Limited Resources in IT & Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a growing concern for organizations of all sizes, but the industry is currently facing a significant shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals. This shortage is causing many companies to struggle to fill cybersecurity positions and is leaving them at greater risk of cyberattacks.

According to a 2021 ESG report, 57% of organizations have been impacted by the global cybersecurity skills crisis. 76% say it’s difficult to recruit and hire security professionals. The biggest effects of this shortage are increasing workloads, positions open for weeks or months, and high cybersecurity staff burnout and attrition.

What can organizations do to resolve the cybersecurity skills shortage?

There are several possible solutions, but most of them take time. Cybersecurity education, career development tracks, training programs, employer-sponsored academies, and internships are great ways to build a talent pipeline and develop skill sets to meet organizational needs in years to come.

However, sometimes the need to fill a gap in capability is more immediate. In such cases, companies may need to consider alternative solutions to bridge the cybersecurity skills gap.

One solution is to use staff augmentation services.

Staff augmentation involves trained external consultants acting as an extension of an organization’s security team in a residency. Engagements can be anywhere from a few weeks to a few years, and roles can range from analysts and engineers to architects, compliance specialists, and virtual CISOs.

According to a NewtonX study, 56% of organizations are now subcontracting up to a quarter of their cybersecurity staff. 69% of companies rely on third-party expertise to assist in mitigating the risk of ransomware, up from 58% in 2017, per a study by Ponemon and CBI, A Converge Company.

The reasons companies seek staff augmentation services vary. A hiring freeze may prevent an increase in headcount, even as the need for extra help persists. A staff member’s shoes may need to be filled during a temporary leave of absence. A project may require support for a year or two, but not long enough to justify hiring a permanent employee. A company may need staffing services while seeking a replacement for an outgoing staff member.

What about new roles?

Another motivation for companies to seek temporary staff augmentation is the opportunity to explore the value and benefit of new roles. Hiring a full-time employee is a time- and resource-intensive endeavor involving recruiting, interviewing, background checks, and other HR activities, followed by onboarding and training. In addition, new employees take time to ramp up: According to Human Panel, it takes five to eight months for a new hire to reach full productivity. On top of everything, there’s the risk of the employee not working out. A Bamboo HR survey found that 31% of people have left a job within the first six months.

These are just some of the reasons companies often want to try out the idea of a new role before formally opening one, and strategic staffing services allow that flexibility. Recently, an organization came to us unsure if it really needed a firewall engineer, so we placed an engineer there for a six-month engagement. Once the customer realized the value of the role, it opened headcount for an internal position, and we worked together in the candidate search.

Choosing the right staff augmentation provider is crucial to ensuring a successful engagement. One factor to consider is the investment the provider puts into its people. Traditional staffing agencies act merely as a broker between the staff resource and the client organization and rarely invest in training or career development of their staff resources.

In conclusion, the cybersecurity skills shortage is a significant challenge for organizations of all sizes and industries. While there are many long-term solutions to address this problem, such as education, training, and career development programs, sometimes organizations need immediate help to fill the gap in capability.

How to find the best staff augmentation solution

Third-party cybersecurity staff augmentation and consulting services can provide a flexible and effective solution to address these immediate needs. By engaging external consultants to act as an extension of an organization’s security team in a residency, companies can gain the necessary expertise and support without the lengthy process of hiring and onboarding new employees. This approach also allows organizations to explore new roles and test the value of new positions before formally opening them.

When seeking staff augmentation services, it is crucial to choose a cybersecurity-focused provider that invests in the training and development of their staff resources. By partnering with a provider that has a culture of security and fosters knowledge-sharing among its team, organizations can benefit from the collective expertise of a pool of cybersecurity professionals.

While staff augmentation services are not a panacea for the cybersecurity skills shortage, they can be a valuable tool in the fight against cyber threats. By taking advantage of this flexible and effective approach, organizations can quickly and effectively build a stronger cybersecurity posture and better protect themselves against the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats.