CYBERSECURITY: Experts needed now!

Written by: Dr Erika Sanchez-Velazquez

In May 2017 the world saw one of the most vicious and global cyber attacks in modern history. The ransomware, called Wannacry, affected more than 200,000 organisations in 150 countries leaving vital services, such as UK’s National Health Service (NHS), unavailable and creating chaos and confusion amongst its users. This example was extremely notorious because of its sophistication and the way it spread to infect other computers but more importantly because it could have been easily avoided. Just a few months back Microsoft issued an alert of the vulnerability and recommended users to update and/or upgrade their systems to protect them. However, due to the inexperience and lack of resources of certain companies, such as the NHS and the ones affected by the Wannacry malware, they neglected the upgrade and ended up in this chaotic but preventable situation.

This is just one example of thousands of cyber security attacks that have affected the UK and the world and this is a problem that will continue to grow. The 2016 Dell Security Annual Threat Report concluded that malware attacks doubled to 8.19 billion, being Android the prime target. According to the McAfee Labs Threat Predictions Report, “attacks to automobile systems will increase rapidly due to the rapid increase in connected automobile hardware built without foundational security principles.”

Another important factor in cybersecurity is that the difference between supply and demand for expertise in the area is widening at an alarming rate. The 2017 Annual Cybersecurity Report by Cisco, indicates that one of the top constraints for companies to adopt advanced security products and solutions is talent. In 2014, Michael Brown, CEO at Symantec, the world’s largest security software vendor, declared that “the demand for the (cybersecurity) workforce is expected to rise to 6 million (globally) by 2019, with a projected shortfall of 1.5 million.”

The Job site Indeed conducted and published a global study indicating that the number of people looking for cyber security jobs in Britain reached just 31.6 per cent of the number of jobs posted. In Israel the number was slightly lower, at 28.4 per cent, but Germany, France, the US and Canada all showed a much smaller gap in the field, at 35 per cent, 38.6 per cent, 66.7 per cent and 68.1 per cent according to Indeed. Most importantly, every single company that relies in computer systems needs qualified staff with the skills and experience to mitigate against risks such as the Wannacry malware.

This is a time for industry, and basically any computer–based company, to prepare and educate their staff to protect against this and new forms of attacks. Companies need to invest more on updating their systems and making sure they have qualified IT specialists to keep systems updated and protected. A continuous effort on this will prevent and minimise the consequences of malware. This will be an investment that companies will never regret to do.