In-Demand: Top Cybersecurity Skills in 2021

By Krystal Rennie / Adlumin, Inc.

Hello, 2021! What a relief it is that we can all start fresh in the new year. For many companies, that fresh start includes new budgets, new department goals, and most importantly, new hiring priorities. According to Cybercrime Magazine, “the world will have 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by the end of 2021. Every IT position is also a cybersecurity position now. Every IT worker, every technology worker, needs to be involved with protecting and defending apps, data, devices, infrastructure, and people.”

As companies move beyond the basics of various artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), IT experts are looking to become more innovative with their department’s projects. Consequently, companies enter the new year with open job listings looking to diversify their teams and skillsets. If your company is looking to hire new IT employees, a potential first step should be to identify what skill sets your team is currently missing or lacking. 

New Year, New Skill Requirements

While we may start the new year off with a clean slate, it does not mean that cybercriminals or attacks will no longer be an issue. If we have learned anything from 2020, it is that cybercriminals are sneakier, smarter, and more sophisticated with their attacks. For that very reason, IT teams must have employees with both basic and advanced cybersecurity skills. Below are some of the most in-demand cybersecurity and tech skills to master in 2021:

  1. Cloud-Native Architecture Skills: Companies seek to do less of the heavy lifting when it comes to projects and building products and services in a cloud-native architecture. As a direct result, employees with expertise in cloud foundations and containers will be in high demand for companies seeking IT professionals.
  1. Artificial Intelligence and Automation Skills: According to the TechRepublic, “artificial intelligence is moving out of the early adopter phase and into more mainstream use.” Some Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) companies use AI and ML to determine User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) and malicious behavior from anomalous behavior in the network. This means that companies need employees who can follow the AI trail to find bad actors in the network. As AI’s popularity grows in the industry, basic knowledge of its processes will no longer be enough. Employers need to see that professionals have a deep understanding of accessing data sets using AI and automation tools.
  1. Risk Management Skills: More companies prioritize IT experts who have a deep understanding of which threats pose the most significant risk and can identify those threats. This is a requirement so that tools and training materials are accurately allocated within the department and result in innovative processes and protection.
  1. Data Management Skills: As claimed by a CSO Magazine article, “the security department is one of the biggest generators of data within the enterprise, and in many organizations, it’s becoming one of the biggest consumers of data, too, as it seeks to use the information to drive more effective and efficient protection strategies.” Data management plays an integral role within the IT department as more experienced engineers must handle massive amounts of data to prevent and protect against threats.
  1. Technical Fundamentals: Most IT experts are looking for employees who understand technology at the most fundamental levels. Financial institution IT personnel specifically need to understand technical tools and platforms. Hiring managers are looking to build teams that consist of employees who understand technical fundamentals—the IT components that make up the digital world’s infrastructure. Expertise in programming, system administration, and network skills are among the fundamental necessities.
  1. Interpersonal Skills: It is an undeniable fact that teamwork requires many interpersonal skills. As also stated in the CSO article, “the cybersecurity function has become not only more critical with the rise of the digital economy, it has become more prominent as well. That puts security professionals in front of the C-suite, board members, and employees with greater frequency. So, they must be able to collaborate, communicate, and consult with these various stakeholders.”

In order to build a robust cybersecurity department, the ideal candidate must balance interpersonal and technical skills specific to the profession. Ensuring you are looking for the right mix of skills plays a crucial role in the hiring process and can ultimately make or break your department’s success.

Cybersecurity Expectations in 2021 and Beyond

This year, it is essential that companies realize that cybersecurity solutions are no longer a luxury but simply a requirement. As mentioned in Cybercrime Magazine, “global spending on cybersecurity products and services are predicted to exceed $1 trillion (cumulatively) over five years.” As companies invest more money, resources, and technologies into their IT departments, picking the most qualified IT experts who can meet industry demands will be crucial.

We will continue to see cybersecurity solutions expand in their capabilities and impact requirements (or standards) across other industries, resulting in an increased demand for new IT roles. The bottom line is that IT professionals and departments cannot reach their full potential without developing both the foundational and advanced cybersecurity skills necessary to remain victorious against threats in the cyberworld.