Negative stereotypes about computer hackers are contributing to a skills shortage in the cyber security sector, according to industry experts.

High-profile cyber specialists today warned the industry’s hackneyed reputation as a breeding ground for reclusive computer geeks is misleading and is putting promising students off a career in the profession.

Speaking at the launch of Cyber 9/12, an annual cyber security competition for university students, experts said the industry is in need of workers with a wide range of skills, not just strong technical abilities.

Various skills are required

“At the moment a lot of people think a cyber security skill is whether you can hack, whether you can build and defend a network, or whether you can analyse code,” Pete Cooper, senior fellow at Washington-based think tank Atlantic Council, told City A.M.

“Those are all really important skills, but that’s only one element of what cyber security is.”

A variety of other skills, such as ethics and communication, are also vital in the industry, experts said.

“Verging on a crisis”

The warnings come amid growing concerns over a cyber security skills gap, as the industry struggles to keep pace with rapid technological change and rising cyber crime.

A report by industry research group Cybersecurity Ventures predicts there will be 3.5 million global job vacancies in the sector by 2021, while a recent parliamentary inquiry found the shortage is “verging on a crisis” in the UK.

The NCSC told City A.M. today that the key to tackling the shortage may lie in changing the industry’s image and looking to recruit workers with a broader range of skills.

“The thing about the skills shortage is if you’re only tapping into a fraction of the graduate community or the school community in the Stem world, you’re already self-limiting,” NCSC director for operations, Paul Chichester, said.

“Actually, what we find is some of the best people we have have a much more diverse set of skills,” he added.

Source: City AM