RAND Study: Shortage of Cybersecurity Experts? No Problem

July 3, 2014
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By Shannon Perry

In the last decade, data breaches and information technologies have forced cybersecurity into the forefront of American consciousness, despite the fact that it has historically been an afterthought for many corporations, organizations, and individuals. Demand for cybersecurity professionals has increased dramatically in recent years, with government organizations planning to hire thousands of cyberprofessionals in the near future.

With “Hackers Wanted: An Examination of the Cybersecurity Labor Market”, RAND Corporation set out to investigate the current gap between supply and demand for cybersecurity professionals, with special attention paid to the defense of the United States. The study incorporated cybersecurity literature, interviews with cybersecurity experts, and economic theory about labor markets to determine the severity and scope of the current shortage for cybersecurity professionals.

The study’s optimistic conclusion may come as a surprise; the report states, “The difficulty of finding qualified cybersecurity candidates is likely to solve itself, as the supply of cyberprofessionals currently in the educational pipeline increases, and the market reaches a stable, long-run equilibrium.” Economic theory suggests that a rise in the supply of cybersecurity professionals will follow today’s enormous demand, and the RAND study maintains that a rise in supply is indeed already occurring.

Nonetheless, the report does recommend that more women be incorporated into the cybersecurity workforce, that more money for cybersecurity educational programs be spent, and that fewer restrictions be placed on the government’s cybersecurity hiring process – in order to facilitate the rising supply of cyberprofessionals.

The report provides an optimistic interpretation of the future capabilities of the United States to meet its cybersecurity needs. Check it out to learn more about the background of the problem, the economic theory behind RAND’s optimism, and current initiatives addressing the cybersecurity disequilibrium.