More Women Cyber Security Professionals Needed

The pandemic has provided cyber criminals with a goldmine of opportunities from businesses pivoting online to millions of people having no choice but to work on the web at home and so work and life has become increasingly digital. This increase in online activities has given cyber criminals opportunities to exploit and steal often using phishing and other cyber attacks.

Currently, there are less than 20% female technology employee compared with 49%  of females across the whole UK economy. To deal with this increase in attacks and to improve our cyber security, more female cyber security professionals are needed who can provide businesses with the right skills to improve cyber security and help to keep organisations safer online.

Right now, the demand for cyber professionals hugely outweighs the supply. According to a UK  from the Government  Report Cyber security skills in the UK labour market 2020 on cyber skills, two-thirds of cyber firms have faced problems with technical cyber security skills gaps. This is either among existing staff or among job applicants, with a quarter saying that such skills gaps have prevented them from achieving business goals. “Approximately 653,000 businesses (48%) have a basic skills gap. That is, the people in charge of cyber security in those businesses lack the confidence to carry out the kinds of basic tasks laid out in the government-endorsed Cyber Essentials scheme, and are not getting support from external cyber security providers... The most common of these skills gaps are in setting up configured firewalls, storing or transferring personal data, and detecting and removing malware,” says the Report.

To create, inspire and educate the next generation of cyber leaders, the UK needs to highlight the benefits of embarking on a cyber security course. There needs to be a concerted effort to spotlight the wide range of potential career options that will be available to them, from security architects to information security analysts to data scientists.

Most people assume that a background in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects is required to undertake a cyber security degree, but even if you studied history or English, you could still have a potential career in cyber security. Promoting a wider range of students to study cyber security  at university level will be key to achieving this.

What’s positive is that there is an appetite for change. For example, the Cyber First program run by GCHQ’ National Cyber Security Centre saw a 60% increase in girls for their summer course in 2020 compared with 2019. The Women in Technology Excellence Awards are open for nominations of outstanding women from around the world across categories including Digital Leader, Role Model and Transformation Leader of The Year.

GovUK:        NCSC:        Guardian:       Computing:         Infosecurity Magazine

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