Cybersecurity skills “chasm” widening as Trend Micro joins rush to stake its claim

More Australian cybersecurity job applicants are unqualified than ever before, ISACA figures show

The opening of Trend Micro’s new ANZ headquarters is the latest salvo in an all-out industry effort to lock down critical cybersecurity skills in a burgeoning cybersecurity industry whose growth may be limited not by demand, but by the industry’s capacity to serve it.

The security bellwether has ambitious growth plans on the back of sales revenue that has doubled in the past two years on the back of the growth of cloud-based security solutions, according to vice president and APAC managing director Dhanya Thakkar. Local headcount has grown by 20 percent in that time to more than 80 people, with plans for the new North Sydney premises to reach 100 staff by the end of this year.

That kind of growth reflects a “pivotal” year for customers that are doubling down on their security investments to accommodate their efforts around digital transformation, Thakkar said in a statement. “We are seeing significant momentum toward cloud-based and cloud-enabled solutions, and are confident we can cement our market leadership position in server security.... Our growth in this area is a direct result of expanding our relationships with cloud providers to extend customers’ security capabilities.”

New Bitglass research suggests that cloud adoption is continuing to explode, with the company’s 2016 Cloud Adoption Report suggesting that surging adoption of the cloud-based Microsoft Office 365 and Slack collaboration platform is driving cloud usage to new heights.

Slack is being used in around one-third of enterprises worldwide, according to the Bitglass study, while Office 365 is deployed in some 34.8 percent. This was well ahead of the 25 percent that are using Google’s G Suite. Cloud adoption has also proven to be a significant driver for single sign-on (SSO) solutions, which are being used by 1 in 10 organisations – including 26 percent of Office 365 users; this was up from 22 percent a year ago.

This kind of enthusiastic adoption requires new skill sets across enterprise adopters, and investments like Trend Micro’s reflect a growing effort to secure these hard-to-find skills. But with other recent cybersecurity investments rapidly draining the country’s talent pool – Optus, for example, this month launched a $10m Advanced Security Operations Centre (ASOC) in Sydney that will play a key role in parent company SingTel’s expanding regional footprint – the cybersecurity skills gap “is quickly turning into a chasm,” Christos Dimitriadis, chair of the board of directors with industry group ISACA, said in a statement on the launch of recent research suggesting Australia’s cybersecurity jobs market has become more competitive than ever.

Noting that Australia was now ranked first in the world in terms of data breaches – with 76 breaches observed across the APAC region in the first half of 2016 – ISACA’s 2016 Cybersecurity Jobs Index noted a massive increase in demand for cybersecurity-skilled professionals.

Some 27 percent of surveyed companies said it was taking up to 6 months to fill a cybersecurity position – up 3 percent from 2014 – and 59 percent said that fewer than half of candidates for such jobs were considered “qualified upon hire” – up from 50 percent a year ago. By 2020, ISACA warned, some 17 percent of cybersecurity positions advertised by Australian businesses will go unfilled.

“The number and cost of a breach are on the rise, but so too are the number of cybersecurity job openings and length of time it takes to fill an opening,” said Dimitriadis. “It’s a perfect storm that leaves organisations vulnerable—so a greater focus on cybersecurity upskilling is critical.”