Study: Cybersecurity Skills Gap To Widen To A Massive 1.8 Million Worker Shortfall By 2022

The cybersecurity skills gap – widely recognized as one of the biggest challenges facing the IT security industry – is only going to continue to widen in the years to come, a recent report found.

The deficit of cybersecurity professionals is now expected to grow to more than 1.8 million workers globally by 2022, according to the Global Information Security Workforce Study, sponsored by the Center for Cyber Safety and Education and surveying over 19,000 cybersecurity professionals. That is a 20 percent increase over what the same study predicted two years ago.

The study also noted that the security industry seems to have a challenge recruiting millennial workers in particular, with only 12 percent of the workforce under 35.

[Related: Code Red: It's Time To Sound The Alarm On The Security Talent Shortage]

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Many security solution providers cite the security talent shortage as one of the greatest challenges facing their businesses today. Global Managing Director of Accenture Security Kelly Bissell said there simply isn't enough talent to go around in the security industry.

"The war for talent is on," Bissell said.

That war for talent is leading to real-world implications when it comes to security effectiveness, the study found. It said the skills deficit is already starting to impact businesses, with 46 percent of companies saying that it is already causing a "significant impact" on customers and leading to increased security breaches.

However, Bissell said the gap is so large that it is no longer enough for companies like Accenture to recruit personnel from the competition. He said Accenture has doubled down on its investment in training and security boot camps to develop the next generation of security practitioners in the marketplace.

The talent shortage is particular hard on the SMB side of the market, the study found. It said only 23 percent of security professionals work for companies with fewer than 500 employees, although SMB companies make up the majority of the business market.

Sam Heard, president of Lakeland, Fla.-based Data Integrity Services, said he has also seen the talent shortage accelerate.

"There are more bad guys than good guys, for sure," Heard said.

Heard said his business, which offers tech support and managed services to SMBs in Florida, has worked to close the gap by working with local colleges. He said Data Integrity Services provides the colleges with some curriculum or current security technology, so students can use different vendor's products to learn, train and even get certified on before graduation.

Bissell said Accenture would continue to funnel significant investments into developing security talent, as it is important to have "boots on the ground" when it comes to solving major cybersecurity issues for clients. He said companies like Accenture and other solution providers have a responsibility to help solve this issue for clients.

"I think we have a responsibility to help solve this problem and that’s what we're committed to," Bissell said.