Automation ‘could solve security skills shortage’

Written by Peter Walker

A shortage of IT security staff across geographical regions is impacting crucial protections, although automation is providing a partial solution to the problem.

This is according to a survey of more than 1,400 security professionals based across the US, the UK and Asia Pacific (APAC) by DomainTools and the Ponemon Institute, which found 78 per cent of all respondents admitted their teams are understaffed.

Automation was cited as being able to relieve IT security professionals of time-consuming and non-cost-effective tasks, such as malware analysis, which is either already automated (50 per cent), or is planned to become so in the next three years (56 per cent).

However, only 35 per cent of respondents said that automation will reduce the headcount of their IT security function, while 40 per cent even expect an increased need for hires with more advanced technical skills.

“Within just one year, the perspective around adoption of automated technologies has notably shifted among security professionals,” said Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. “Contrary to the popular belief that the rise of automation will threaten the job market, organisations now feel these technologies will help ease the current strain on resources, and offer the potential to promote job security for highly skilled staff, while strengthening cyber security defences.”

UK and US respondents were much more confident that automation will improve their IT security staff’s ability to do their job - 59 per cent and 65 per cent of respondents, respectively - than APAC respondents (48 per cent), who were also more likely to distrust artificial intelligence (AI) as a security tool - 37 per cent of respondents, compared to 31 per cent in the UK and 24 per cent in the US.

Skills shortages were also lower in the APAC region (67 per cent) than in the UK (70 per cent) and the US (78 per cent).

Of those respondents who said AI is trusted as a security tool in their organisations, the majority listed staff shortages as the main reason why their enterprise has adopted the solution (53 per cent).

“The results of the survey reveal that, overall, security professionals are confident that automation will make their workload more manageable and will increase the accuracy of certain tasks, without jeopardising their job security,” said Corin Imai, senior security advisor at DomainTools.