Singapore’s battle against cyber-criminals is about to intensify with technology leaders predicting an increase in cyber-attacks due to the lack of skilled IT security personnel.
According to a recently published report, Cyber-security – Defending your future, commissioned by specialist recruiter Robert Half, cyber-attacks in Singapore are increasing with 72 per cent of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) detecting more cyber-attacks now than 12 months ago.
According to the report, 85 per cent of Singaporean CIOs expect their companies will be attacked more often because they lack skilled IT security talent – well above the 78 per cent average of the eight countries surveyed.
The only two countries with a higher percentage than Singapore are Brazil (93 per cent) and Japan (87 per cent). Singapore has the highest percentage of CIOs predicting ‘significantly more’ cyber-attacks in the next five years – 30 per cent compared to the global average of 19 per cent.
“The fight against rising cyber-threats is entering a critical phase as Singapore is experiencing a shortage of IT professionals with the right cyber-security skills to defend companies against these attacks,” says David Jones, Senior Managing Director Robert Half Asia Pacific.
“Companies know they need to take action to confront cyber-attackers. This means investing in a cyber-security strategy that brings together the right mix of technology and people.”
Top 3 cyber-security risks
IT leaders say the top three cyber-security risks facing Singaporean organizations in the next five years are data abuse/data integrity (59 per cent), spying/spyware/ransomware (54 per cent) and cyber-crime (53 per cent).
“New technologies raise new security concerns. This can result in a skills gap where the available expertise has not kept pace with the evolving IT threats.”
“As demand for new cyber-specialists entering the IT market outstrips supply, companies are being forced to reconsider their training and retention programs. They are also recruiting from overseas, partnering with educational organizations, and developing flexible hiring strategies that include both permanent and contract specialists, including external risk agencies,” Jones said.
Popular and challenging to find cyber-security skills
In response to the new wave of cyber-attackers, almost a quarter (23 per cent) of Singaporean CIOs say they will be adding new permanent IT security professionals to their team in the next 12 months. One in three (29 per cent) say they are planning to hire IT professionals for newly added contract positions within their team.
Several specialized cyber-security roles are in high demand as organizations are confronted with additional security threats, including mobile, application and Big Data analytics security.
Whilst CIOs identify Big Data and data analytics (46 per cent), cloud security (46 per cent) and application security (38 per cent) as the top three technical skills in demand, these competencies turn out to be amongst the most challenging security skills to find, thereby highlighting the IT security skills gap.
Jones said: “Companies need a talent management program to combat the IT security skills shortage. They need to assess what skills they are missing and either invest in training programs for existing IT professionals or hire additional IT security experts to fill the gap.”
“While technical skills are still must-have competencies for a specific position, soft skills have also become substantially more important. The ability to analyze data and provide insights, as well as a strong business acumen and communication skills, have developed into highly sought-after skills for an IT security role.”
“The ability to clearly articulate cyber-security issues in a language that senior management and non-IT employees understand increases security awareness and enhances the reputation of the IT department as business partners who add value across the business,” Jones concluded.