skills that would require extra time and resources.

The study gives guidance for hiring managers and organisations within the industry on how to make cybersecurity more open and inviting for those starting on their career path as well as those thinking of changing.

The study has also found that:

  • Job stability is now the most valued characteristic in a career (61% of respondents), followed by ones that offer a “flexible work environment” (57%) and only then, “earning potential” (56%), particularly during the time of the pandemic
  • In the absence of formal cybersecurity education, perceptions about the industry and its professionals are formed primarily through portrayals in TV shows and movies (37%) or by news coverage of security incidents (31%).
  • Generation Z (Zoomers) were the least likely demographic group to cast cybersecurity professionals in a positive light. Just 58% view cybersecurity professionals as smart and technically skilled, as opposed to 78% of Baby Boomers.

“What these results show us is that while it’s becoming even more highly-respected, the cybersecurity profession is still misunderstood by many, and that’s counterproductive to encouraging more people to pursue this rewarding career,” said Wesley Simpson, COO of (ISC)2. “The reality of the situation, and what we need to do a better job of publicising, is that a truly effective cybersecurity workforce requires a broad range of professionals who bring different skillsets to their teams. While technical skills are vital for many roles, we also need individuals with varied backgrounds in areas including communications, risk management, legal, regulatory compliance, process development and more, to bring a well-rounded perspective to cyber defence.”

To download your copy of the study click here.

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