UK critical national infrastructure at risk from critical cyber skills exodus

Published: Wednesday, 29 June 2022 08:00

UK critical national infrastructure (CNI) organizations must take steps to ensure cyber leaders have the right budget, skills, and tech stack to build out and implement an effective cyber security strategy or risk an exodus of skilled cyber security professionals, according to new research from UK cyber security services firm, Bridewell.

The research, which surveyed UK cyber security decision-makers in the communications, utilities, finance, government and transport and aviation sectors, reveals that 95 percent are experiencing factors that would make them likely to leave their role in the next 12 months. Over 4 in 10 (42 percent) feel a breach is inevitable and do not want to tarnish their career, while 40 percent say they are experiencing stress and burnout which is impacting their personal life.

The prospect of people leaving jobs is particularly problematic for CNI organizations at a time when the threat of attacks remains high. Over two thirds of UK CNI cyber leaders say that the volume of threats and successful attacks has increased over the past year and 69 percent say it is harder to detect and respond to threats.

Fears of staff leaving are also compounded by the ongoing skills shortage in the sector with 68 percent saying it has become harder to recruit the right resources to secure and monitor systems over the past year. Four in ten say they currently don’t have the skills to monitor security threats in the cloud, 31 percent don’t have the right skills needed to run a modern security operations centre (31 percent) and 28 percent believe the don’t have the right skills to secure a remote environment.

Martin Riley, Director of Managed Security Services at Bridewell, comments: “Talent is now the biggest constraint in cyber security and organizations simply cannot afford to lose staff. Security leaders need the right authority, budget, and technology stack to build out and implement an effective threat-led cyber security strategy and should lean on external consultants where necessary to plug any gaps quickly and help lighten the load on the team. Companies that can demonstrate they are investing in staff wellbeing, support and development can inspire a real change of heart in those that may be looking to leave.”

A range of factors are contributing to the increased pressure and burnout felt by IT teams, including the growing number of cyber attacks, increased complexity of cyber security compliance, greater interconnectivity of systems, and the constant need to understand new technologies and deliver expanding cyber assurance activities.

Reasons for leaving vary based on level of seniority with those at C-Level more likely to fear tarnishing their career with a cyber attack, while those at director level report higher levels of stress and burnout. Meanwhile, heads of department are more likely to jump ship due to unrealistic expectations, whereas managers are more driven by pay.

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