Cybercrime is on the rise. Businesses, organisations, and individuals are more likely to be targeted with cybercrime in 2023, and this is a problem that is growing rather than subsiding. Given this fact, you might assume that the cybersecurity industry is effectively equipping itself to strike back and cause problems for cybercriminals.
However, the truth is that cybersecurity is struggling with issues such as the fast rise of cybercrime tools and a shortage of skilled and qualified staff. And perhaps it is no surprise that it faces an additional challenge; the chronic underrepresentation of women in cybersecurity roles.
So, let’s take a look at how more women in cybersecurity can actually go a long way to solving the problems the industry is currently facing.
There can be no doubt that despite the fact that cybersecurity has never been more important to businesses and organisations, there are significant challenges to the industry. Perhaps the most significant is the all too present cybersecurity skills gap, with not enough qualified candidates to fill open positions.
This is particularly concerning as cybercrime is on the rise and is projected to continue growing in the coming years. The shortage of cybersecurity professionals makes organisations vulnerable to cyber attacks and data breaches, as well as making it much more expensive to hire cybersecurity professionals.
“The core problem, adding to the security gap, remains unchanged,” says Sue Poremba, writing for Cybersecurity Dive. “The demand for cybersecurity is greater than ever, due to an evolving threat landscape with attacks that are more difficult to detect and defend. But the available potential workforce isn’t keeping pace with that demand, largely because of a lack of interest from young people entering the job market.”
The skills gap is a huge issue – but there is a solution staring us in the face. And that is by bringing more women into the cybersecurity field. It is certainly fair to say that cybersecurity is a male-dominated sphere; women currently make up just under a quarter of the global cybersecurity workforce.
Increasing their representation would not only increase the number of qualified candidates but also diversify the talent market. A more diverse workforce brings a range of perspectives and ideas, which can lead to more innovative and effective solutions.
An all-male cybersecurity team is likely to suffer from a lack of female thinking, which weakens the team and means issues aren’t examined from all angles. Women provide a fresh perspective and a different, often more detail focussed, mindset when thinking about how to minimise cybersecurity risk and address problems.
“Women are natural change agents and guardians with unique talents and when women are included and unleashed in business, they’ll be able to create the prosperity, the health, the innovation, and the sustainability the planet needs” explains Jane Frankland, a cybersecurity specialist. “I know the benefits that gender diversity can bring when more women are in male-dominated industries like cyber”.
Women bring a unique perspective to the table, and their inclusion in cybersecurity teams can lead to more thorough and comprehensive approaches to security.
It is unfortunately true that women are often targeted by cybercriminals, making it crucial to have a female perspective on cybersecurity. This makes it imperative that women’s issues are factored into how businesses and organistions assess and manage their cybersecurity. Women may have different experiences and concerns when it comes to online security, and their input can help to create solutions that better protect everyone.
It’s a great idea for businesses not only to focus on hiring more female staff, but also to ensure that staff across the organisation get trained in the principles of good cybersecurity. Cybersecurity specialista Censornet recommend companies should train their staff to “spot phishing emails by testing them ‘in the wild’, with automated simulations direct to their inboxes.”
Despite the underrepresentation of women in the cybersecurity field, it is certainly the case that women have not been entirely absent from the industry. It is certainly true that women have made significant contributions to the sector via groundbreaking technologies, discovering vulnerabilities, and holding leadership positions.
Indeed, women have always had a key role to play in cybersecurity, even if this has not always been particularly well publicised. Women have a lot to offer and should be encouraged to pursue careers in cybersecurity.
The history goes to show the importance of including women in modern cybersecurity plans and ensuring that cybersecurity teams have a good gender balance.
One of the major challenges for companies is the fact that there are several barriers to entry for women wanting to enter the cybersecurity field. The majority of these barriers happen by accident, rather than intention, but they do nevertheless make it much harder for women to find a role in the industry.
Some of the barriers include a lack of access to education and training, unconscious bias, and a lack of female role models. It is also true that as there are fewer women making hiring decisions about cybersecurity teams, the importance of including women is sometimes minimised.
To address these barriers, there needs to be a concerted effort to promote cybersecurity as a career option for women, provide mentorship and networking opportunities, and increase the visibility of successful women in the field.
Encouraging more women into the cybersecurity workplace not only has the potential to improve the skills and diversity of the industry, but may also solve some of the significant problems the sector is facing. Cybersecurity recruiters should make this a priority for their organisation and find ways to both employ and train more women in the field.
Read more about women in cybersecurity.