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April 20, 2021
By: Chris Clymer

Addressing the Cybersecurity Workforce Shortage

The cybersecurity workforce shortage makes it difficult for companies to hire and train a robust IT security team. Learn more about addressing these challenges.


The current cybersecurity workforce shortage makes it difficult for companies to hire and train a robust team to protect against cyber attacks. A 2019 CSIC (Center for Strategic and International Studies) survey found that 82 percent of employers report a shortage of cybersecurity skills, and 71 percent believe this talent gap causes direct and measurable damage to their organizations. Since then, the problem has only grown. .

This issue is exacerbated by the fact that malicious cyber attacks skyrocketed at the start of the ongoing pandemic. Cybercriminals have been upping the amount and severity of their attacks to capitalize on many organizations going remote and using more online resources for communication and productivity. In light of this development, having a strong team of cybersecurity professionals has never been more important. For our tips on how to handle four cyber attack vectors that have risen from hackers taking advantage of the increased virtual practices of companies, check out our previous blog about COVID-19 cybersecurity concerns.

A CISO, or Chief Information Security Officer, is the most essential member of a cybersecurity team — but also the hardest to hire. While consulting services may seem like a good solution, IT consultants are often servicing a vast multitude of clients at the same time, leaving resources strained when it comes to meeting your specific needs. Because of this, consulting firms don’t have the time to properly learn your business and stay completely up to date on new problems as they arise. They also have limited face-time and high turnover, and often give your work to junior team members, making consulting a less-than-ideal IT security solution.

However, the cybersecurity workforce shortage makes it challenging to hire top talent in-house, not to mention how the competition for top CISOs poses obstacles for long-term retention. For this reason, adding a dedicated outsourced CISO as a member of your security team may be the most cost-effective and efficient way to address your company’s needs in spite of the cybersecurity workforce shortage.

Here are the challenges that many organizations currently face  with finding, training, and keeping the right CISO, as well as more information about CISO for hire services that can help your company overcome these obstacles.

Finding the Right CISO

Any hiring process can be expensive and time-consuming for your team, but the search for the right CISO can be even more difficult due to the high level of competition for top IT talent. With more sophisticated cyber weapons appearing consistently, the demand for exceptional CISOs to recognize and protect IT vulnerabilities far outweighs supply  — inflating the cost of hiring one full-time.

The role of a CISO still lacks consistent definition across organizations, as it differs structurally from company to company. Due to these discrepancies, it can be difficult for hiring executives to grasp the full scope of what’s needed in a quality CISO, taking into account their data, current systems, and the threats they face. The ever-changing nature of the IT landscape and unforeseen future threats bring additional uncertainty to the CISO hiring process.

What responsibilities will a CISO have in your organization? Who will they work with and report to? What are your organization’s unique IT needs? What specialized experience are you looking for a CISO to have? What is your company’s current culture — both in leadership and from the employees — surrounding cybersecurity, and in which ways should it be improved? Not having answers to all of these questions complicates CISO hiring even further.

Training Your CISO

Due to the hiring difficulties described above, you may not be able to hire an experienced professional with the right technical skills to lead your cybersecurity team and strategy, making training challenging. Even if you are able to find the right talent for your team, it can be hard for you to properly express your business knowledge to the new hire if they have no experience in your industry, and vice versa if you don’t have a comprehensive understanding of your data or current cyber threats.

If neither party understands what one needs from the other and how to best work together to solve security challenges, then the costs of hiring and training a new CISO may not be worth the outcome. And if you find yourself frequently cycling through talent due to these challenges, those costs will become recurring, draining more resources.

Since the most-effective placement of the CISO in an organization’s structure is still unclear, you risk a communication error that can lead to a breach if you’re not using the best IT security personnel structure for your organization and keeping communication channels open to be able to address any concerns immediately. Not fully understanding the proper role, responsibilities, and structural placement of the CISO for your organization places even more obstacles in the way of training and may leave you vulnerable to potential threats along the way.

CISO Retention

As if the numerous challenges facing company leadership while hiring and training a CISO weren’t enough, if you do happen to successfully find the right CISO and get them up to speed within your team, the competition for high-quality IT professionals often leads to poaching. Between other companies capturing your talent and the need to part ways with CISOs that aren’t the right fit for your needs, many businesses find themselves faced with a high turnover rate in this key position. This makes the hiring and training process repetitive and tedious — and also leaves your organization exposed to cyber attacks in the meantime.

Depending on the organization, each CISO faces different challenges in their job. However, a huge detractor from a CISO’s focus on optimizing systems against potential cyber attacks often comes in the form of constantly needing to fight for attention and funding from a company leadership team that doesn’t fully understand their IT efforts and priorities. This adds more stress to an already stressful position, once again leading to turnover.

Inversion6 Can Help You Navigate the Cybersecurity Workforce Shortage

Now that you understand the full range of problems faced by leadership when trying to bring in the right CISO, how can your organization find a solution to these issues that works for you and keeps you consistently protected from cyber attacks? One approach that Inversion6 has found to be an advantageous solution for addressing these obstacles is outsourcing your CISO staffing.

A middle-ground that combines the advantages of in-house CISO hiring and IT security consulting services while avoiding the problems posed by both, our CISO for hire services give you access to a security veteran that becomes a part of your team. Instead of simply pointing out gaps in your IT security like a consultant, our CISOs are responsible for attending on-site meetings with your team, creating and implementing actionable plans to improve your cybersecurity, and being immediately available in times of crisis, and for less expense and trouble than trying to hire and retain a CISO in-house. We also offer interim CISO services that help you avoid gaps in your cybersecurity coverage to give you leeway when hiring and training a new CISO, keeping you covered how and when you need it.

Contact Inversion6 to learn more about how our CISO for hire and other IT security solutions can help you mitigate the ongoing cybersecurity workforce shortage.

Post Written By: Chris Clymer
Chris Clymer has more than 20 years of experience in various roles in IT and IT security, including assessor, developer, analyst engineer, manager and chief security officer. Chris has worked in numerous industries with unique challenges and specializes in security management, risk management, information technology and more. He has been with Inversion6 since December of 2015 as Director and a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).

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