Half Of Cybersecurity Pros Solicited Weekly About A New Job

‘Sellers’ market’ for IT security professionals, but more than two-thirds lack a clear career path in the field.

One or more times per week, nearly half of cybersecurity professionals receive an email or a call from a recruiter or other party about a job opening, and a quarter of chief information security officers get five or more such solicitations per week.

It’s a “seller’s market” for security professionals given the much-maligned and well-known skills gap in the security industry that according to some estimates has left around 1 million job openings worldwide. A new research report by Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) and the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) found not only that security pros are getting bombarded by recruiters, but only 41% are “very satisfied” with their current jobs, 44% “somewhat satisfied,” and 15% not satisfied.

The global survey of 437 security professionals also revealed that security pros have serious concerns about their careers and most aren’t getting sufficient training to keep pace with emerging skills and threats. Some 56% say their organization doesn’t offer them the proper training for their jobs — and 65% say they don’t have a solid career plan or path, according to “The State of Cyber Security Professional Careers: Part 1” report.

That’s a recipe for disaster for enterprises, which already are struggling to fill job vacancies.

“The positive thing is that it’s a seller’s market. If I want to go elsewhere or make more money or go to another industry, I can do that,” Jon Oltsik, senior principal analyst with ESG, in a press briefing today on the report. The downside for organizations, of course, is loss of skilled staff, attrition, and a higher security risk, he said.

“People are job-shopping all the time or being asked to all the time. This is a root issue we’re not talking about,” he said. “People are being poached left and right. If an organization suffers massive attrition, there’s no consistency in policies, controls, or your general risk profile.”

Oltsik says the training gap for existing security pros is a big red flag. One-fourth say their organization should be offering “significantly more” training for them. “We’re understaffed, severely under skilled, and not investing resources for keeping people up to speed. That’s an existential risk to all of us,” Oltsik said.

Candy Alexander, CISO of ISSA and chair of its cyber security career lifecycle program, says training is one of the first things that gets cut from the budget. “It always comes down to budget, and training is the first to be cut, or cutting back on resources,” she said. “We’re always firefighting, in reactive mode and there’s no opportunity to be proactive” with training or other measures, she said.

When it comes to the oft-debated topic of cybersecurity certifications, the report shows that one cert matters the most: the CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional). Some 56% of security pros hold a CISSP, and most say it was “valuable” both for getting hired (61%) and for on-the-job know-how (55%).

The next-closest cert held by security pros is the CompTIA Security+ (19%), CISM (Certified Information Security Manager), with 17%; and CISA (Certified Information Security Auditor), with 16%. CISM and CISA came closest to the CISSP in value for hiring and knowledge for the job, but each by only around 10% of respondents.

“No cert achieved a rating over 10%” besides the CISSP, Oltsik said. “That to me is extremely telling for a couple of reasons: it says certs are window-dressing, but having a lot of certs on your resume may give you personal gratification, but it’s not training you to be a better cybersecurity pro. It also means to me that [you] go and get certified for a specific baseline of knowledge. But that’s not how you become a great cybersecurity professional … certifications have a specific role” and security requires “hands-on” experience, he said.

Some certifications are helpful for specific uses, such as Certified Ethical Hacker, or Certified Incident Responder, he said.

Job satisfaction factors for cybersecurity pros include financial compensation (32%), a corporate culture that values cybersecurity (24%), business’s commitment to security (23%), and working alongside a skilled security team (22%).

Even so, most of the security pros surveyed are satisfied with their choice of field: 79% strongly agree or agree that they’re happy being a security professional.  And nearly 80% of them began their security careers on the IT side of the house, the report says.

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Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise … View Full Bio

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