For major companies such as Home Depot, Target and
JPMorgan Chase, the risks and realities of cyberattacks on computer systems and
customer accounts have hit all too close to home.
The latest incident, reported last week in a regulatory
filing by JPMorgan Chase, revealed that 76 million household accounts and
7million small-business accounts were hacked this summer.
While there is no evidence thus far of customers losing
money or account information getting stolen, hackers were able to burrow deep
into JPMorgan Chase’s computers, a breach that underscores the vulnerability of
the world’s financial systems.
It also illustrated how having the right people in place
to defend against such attacks has become a major cost, and recruitment
challenge, for businesses.
Read this commentary in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel here.
Confronted before the latest attacks with the threat of
online crime, JPMorgan had said it planned to spend $250 million on digital
However, it has been losing many of its security staff to
other banks over the last year, with others expected to leave soon.
The competition for such talent is intense, mainly for
supply-and-demand reasons: There aren’t enough trained hackers of the honest
variety to go around.
That problem is gaining attention in Wisconsin, which is
behind the curve in producing, attracting and retaining the kind of
cybersecurity talent needed by companies and institutions of all sizes.
For starters, private companies aren’t just competing
among themselves for talent.
The federal government is the largest single employer of
cybersecurity experts. The Department of Defense alone expects to increase its
cyber-fighting workforce to more than 6,000 employees by 2016, making it one of
the largest such forces in the world. Defense contractors employ large numbers
of developers and technical staff with cyber-expertise, as well.
In the private sector, businesses in retail, financial
services and health care — three Wisconsin strengths — also need cyber-expertise.
HP Enterprise Systems recently sponsored a survey of
human resources and IT security specialists nationally to “better
understand how effective organizations are in hiring and keeping enough skilled
and expert staff to meet their IT security mission.”
The study found:
■ Most IT security functions are understaffed but are
expected to grow in the next year. On average, more than a third of staff
positions were reported as unfilled in 2013.
■ On-the-job experience and professional certifications
make the biggest difference when hiring a security practitioner. Most job
recruiting takes place at conferences.
■ Salary is the most important part of a hiring package
in a highly paid field.
The global demand for people with cybersecurity skills is
forecast to grow at 13% per year for at least the next three years, according
to the Global Information Security Workforce.
A recent Rand report, “H4cker5 Wanted: An
Examination of the Cybersecurity Labor Market,” confirmed the shortage and
noted: “educating, recruiting, training and hiring these cybersecurity
professionals takes time.”
Filling the workforce void in Wisconsin begins with
producing more students with computing skills, especially in the emerging world
of data science.
Data scientists bring a combination of math,
computational and analytical skills to the job. Starting salaries for these
positions are substantial, sometimes in the six-figure category. In 2011,
McKinsey & Co. estimated there will be roughly 150,000 unfilled data
analytics expert positions by 2018.
Wisconsin is one of only seven states lacking a training
program used by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security
Known as the National Centers of Academic Excellence in
Information Assurance and Cyber Defense, there are about 100 such outlets
nationwide. The program is designed to encourage the teaching of cybersecurity
and building a pipeline of professionals, not only for the government but for
So, what’s being done?
The talent shortage is certain to be a topic of
conversation at this week’s Wisconsin Cyber Security Summit at Marquette
University. And organizations like the Wisconsin Security Research Consortium
are also making the case that more must be done to close the talent gap.
Cyberattacks are not only threatening national security,
they are costing businesses and the economy hundreds of billions of dollars per
Workforce development in Wisconsin should mean more than
preparing people for the skilled trades. It should include building a workforce
for the digital age.