​All I want for Xmas is to hire some Cyber Security Professionals

As I talk to CISO and Heads of IT Security there is a clear consensus that there is a shortage of cyber security professionals. It is also the case that most of the CISO are resigned to building their own talent, by growing these from internal transfers.

In contrast, Commonwealth Bank have taken the lead with a partnership with UNSW to develop a centre for Cyber Security. CBA have had a industry reputation for having an insatiable appetite and for taking staff from many of their competitors. It is good to see them taking a positive and practical step to address what is an acute shortage.

Yes, all I want for xmas is to find some good security professionals.

Demand exceeds Supply

There is a global shortage of information security staff despite the increased focus due to the much public attacks. This shortage is believed to be around 1 million professionals, and this is echoed in Australia with IT salaries being inflated to keep up with demands.

At the same time job insecurity is at an all time high, so we would be also witnessing some conservatism to taking on a new challenge at this time. [1]

In a Greythorn 2015 salary survey security roles were the 4th highest most valuable skill set that hiring managers were looking for, this is after Cloud, BI and Project Management. (Interestingly the next most valuable is Big Data).

I would for one, expect that the ideal candidate is also able to well manage information, and their ability to do analytics would be highly desirable. However in a time of severe shortage, I can’t be that choosey.

Highly paid

We are seeing that getting my Cyber Security staff for xmas is going to be costly and just take a few examples. Senior Security Architects in Australia were paid $160k interestingly the same rate as Network Architects where they have some cross skill opportunities.

IT Security Manager paid up to $170k while Network Manager are only paid $150k. The danger is that we create an elitist group and as this becomes well known and these teams have to work together, the tension will naturally become greater.

Yes, Cyber Security staff are highly paid but the price to pay is worth the cost.

Grow my own by next Xmas?

I can hire a candidate but it is likely that they will be more expensive and create salary range relativity issues that are hard to address. So taking the harder road is about identifying existing staff and growing my own.

Realistically it can’t be done in a hurry - What’s it take to become a Cyber Security professional?

Well it not about doing a course (not yet anyway despite the CBA initiative). There are some good skills and attributes that will be useful:

  • Network management capability
  • Mobile app development skills
  • PCI knowledge
  • Analytics mindset
  • Curiosity
  • A degree of paranoia

It is fair to say that there is a clear lack of clarity of what good looks like. A good CISO can quickly tell, but it’s hard for HR or a Recruiter to really be able to screen these candidates easily. These lack of standards are not unusual and this situation is also the case in all other IT domains.

Ok, perhaps I will change my wish - All I want for Xmas is no breaches for 2016.



[1] Greythorn survey 2015 showed that candidates are more insecure than ever in their current role (34%)

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