Five Ways Automation Can Help Fix The Cybersecurity Skills Shortage

The cybersecurity skills shortage is a vast issue around the world. A report published in 2019 by (ISC)2 found that the sector must hire 4.07 million professionals to make up for the current deficit. That improvement would cause a 145% employment gain in the world's cybersecurity workforce. The number of unfilled positions may seem like an insurmountable obstacle - and it will be if companies don't make changes.

Many businesses can promote meaningful progress by emphasizing automation. Automation and skills shortage issues often come up together in cybersecurity-related conversations, and for a good reason.

Here are five ways that automated technologies can ease cybersecurity burdens:

1. Applying the Appropriate Access Privileges
Having the correct access privileges is often essential for employees to do their jobs well. Far too many companies take the approach of leaving files open for all workers. That method could introduce preventable cybersecurity risks, especially if the access remains available once people change positions or leave the company.
A 2019 report from Varonis found that 53% of companies had more than 1,000 sensitive files open to every worker. Additionally, 22% of all folders within the researched companies were accessible to every employee.
Engaging in access control is often a manual and lengthy process. The research from Varonis revealed that it could take up to eight hours per folder for a person to find an instance of global access, remove it and give the right person privileges. Companies facing a skills shortage in cybersecurity personnel may overlook access control entirely or not oversee it as closely as they should. Automation can help by granting access privileges based on set parameters. 

2. Identifying Critical Threats
When people think about automation and skills shortage risks, many wonder if artificial intelligence (AI) could close the gap. When responding to a study from Capgemini, 69% of organizations believed AI would be necessary for responding to cyberattacks. Three out of four executives using the technology reported that it allows faster action concerning cyberthreats, and three out of five said AI boosted accuracy and efficiency. 
AI learns what constitutes normal network traffic, then alerts authorized users to unusual characteristics. It could prove especially valuable to a small cybersecurity team or one that frequently feels overwhelmed. 

3. Giving Employees More Time to Focus on Security Concerns
At some companies, cybersecurity professionals may handle duties beyond keeping networks safe from intruders. Automation software can assist in those instances, too. If a tool streamlines time-consuming tasks and eliminates manual steps, these workers can free up their schedules. 

Once that happens, cybersecurity experts have more time to focus on their primary roles. Another perk of automated software is that it reduces human errors. If a person makes a mistake with a non-cyber-related task, fixing it may also cut into the time ordinarily devoted to information technology (IT) safeguards. 

4. Preventing Firewall Configuration Errors
Companies challenged by the cybersecurity skills shortage should also investigate using automation for firewall configuration. Research from Firemon emphasized how firewall misconfiguration can provide remote access to private content to anyone with an internet connection. The study also showed that 45% of respondents handle anywhere from 10-99 change requests every week.

Another trend identified by Firemon is that many such alterations occur during the late-night hours. Professionals are overworked due to the skills shortage, among other things. When people participate in detail-oriented tasks at odd hours, the likelihood of errors may go up, especially if those individuals feel tired. Automation does not replace humans, but it can complement their skills and reduce mistakes. 

5. Screening for Malware
Malware is a pervasive problem, and it often has a global reach. News broke in 2019 about a type of malware affecting Wi-Fi routers used by households and small businesses. Coverage indicated that it affected 32,000 routers worldwide, and that was just a single variety. Malware can also come through a person's email. If the recipient opens an attachment that seems like a legitimate download, that action could lock down a computer or whole network with ransomware. 

Automation can address the ransomware risk by examining emails for threats before they land in someone's inbox. Automated malware protection software can also evaluate suspicious files in an isolated environment, then give practitioners detailed reports within minutes that tell them whether the content poses a genuine threat.

Automated Assistance Can Ease the Cybersecurity Skills Shortage

These five examples show that automation can reduce the stresses caused by the skills shortage in the cyber sector. Professionals doing this work have challenging jobs in any case, but automated tools can make it easier to excel in this career. Since automation can increase consistency while pinpointing mistakes and intrusions, it enhances a company's resilience in an online landscape populated by a growing number of risks. 

Devin Partida is a technology writer and the Editor-in-Chief of the digital magazine, ReHack.com. To read more from Devin, please check out the site. 

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