16/11/2016 07:02 GMT | Updated 16/11/2017 05:12 GMT

Defence Against Cyber Threats Close To Home And Out Of This World

Cyber-attacks are happening with alarming regularity, with high profile hacks on businesses including Tesco and Michael Page frequently making the headlines. But perhaps the greatest cyber threat we will face in the future will come from much further afield - space.

Thousands of satellites are already orbiting the planet in space; and governments, organisations and educational institutions are increasingly relying on data generated by these systems to determine weather forecasts, navigation, financial transactions, air traffic control signals and much more. However, this growing dependence on satellites is opening us up to vulnerabilities from cybercriminals, who are becoming ever more sophisticated, and are looking further afield to access our data in new ways.

Organisations that rely on satellites for vital information need to keep pace, as hackers have an increasing array of tools at their disposal to disrupt our work and personal lives. What therefore, can businesses do to protect themselves against the intensifying digital warfare, both now and in the future?

Security skills in demand

Recent research revealed that the most sought after skills in cyber security are CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), SIEM (Security Information and Event Management), IDAM (Identity Access Management), ArcSight, penetration testers and biometrics. However, there is an increasing shortage of talent with these skills - just 103,000 people worldwide hold a CISSP, one of the main cyber security certifications.

With cyber security expertise in short supply, businesses are willing to pay more to bring in the right skill sets. According to our research, the average salary for permanent IT security professionals now stands at £58,003, up 7.95% on last year's figures. IT security day rates are also on the rise - up 4.98% year-on-year (£443 on average), as many companies turn to short-term contractor support to help plug the gaps.

For organisations struggling to find the right talent, there are several things they can do to mitigate short-term and long-term threats:

  • Embrace a more flexible workforce - Anticipate and plan for potential risks in three to five years' time, as well as current threats, and the different skills that will be needed as a result. Partner with a workforce provider to ensure you have a flexible and scalable solution for the future. This will enable you to bring in different skills and transfer knowledge between different people at different times. It will often include a combination of permanent, short-term contractors, Employed Consultants, off-shoring and outsourcing.

  • Encourage learnability - Remember, cyber security candidates won't always have all the core credentials on their CV. Look to hire individuals with the aptitude and enthusiasm to learn new skills and then give them the freedom to experiment with new technologies and platforms once they're through the door.

  • Provide continuous training and opportunities to up-skill - Support and encourage IT security professionals to continually up-skill. This can be done both internally and externally. For example, encourage individuals to work on different types of projects across the business to widen their understanding, and to complete the latest industry-certified security courses. All this needn't be a complicated or expensive process - a lot of the skills that IT professionals already have are easily transferrable.

As the threat of cybercrime intensifies both on and around the planet, there's never been a more important time for organisations to batten down the hatches to protect themselves. By adopting these types of approaches however, businesses will be able to strengthen their defence and ensure they don't become the next cyber-attack headline.