Mitigating cybersecurity threats amid IT talent shortage

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In the current era driven by automation and connectivity, retaining top IT talent is becoming increasingly important for enterprises to deliver world-class customer experiences in order to stand out and stay ahead in the race. However, as companies pursue digitization to drive transformation and innovation, they simultaneously become vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Last year, Hong Kong had a total of 9,458 security incidents recorded, and a recent study revealed that these attacks could potentially cause the city US$ 32 billion (HK$ 249.6 billion) annually for the next few years.

With today’s threat climate, organizations face cybersecurity challenges on a daily basis and many of these companies express the lack of security professionals within their organizations as a major area of concern. In a recent report by 451 Research, 89% of security professionals within organizations said it is difficult to recruit new information security professionals, and 52% believed that their security staffing level is inadequate to handle the challenges faced by their organizations.

When it comes to Hong Kong, 77% of CIOs are finding it challenging to find IT professionals as compared to five years ago, with cybersecurity being one of the top functional areas where they struggle to find qualified staff. Although building an in-house security operations center (SOC) has been explored as an alternative way to develop security monitoring capabilities, it is often a costly and time-consuming effort given it requires huge investment on infrastructure.

According to a recent study, while organizations spend US$ 2.86 million annually on their in-house SOC, only 51% are satisfied with their SOC’s effectiveness in detecting attacks. In addition, the complexities that come with the use of multiple cloud services providers have further intensified security concerns, particularly around maintaining in-depth visibility into cloud assets and avoiding misconfigurations which could potentially lead to data breaches.

In F5’s 2020 State of Application Services Report, it stated that while 87% of enterprises have adopted a multi-cloud approach, many of them are struggling with security issues, including compliance across different cloud platforms and vulnerability fixing. In 2019, at least 1TB data of internal business documents and employee information of several global brands was leaked due to a misconfiguration on cloud platforms, and this is just one of the countless examples of how multi-cloud environments increase security challenges.

Thankfully, managed services can take some of this burden off the shoulders of security professionals. Many businesses experience loss of productivity with their existing information technology systems – this is where managed services can help maximize the efficiency of existing IT talent. While the average time taken between vulnerability releases is 9-12 hours, managed security services have 24 x 7 x 365 global SOC that can respond to new threats instantly, protecting from the vulnerability and allowing the organization to complete patching.

Another key benefit of managed services is the ability to gain full visibility and keeping applications updated and in compliance when faced by application sprawl. We know that on average, organizations have over 200 applications. With managed services, companies can free up resources, manpower and infrastructure from an array of responsibilities to remain focused on core business activities.

Digital transformation is reshaping how enterprises conduct their businesses today and the application security challenges are increasingly becoming sophisticated. As enterprises continue their search for strong IT professionals to help cope with security challenges and accelerate their growth, managed services provide a great solution to their current struggles. Managed services offer companies flexibility and an effective IT operation with a predictable cost, mitigating cybersecurity threats amid a global shortage of IT talent.

Written by Gail Coury, VP & GM, Silverline at F5 Networks

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