The Elusive Guardians: Why Cybersecurity Experts Are Hard to Find

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In an era defined by digital transformation and an ever-expanding online landscape, the need for robust cybersecurity has never been more critical. From multinational corporations to government agencies and even individuals, the specter of cyber threats looms large, and the consequences of a breach can be catastrophic. Yet, in this high-stakes game of digital cat and mouse, a glaring paradox emerges: the demand for cybersecurity experts has skyrocketed, but finding and retaining these elusive guardians has proven to be a daunting challenge.

Cybersecurity experts, often likened to modern-day knights defending the digital realm, possess a unique set of skills and knowledge that are increasingly essential to the functioning of our interconnected world. Their role is not only to protect sensitive information and digital infrastructure but also to anticipate, adapt to, and outmaneuver the ever-evolving tactics of cybercriminals. However, despite the evident need for their expertise, organizations across industries find themselves in an uphill battle when it comes to recruiting, retaining, and nurturing these cybersecurity professionals.

This article delves into the multifaceted reasons behind the scarcity of cybersecurity experts in today’s landscape. We will explore the evolving nature of cyber threats, the perpetual skills gap, the allure of the dark side, and the relentless demand for these guardians of the digital realm. As we dissect these challenges, we will shed light on the complexities that have led to the scarcity of cybersecurity experts, leaving organizations vulnerable and highlighting the imperative need to address this pressing issue in the 21st century.

The Cybersecurity Talent Shortage

According to excerpts from an article by Stack, they wrote, “More and more businesses and individuals are becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks every day. And this has driven up the need to have cybersecurity experts available for your business.

Here’s the twist: despite this increasing need for cybersecurity professionals, finding the right talent to fill these roles is becoming increasingly difficult. In fact, studies revealed that the global cybersecurity workforce gap has increased by 26.2% in 2022, at a talent scarcity of 3.4 million.

Surprising? Not quite so. Here’s what it primarily stems from… almost zero formal education/training programs, a lack of understanding of why cybersecurity is important, and a stereotypical perception of the field as being overly technical and dry.

Is Finding Cybersecurity Talent Difficult in 2023?

The answer is simple – Yes, it is.

The demand for cybersecurity professionals is skyrocketing, but the pool of qualified candidates is severely failing to keep up as most organizations struggle to find the right fit. Many are even turning to outsourcing, managed security services, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to address the shortage.

But why is this shortage continuously increasing? Here are a few reasons:

Lack of Diversity

Reports highlight how poorly diverse the global cybersecurity workforce is currently, with only 25% of the staff being female. Cybersecurity is often seen as a “male-dominated” field, leading to the assumption that women and other minorities are not interested in or capable of working in this field. This stereotype can discourage a wide pool of sheer talent from pursuing careers in cybersecurity, further perpetuating the lack of diversity in the industry.

Emphasis on Qualifications

Cybersecurity has always been a complex field that requires a combination of technical and non-technical skills; alongside plenty of specialized knowledge. However, employers today require hires to have multiple qualifications as standard – especially for entry-level positions.

Many people interested in working in cybersecurity are unable to get their foot in the door as they do not have these specific skills or certifications. Besides, qualifications that once sufficed aren’t very relevant nowadays, while new degrees are constantly being created in sync with the latest trends.

Employee Burnout

Burnout is no secret in this fast-paced industry. In fact, as per recent studies, 51% of cybersecurity professionals agree to undergo extreme stress or burnout, 65% have considered leaving their jobs due to stress, and 73% have left their jobs. Why so? Well, this job requires constant vigilance and attention to detail, which can be exhausting for even the most dedicated employees.

The threats become more sophisticated, while there’s an ongoing severe shortage of cybersecurity skills. And as the pool of available talent shrinks, the overburdening responsibilities among active staff go higher. It gets worse as employees fail to upskill as they should, primarily due to excessive workload.

Poor Work-life Balance

The impact of poor work-life balance on cybersecurity skill shortage is becoming increasingly apparent.

With long hours and little time for vacation or family, many cybersecurity professionals are burning out. This leads to a high attrition rate as experts leave the field in droves. In fact, a report highlighted that 45% of cybersecurity workers are quitting their jobs due to high work-related stress, leading to an unbalanced personal life.

Again, surprised? We’re not.

A Changing Landscape

The complexity of technology systems in large companies has skyrocketed due to the rapid digitization and integration of new partners and ecosystems. This complexity, often caused by legacy systems and multiplied by mergers, has led to higher cyber risks, costs, and devastating attacks that can go undiscovered for months.

Short-term Outlook for Finding Cybersecurity Talent

With overly rising demand and insufficient supply, the short-term outlook for hiring and retaining the right fit for cybersecurity jobs is quite a challenge, to say the least.

  • Rise in demand: As the world continues to rely on tech, the need for professionals with the skills and knowledge to protect their systems and data will also grow. This trend is likely to continue as technology continues to evolve and the threat landscape changes constantly.
  • Remote cyber talent: Demand for remote cyber talent has skyrocketed as companies seek individuals with expertise in cybersecurity, cloud computing, data protection, and network administration. This trend is expected to continue as hybrid working becomes more prevalent, alongside companies recognizing the importance of investing in the right talent.
  • Assessing qualification:The growing focus on AI, ML cloud security, and the Internet of Things (IoT) will require new and different skill sets, making it even more challenging to assess cybersecurity candidates effectively.
  • Diversity and industry-based expertise: A diverse team brings unique perspectives and skill sets that allow for a more comprehensive approach to security. Industry-based expertise is also critical, as the threats and vulnerabilities vary greatly between industries.


Reducing the gap in cybersecurity talent requires a multi-faceted approach that includes education within universities, hands-on cyber training, more courses and workshops, and increasing awareness.”

Okay, so what can SMBs do right now to protect their businesses? It starts with educating yourself about the very real threats that are happening right now and arming yourself with solutions…

Top Cybersecurity Challenges and Solutions for SMBs

In excerpts from an article by Bitlyft, they wrote, “It’s true that small IT and security teams are typically overseeing smaller companies and networks in comparison to on-prem SOCs for large enterprises. However, most organizations don’t realize that a smaller company doesn’t equate to fewer IT responsibilities. While there are typically fewer devices on a smaller company’s network, small security teams are facing the same technology growth, security threats, increased dependency on endpoints, and challenges of remote work as larger teams. Yet, they’re forced to manage with fewer people and often cover multiple roles at once. These are some of the biggest cybersecurity challenges facing SMBs in 2023.

Keeping Up with New Tech Developments

From the plethora of Industry 4.0 endpoints to new technology introduced when companies in all industries turned to remote work, organizations are adding more new technologies to networks than ever before. Changing workflows and using new tools creates uncertainty for employees and greater dependence on IT professionals.

SMBs often depend on professionals to take on dual roles to keep things running smoothly. When new tech is introduced, professionals on these teams are responsible for tasks like optimization, security controls, user support, troubleshooting, and testing new tools. All of these tasks are shuffled into an already full schedule, placing more demand on an already overworked team.

Maintaining Compliance

Every business that collects, stores, or shares customer information has to deal with certain compliance requirements. These requirements vary from one industry to the next and must be updated occasionally to keep up with the changing threat landscape. Small security teams or IT teams tasked with security duties are required to know which regulations and compliance standards apply to your organization to avoid fines and penalties that can severely impact business finances and operations.

As technology continues to increase, security and IT professionals are responsible for ensuring new devices, applications, software, and infrastructure are optimized to fit within the regulations required for the industry. Recent increases in cybercrime that impacted government agencies and critical infrastructure have spurred new regulations as well. This means smaller teams will be faced with the major task of preparing organizations for new certifications and maintaining the security regulations that go along with them. Compliance maintenance can mean new requirements for existing tools and the implementation of new processes for all employees.

Preparing for the Post-Pandemic Workplace

In many industries, remote work was a distant dream for employees before pandemic restrictions forced companies to find solutions. After a rocky start, companies of all sizes and across all industries settled into a new normal that offered an improved work/life balance. As businesses reopened for full-time work, many employees preferred to remain working from home for various reasons. Now, companies are looking at a very different future where over 50% of employees expect a hybrid work arrangement.

For SMBs, preparing for the post-pandemic workplace means managing a network that offers a seamless work experience for both remote workers and those on-site. As pandemic concerns and the possibility of new COVID variants remain a constant threat, IT teams will also be tasked with new technologies that implement hands-free processes and social distancing. These technologies must also be optimized to avoid potential breaches. Typically, IT professionals will have a part in identifying and optimizing the right tools for these new processes.

Recruiting and Retaining Talent

The cybersecurity talent shortage and burnout has left a shallow talent pool of qualified professionals. As a result, the recruitment of cybersecurity professionals has become more competitive. SMBs typically don’t have the resources to recruit talent like large corporations. Even worse, large companies can entice professionals to leave smaller companies for better pay and benefits at larger companies. Small teams are stretched thinner and have fewer resources to offer the companies they serve.

Managing Cybersecurity

New technology and the mass introduction of remote work provided cybercriminals with an explosion of opportunities to exploit new vulnerabilities. As the threat surface continues to increase and workforce models face new changes, new threats arise. Cyber attacks have become more sophisticated and harder to detect. The dark web offers opportunities for even those without technical knowledge to invest in cybercrime. Spearfishing attacks range from $100 to $1,000. A ransomware kit can be purchased for less than $100. Distributed denial of service attacks cost less than $500. Simply put, there are more criminals and more opportunities for cybercrime than ever before.

Cybersecurity isn’t a project that can be completed. It’s an ongoing process that requires constant implementation and upgrades to match evolving crime. For effective cybersecurity, real-time monitoring of networks and devices is an absolute must. For small security teams, comprehensive security around the clock is practically impossible.

Preparing for Cyber Attacks

In today’s advanced threat landscape, it’s inevitable that most companies will eventually experience a breach. Cybersecurity doesn’t begin and end with perimeter defense. How an organization responds to a breach can be the most important factor in how much damage is achieved. When your security strategy fails, IT and security professionals are responsible for having a plan in place to stop an attack and mitigate damage.

Many compliance guidelines and security protocols require companies to have a response plan in place. However, a plan that has never been tested doesn’t offer a great deal of security. When tech teams and security professionals strategize and run tests to determine how a plan will be carried out in real-time, they have a better chance of adequately responding to an attack. However, small teams rarely have the resources, headcount, or time to conduct such tests.

Tool Sprawl

New technology and advanced tools can help businesses grow and generate improved performance and productivity. Yet, it’s easy to overlook the fact that more tools generally lead to more work for IT professionals. Businesses in all industries are increasing their dependence on cloud-based applications, IoT devices, remote user devices, and other technologies. Instead of managing and protecting a central network, IT and security professionals are tasked with maintaining a variety of disconnected tools. Without the right integrations, this can mean extra tasks and processes for different devices.

AI and Machine Learning

Tools that automate services are offering ways for companies in all industries to streamline processes and create more efficient workflows. However, automated solutions require specific technology that utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Both AI and Machine Learning can improve various business processes and even streamline cybersecurity tasks. However, these tools require precise optimization for the intended results.

IT teams are tasked with optimizing new software and often training or providing support for the employees who use it. For smaller teams, this can result in long hours and daily work overload. If teams don’t have the resources or time to devote to these new tools, they often won’t operate as intended and end up a poor investment for the company.

Aging Systems and Software

SMBs generally hope to keep infrastructure costs low to focus on growing the business. Since technology is constantly evolving, this can result in a significant budget strain. End-of-life is a fact for all technology systems. It means that the technology will no longer be updated or supported by the provider. If an organization continues to rely on legacy systems, they are likely to present headaches and security concerns for the IT teams attempting to manage them. Without regulatory updates and mandates for outdated software and other tools, organizations are more likely to face compliance issues and lose essential certifications.

Decreasing Budgets and Increasing Workloads

All of the new challenges facing IT teams and security teams lead to continually increasing workloads. Yet, teams aren’t growing to match the increased work and budgets aren’t stretching to provide effective solutions. IT is an industry that requires time, people, equipment, and funding. Unfortunately, most organizations aren’t capable of keeping up with such growth. Even worse, as companies invest in new technology to increase business growth, budgets for IT teams and tools are shrinking. As a result, IT teams and security teams that are shrinking are under more pressure than ever to deliver more services at a more efficient rate than ever before.

Why Cybersecurity Tools Aren’t a Complete Solution

There are a plethora of cybersecurity solutions available to help security teams manage large networks comprised of the most modern elements of technology. Yet, more tools don’t always equal more efficiency. Research shows that organizations are using more than 45 tools on average for improving cybersecurity. Those using more than 50 ranked themselves 8% lower in their ability to detect an attack, and 7% lower in terms of responding to an attack. On the surface, these numbers don’t make sense. However, when you consider that the implementation of more tools can result in more work for IT professionals, you can begin to see how tools might become a burden.

Too many cybersecurity tools can be overwhelming in a variety of ways. Tools designed for a specific purpose don’t always work without conflicting other security interests. If systems don’t work together, it’s impossible to get a comprehensive view of the entire network. As a result, manual work increases, and redundant reports can increase security fatigue. Overloading your small team with security tools can result in these issues.

Security Tool Sprawl

The best IT ecosystems are interconnected in a way that allows businesses to complete seamless workflows across company branches and departments. Yet, many cybersecurity tools are designed for a specific cybersecurity purpose. All security tools are designed to provide better insight into network activity and provide information about suspicious behavior. While visibility combined with automated alerts does offer increased security, spreading these capabilities across multiple tools can actually increase the time it takes to recognize and mediate threats.

A large collection of disconnected tools requires more manual upkeep from cybersecurity professionals. For small IT teams, it can become impossible to keep up with the demands. Cybersecurity tools require professionals to monitor dashboards, prioritize alerts, and respond to potential threats in real-time. When teams are stretched thin, individual responsibilities can become blurred and critical duties overlooked. When the volume of tools is simply too much for the staff to manage, tools can actually become a burden, creating redundant alerts to follow up on and multiple sources of information to monitor.

Poor Integration

Cybersecurity tools designed to complete a specific task often perform as expected and even do it well. If an organization had only one cybersecurity concern, the one tool would likely meet the needs of the company. However, cybercrime is a continually growing landscape that forces organizations to field a variety of different threats. Often, security teams find that one cybersecurity tool fails to meet the full scope of the organization’s needs. As a result, additional tools are added to the company’s security stack for comprehensive results.

Unfortunately, these different tools are often not designed to work together. They complete some of the same tasks in different ways, and sometimes interrupt each other, inhibiting the performance of one or more tools. As a result, IT professionals receive more false alerts because many of them contain redundant information supplied by different tools that do not communicate with each other. Since security tools require certain access to systems or network traffic to run, tools that don’t communicate with the same data exchange language can limit the functionality of data collection, decreasing the performance of security tools.

Multiple tools that don’t speak the same language can even create headaches for end-users. Since effective cybersecurity hygiene depends on the behavior of users, extra steps must often be taken to complete tasks common to daily workflows. Whether this means applying labels, using strong passwords, or requesting authorization to share data, multiple tools can require users to complete the extra steps multiple times for a single task. As a result, production suffers. Frustrated users may search for a work-around that presents vulnerabilities or require more support from the already overworked IT team.

Optimization Failure

Many cybersecurity tools are complex systems that import data, detect different types of behavior, and provide automated responses. To complete these complex tasks, these tools utilize machine learning and artificial intelligence. However, each organization using such tools has unique workflows, compliance requirements, types of sensitive data, and responsibilities. For cybersecurity to be effective, it must be customized to meet the needs of an organization. This means that cybersecurity and IT professionals are tasked with telling tools which information to collect and where to collect it from. The tools will need further refinement to clarify which actions represent a real threat to reduce false alerts. Testing must also be completed routinely to ensure optimum performance.

This process is called optimization. For a tool that depends on machine learning to work properly, optimization takes time and continual fine-tuning. Successful optimization requires security professionals to identify and group data, weed out unimportant information, conduct tests, configure alert responses, and integrate the processes with other tools. Small IT and security teams must incorporate tool optimization into the daily workflow, often leading to rushed processes and poor optimization. As a result, tools don’t perform as intended.

The Human Factor

An effective tech stack is only half of the cybersecurity puzzle. AI and modern security tools provide many benefits, but they’re not a complete cybersecurity solution. Cybercriminals are intelligent individuals who keep up with the pace of changing technology and continually devise new ways to exploit potential vulnerabilities. To stay ahead of threat actors, IT and cybersecurity professionals must think creatively and predict the human behavior behind specific attacks. There is no way to introduce the creativity of humans into machine learning.

A small IT team or cybersecurity team depending on a massive group of tools faces inadequate manpower to effectively use the tools on deck. As a result, professionals are overworked, tools fail to perform properly, and all too often, tools provide a false sense of confidence that leads to overlooked threats. The lack of security headcount simply can not be overcome by tool use.

How SMBs Can Increase Headcount without Building a SOC

In today’s environment, increasing security headcount is a challenge for any size organization. SMBs typically don’t have the resources to offer top cybersecurity professionals the same benefits and pay as large businesses. As a result, smaller IT teams face bigger challenges attempting to grow. Even worse, large companies hoping to increase IT headcount can entice professionals from smaller companies to leave their current position, making small teams even leaner. Since increasing internal headcount within a small security team is often impossible, many businesses need a way to increase cybersecurity headcount without changing their internal team.

For many businesses of all sizes, the answer to a successful cybersecurity solution will be an investment in outsourced services supplied by a top cybersecurity provider. Outsourced services provide organizations of all sizes with cybersecurity services tailored to the company’s needs.

These services often include highly sophisticated, modern cybersecurity tools as well as core services from cybersecurity professionals who act as an extension of your team. As a result, organizations reap the benefits of streamlined cybersecurity workflows generated by a layered, integrated system and increased cybersecurity headcount without changes in the internal team.”

In the rapidly evolving landscape of cybersecurity, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) face an array of daunting challenges. From keeping pace with new technology developments to ensuring compliance with ever-changing regulations, the demands on their IT and security teams continue to escalate. As the world grapples with the aftermath of the pandemic, a shifting workforce model, and increasingly sophisticated cyber threats, SMBs find themselves at a crossroads.

One major challenge confronting SMBs is the recruitment and retention of cybersecurity talent. In a global market that’s experiencing a severe shortage of skilled professionals, smaller organizations are often outgunned by larger corporations with deeper pockets. The cybersecurity talent pool remains shallow, and the competition for top talent is fierce.

The rising complexity of technology systems, coupled with the constant evolution of cyber threats, further compounds these challenges. Cybersecurity is no longer a one-size-fits-all solution but rather a dynamic, adaptive field requiring diverse skill sets. SMBs struggle to keep up with this rapidly changing landscape.

SMBs must consider alternative approaches to bolster their cybersecurity defenses. Outsourcing to specialized cybersecurity providers is an effective solution, offering access to advanced tools and a team of experts who can supplement internal resources.

While the cybersecurity landscape may be riddled with complexities and challenges, proactive measures can be taken. SMBs can navigate these treacherous waters by embracing innovative solutions, optimizing their existing tools, and seeking external support when needed. Only through a combination of strategic planning and leveraging the right resources can SMBs hope to protect themselves effectively in this ever-evolving cybersecurity battleground.

At Adaptive Office Solutions, cybersecurity is our specialty. We keep cybercrimes at bay by using analysis, forensics, and reverse engineering to prevent malware attempts and patch vulnerability issues. By making an investment in multilayered cybersecurity, you can leverage our expertise to boost your defenses, mitigate risks, and protect your data with next-gen IT security solutions.

Every device connecting to the internet poses a cyber security threat, including that innocent-looking smartwatch you’re wearing. Adaptive’s wide range of experience and certifications fills the gaps in your business’s IT infrastructure and dramatically increases the effectiveness of your cybersecurity posture.

Using our proactive cybersecurity management, cutting-edge network security tools, and comprehensive business IT solutions, you can lower your costs through systems that are running at their prime, creating greater efficiency and preventing data loss and costly downtime. With Adaptive Office Solutions by your side, we’ll help you navigate the complexities of cybersecurity so you can achieve business success without worrying about online threats.

To schedule a Cyber Security Risk Review, call the Adaptive Office Solutions’ hotline at 506-624-9480 or email us at