Next-generation cybersecurity company Sophos published findings from its global survey titled "The IT Security Team: 2021 and Beyond" that shows how significant security challenges from the past year created an opportunity for IT teams to improve their expertise in the world of cybersecurity. The majority of the IT teams that dealt with the growth of cyberattacks (68%) and heavy workloads (72%) during 2020 strengthened their cybersecurity skills and knowledge.
The survey polled 5,400 IT decisionmakers in mid-sized organizations in 30 countries across Europe, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. The statistics also show that the increase in cyberattacks during the pandemic impacted IT security skills across all industry sectors surveyed globally, including education (83%), retail (85%) and healthcare (80%). However, the global statistics from the research show that despite the challenges created by the pandemic, 52% of the IT teams surveyed said team morale increased during 2020.
The main findings included:
-The non-security workload grew among 63% of the IT teams, while 69% experienced an increase in their IT security workload.
-The attackers quickly exploited opportunities provided by the pandemic, as 61% of the IT teams reported an increase in the number of attacks against their organizations in the course of 2020.
-The experience that was gained in the course of 2020 enabled 70% of IT teams to enhance their cybersecurity skills and knowledge.
-The experience that was gained has fueled ambitions for bigger IT teams and using advanced tools such as artificial intelligence in future technology strategies. The survey found that 68% of IT teams anticipate an increase in in-house IT security staff by 2023, and 56% expect the number of outsourced IT security staff to grow by that year. A very large portion of the respondents, 92%, expect that AI technologies will help deal with the growing number and/or the complexity of attacks.
“Around the world, 2020 was an unprecedented year for IT teams,” said Chester Wisniewski, principal research scientist, Sophos. “IT professionals played a vital role in helping organizations to keep going despite the restrictions and limitations necessitated by COVID-19. Among other things, they enabled education institutions to move learning online, retailers to switch to online transactions, healthcare organizations to deliver digital services and care under incredibly tough circumstances, and ensured public entities could continue to provide essential services."
“Much of this will have been done at high speed, with limited equipment and resources available and while facing a rising tide of cyberattacks against the network, endpoints and employees. To say things were probably pretty stressful for most IT teams is an understatement," Wisniewski added.
“However, the survey shows that in many cases these challenges have created not just more highly skilled, but more motivated IT teams, ready to embrace an ambitious future. As a growing number of countries are able to start planning for life beyond pandemic restrictions, we have an excellent opportunity to implement new IT and security policies, adopt more secure modern tools to manage employees and operations beyond the IT perimeter, build expert teams that blend in-house and out-sourced talent, and introduce security platforms that combine intelligent automation with human threat hunting expertise. There is no going back. The future may be just as unprecedented as the past.”