With the rapid development of technology and the increased connectivity of all things, aka, the Internet of things, one area that is falling drastically behind is cybersecurity. In fact, there is shortage of nearly one million skilled security professionals worldwide, according to Cisco’s 2014 Annual Security Report.
The problem is two fold: cyberattacks have gotten more sophisticated and are outpacing the ability for current security professionals to combat threats, according to the report. Second, most companies lack the number of security professionals and proper systems to detect threats and stop attacks once they’ve happened.
The shortfall is so large that many private companies, like defense contractor Raytheon, are starting their own programs to recruit and train people early for professions in cyber security. Raytheon has started a number of programs including an initiative to increase middle and elementary school students’ interest in math and science through interactive and fun STEM activities called MathMovesU. The company is also sponsoring the Raytheon National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, the nation’s largest cybersecurity competition for college students, with over 180 colleges taking part.
Jeff Jacoby, director of program engineering for Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services believes that the problem isn’t necessarily lack of awareness, but lack of resources.
“I think the primary limitation is resources, either money to put toward the problem or having the talent available,” Jacoby said. ” I believe there are a lot of places that the threat is real and not everyone knows how to go about how to address that problem.”
The problem with bridging this gap is that technology is moving faster than the positions can be filled. It gets even more complex and urgent as so-called smart appliances that are capable of connecting to the Internet the same way computers and smartphones do become vulnerable to attack.
“With the rapid expansion of the Internet of things concepts that everything is becoming connected, it means that there are more and more opportunities for both good and bad for how that technology may be used,” Jocoby said. “There are less people that are available that understand how that technology might be exploited by an adversary and is potentially vulnerable to a cyber attack.”
Unfortunately, these everyday connected items are already under attack. In January, security firm Proofpoint uncovered one of the first Internet of things cyber attacks. Included in the attack were smart TVs, wireless speaker systems, Internet-connected set top boxes and at least one refrigerator.
Cyber attacks like these are likely just a hint of things to come. As consumers begin to buy more Internet-connected appliances, they will likely worry about the security of those devices the way they already do with their smartphones and laptops.
The good news is that the job market in cybersecurity is hot. Defense Intelligence Agency Director General Michael Flynn has said for every person in military cybersecurity today, we need 28 more. With programs like Raytheon’s National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition and the Pentagon’s recent announcement that it is planning to triple its cybersecurity personal over the next several years, the market is at least moving in the right direction.