By Aidan McCauley, Vice President of Technology Investments, IDA Ireland
Some of the fans glancing toward the outfield at a baseball game may be recalling their own Little League days. If they were in the outfield and looked to be unprepared, they would hear, “Ready position!” Most likely this command would have been prefaced by yelling the young person’s name and come from the coach, parents, or both at once. The four-step response is to place legs apart, bend slightly at the knees, lean forward slightly, and look intently toward home plate. Should the next swing of the bat require them to run, spring up, or bend down, they’re now ready to field the ball.
Good News Amid Grim Figures
Firms who must protect their intellectual property along with their own data and that of their customers are heeding a “Ready Position” command that’s being expressed in numeric form: predictions that cybercrime worldwide
will cost $6 trillion annually by 2021 and that more than three million cybersecurity job postings worldwide will go begging over the next 5-7 years; IT professionals reporting the cybersecurity skills gap at their companies heads their list of worries for the fourth year in a row; a 300,000 worker shortfall of U.S cyber employees last year; 64 percent of respondents telling the Ponemon Institute in 2018 that “one or more endpoint attacks …successfully compromised data assets and/or IT infrastructure over the past 12 months.”
Yet for all these grim statistics, there is good news. Yes, the shortage of individuals to fill cybersecurity roles is a challenge. The chasm between cybersecurity positions and people to fill them is growing at triple the rate for other IT job shortages. However, as with the steps Little Leaguers take to be versatile fielders, steps to meet the evolving cybersecurity challenge are available to businesses. Some regions and ecosystems offer more opportunity than others to leverage those steps.
Earlier this year senior principal analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group Jon Oltsik wrote that measures to address the severe worker shortage include: leadership at the governmental level; public/private partnership; and “an integrated industry effort.” Actions corresponding to these steps are already well underway in Ireland, which has long had a tech-sector-supportive ecosystem.
Part of this ecosystem is the expansive cybersecurity initiative Cyber Ireland, a cluster organization, created by Ireland’s foreign direct investment agency, IDA, and academic institute Cork Institute of Technology that also includes US businesses to find a solution to the worldwide problem.
Representatives from U.S. businesses and the Irish government looked closely together at the key challenges facing enterprises in the cyber sector. Putting their heads together enabled IDA along with Google, Microsoft, Facebook, IBM, Dell, SAP, Cisco, and other firms with a commitment to ongoing cybersecurity to lay the groundwork for Cyber Ireland. Cyber Ireland made sure to form a board that includes representatives from industry, agencies including the National Cyber Security Centre and the Garda Cyber Crime Bureau, government, and academia.
Joining a Robust Ecosystem
A natural result of following the integrated industry effort was the launch of the well-funded Cybersecurity Skills Initiative (CSI). CSI graduates have already joined the cybersecurity workforce in Ireland, most employed by US multinational firms, a trend expected to continue. These graduates become part of a thriving ecosystem that includes Forcepoint’s Cloud Security Centre of Excellence, the Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Global Cyber Defence Centre, and McAfee’s Centre of Excellence for Enterprise Security Solutions in Ireland, to name a few.
By 2022, CSI graduates will account for 5,000 new cybersecurity professionals joining this ecosystem. That’s an achievement that could not have been contemplated without the engagement of U.S companies with Irish locations. Firms such as Deloitte, IBM, and Maxol collaborated with Skillnet, Ireland’s corporate-government training agency, to design the curriculum. Cork Institute of Technology, Dublin City University and other colleges in Ireland deliver content both on-line and in the classroom. Cross-training and up training for IT professionals from all sectors takes place in programs that range from 12-week courses to graduate programs. US companies can also access Europe’s working population of 250 million – countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) do not require individuals from these EEA nations to obtain work permits.
The pace and the curriculum of CSI take into account, as was emphasized recently on forbes.com, that cyberattacks don’t come in just one flavor. Training, informed by industry, government, and academia in partnership, helps prepare graduates to fit specific expertise to specific threats.
The ecosystem these graduates will continue to enter is one where Cyber Ireland’s goal will continue to be encouraging and facilitating the unimpeded flow of R&D resources and knowledge among industry, cybersecurity agencies, and academia.
Commitment to this goal is why Dr. Eoin Byrne, cluster manager of Cyber Ireland, explains, “It’s not only that we can address issues that the industry faces and will face beyond just security, it’s also that we have the advantage of building upon U.S. businesses, Irish government, and academia already having put their heads together to understand the key challenges for the tech sector.”
Putting more cybersecurity professionals into a ready position for the defense of our connected world is already happening. With teams that include all the stakeholders, strong government support, and a successful cybersecurity history to draw upon, readiness, no matter what the bad guys throw at your enterprise, can be counted on.
Caption for to-be-determined image: As the number of connected devices grows—25.1 billion in 2025, compared to 2017’s 7.5 billion—the attack surface for threat actors expands too, making initiatives to rapidly increase the number of cybersecurity professionals vital.
About the Author
Aidan McCauley is Vice President of Enterprise Technology and Cyber Security investments for IDA Ireland based out of its Mountain View office, California. Aidan supports Bay Area companies looking to assess the best location to establish and grow their European operations. By providing critical data such as talent, productivity, property, ease of doing business, financial incentives and freedom of movement, companies can carry out thorough due diligence and be informed of the benefits of doing business in the fastest growing economy in Europe, Ireland.