LONDON — Information technology security jobs need a status upgrade to appeal to the new generation of security experts, speakers at ITEC 2012’s Cyber Security Training & Education Workshop said.
Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones, the British government’s special representative to business for cybersecurity, warned that “time is not on our side” in defending the armed forces, government and defense-related industries from cyber incursions.
She said there is no indication where the needed IT security experts will come from, but recruiting, training and keeping this new generation requires giving them increased status and making their jobs more desirable.
During the workshop’s keynote speech, she said the estimated 2.28 million IT security professionals worldwide needs to double in the next five years. That makes it an urgent priority, both in the U.K. and overseas, to create a new stream of IT security specialists.
“There are far too many people over 40 working in this area and not enough in their 20s,” Neville-Jones said. “We need to raise the profile of the occupation. The cyber world needs to enter the professional realm, with organizations like those that you find today in law and accountancy: professionalism and status are important.”
The U.K. experienced a particular problem because school pupils are “leaving ICT [information and communications technology] classes in droves because the curriculum is poor,” she said.
Such classes sometimes teach youngsters to use Windows rather than Fortran, which provides a genuine introduction to programming. Even worse, she said, is that students frequently knew more about computing than their teachers.
Last year, the British government announced an extra 650 million pounds ($1 billion) to improve cybersecurity and is promoting eight university centers of excellence to focus on cyber issues.
Neville-Jones said the government is making progress, “but things haven’t yet come together.”
Not enough money is being invested in the depth of resilience required by the military, government and industry, she said, “despite our knowledge that, at the moment, the advantage lies with the attacker.”