Tag-teaming for tech talent

In today’s increasingly digitised world, IT professionals play a crucial part in protecting sensitive data across all sectors. With more companies moving to the cloud to store their confidential information, IT teams are now the primary line of defence. They work hard to scale their companies’ digital capabilities and minimise cyberthreats and to ensure smooth operation for the entire organisation.

A recent report by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower revealed that the country is facing a shortage of tech talent. As more companies look to fortify their defence systems against the rise of sophisticated malware attacks and others need tech expertise to scale up their digital capabilities, organisations are struggling to adequately staff their cybersecurity teams.

Stamina drain

IT teams are integral in ensuring that network systems remain secure and protected, preventing malicious infiltration and data breaches. External cyberthreats are already causing strain on these specialists, but there is added risk from internal cyberthreats as well.

In 2022, remote working became widely accepted as the norm, increasing the reliance on technology across industries and adding pressure on IT teams to keep their company’s networks safe. This is because there is a rise in attack surfaces due to the entire workforce accessing the company’s system via unsecured home networks, which gives cyberthreat actors an easy way in. Furthermore, some organisations do not impose strict cyber hygiene practices on their employees, making them vulnerable to online scams. For instance, seemingly harmless links disguised in a well-crafted email can lead to the entire company network system being compromised with just one click.

Aside from immediate rectification efforts by IT teams, the repercussions of lapses in cybersecurity defences include reputational damage, system downtime, and financial losses for the entire organisation. Unfortunately, most of the burden of protecting the organisation falls on IT teams.

Undue stress and burnout are common reasons why IT professionals leave their jobs, even with attractive remuneration and benefits. Therefore, it is essential for companies to address on-the-job challenges and implement better talent retention plans.

Re-strategising the game plan

Companies need to look beyond short-term hiring solutions and rethink their talent strategy. A good strategy includes concrete opportunities for career progression, frequent upskilling and training support, and an employee support network. It also requires a robust company-wide employee education and governance framework.

In Singapore, efforts are underway to build the talent pool for tech jobs by partnering with training agencies to curate reskilling programmes for employees. These programmes aim to equip employees in high-demand areas such as software engineering, cloud and mobility, and AI and analytics.

Upskilling is also a potential solution. Workers who are already in technical roles should have more ways to acquire cybersecurity-related skills in their current positions, whether through government agencies or private organisations’ training platforms. With these platforms available, the workforce can maintain its competitive edge and be equipped with future-ready skills needed in an increasingly technology-driven era.

However, implementing these changes can take time, especially in larger companies. For small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), building and curating IT teams may not be at the top of their priority list, with more funds being channelled to other aspects of the business to achieve immediate profits. At the beginning stages, cybersecurity may be deprioritised while SMEs focus on generating revenue.

Unfortunately, cyberthreat actors will not wait around for these organisations to fortify their defences. Rather, they see it as an opportune moment to attack and reap the rewards with minimal effort.

So how can organisations, big or small, find a buffer of sorts to help them ease their way during this tech talent crunch?

Blocking an open goal

Digitalisation can provide a way for organisations to address burnout, increase productivity, and strengthen their network defences. To find a suitable solution for their IT teams, organisations should consider the following selection criteria.

Firstly, organisations should look for technology that can automate simple, time-consuming processes and tasks. Automation technology can reduce manual labour, free up valuable time and energy, and prevent human error in risk assessments.

Secondly, the technology implemented should be context-aware. By providing additional information, IT professionals can better understand the threats they face and make accurate and quicker decisions. Not all cyber threats have the same level of risk, so using contextualised technology can help the team detect which threats are real and could cause immediate damage.

Thirdly, organisations should determine whether they are resolving issues at a symptomatic level or addressing the foundation or genesis of the problem. Resolving issues earlier in the kill chain or closer to the control layer can increase the efficiency of efforts and prevent teams from chasing spot fires.

Finally, technology that helps with workflow prioritisation should be incorporated. This allows the most dangerous and time-consuming threats to be identified and remediated first, rather than addressing threats randomly based on when they are discovered.

Implementing these technologies in a network system not only provides a temporary fix but also equips teams with the necessary resources to focus on critical threats first. These technologies are an essential part of a company’s network security, creating a resilient defence system, improving working conditions, and strengthening the capabilities of IT teams.