Cybersecurity continues to make headlines, with a recent breach at Tesco Bank and the Chancellor unveiling a £2bn plan to “strike back” against cyber hackers. It is clear that public institutions, businesses, and our national infrastructure are being attacked on a daily basis by a mix of nation states, cyber spies, criminal gangs, hacktivists and “kids in bedrooms”, using in many cases, easily available and affordable tools. It’s taken a while, but finally this issue has landed at the top of the government’s priority list, which presents an excellent opportunity for individuals with the right skill sets.
Cybersecurity Is Very Much On The Boards Agenda
As a headhunter who specialises in helping organisations hire Chief Information Security Officers, I have seen the urgency that has overwhelmed my clients over the last couple of years as the potential implications of a security breach have hit home. The rise of the digital, data-driven economy – and the dawning appreciation of the consequences of the Internet of Things – means that Chief Executives have recognised this is the single thing that could destroy their business overnight. Although they might not understand how a breach might occur, they certainly know that it would be career-ending for them.
There Is A Talent Shortage In This Area
As the Chancellor alluded to in his announcement, there is a dearth of talent in this area. No longer are we talking about a lowly IT Security manager, who is a deeply techie individual, concerned only with employee security passes, firewalls and stopping people writing their passwords on post-it notes. The lonely geek who everyone called the Chief Business Prevention Officer and who no-one could understand a word he was saying. The modern CISO combines a high degree of technical understanding with sophisticated stakeholder management and leadership capabilities that enable him or her to operate effectively at Board level and to work in close collaboration with GCHQ, the police and government departments.
The CISO Role Has Significant Perks
The dearth of talent means that salaries are high, and increasingly individuals report to the CEO. The US and the UK are well ahead of the rest of Europe, India and the Middle and Far East. Today it’s a fantastic job: not only are you right at the heart of any organisation’s operational and strategic thinking, but you have a much broader geopolitical and economic perspective on what your organisation is doing. Added to that, because digital and data is now at the core of cybersecurity, CISOs are working with the most innovative and exciting thinkers around.
What’s Not To Like?
My advice to any technically capable and interested individuals, who can combine IQ and EQ (emotional intelligence) and who is keenly interested in the world and where it’s heading, is to build yourself a career in cybersecurity.