Cybersecurity & Technological Risk: The ongoing impact of COVID-19

By Robert Half on 4th September 2020

In just a few short weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the global economy and society, including organisations and individuals, to become more reliant than ever before on the internet, apps and the digital economy as millions of people adapted to working remotely.

Many industry sectors, from insurance to primary healthcare; and from retail to banking, adapted well to this seismic change and kept their operations running throughout the crisis. The question now is whether we have yet seen a complete picture of the impact that changed work patterns have had on organisations’ technological risk profiles – and the consequences this will have for the recruitment of skilled IT security staff.

According to this recent analysis by the World Economic Forum (WEF), cyberattacks and data fraud owing to the abrupt adoption of new working patterns are considered the most likely technological risks of COVID-19 for organisations across the globe, cited by almost four-in-ten (38%) of top risk professionals.

Meanwhile, Europol reports that the mass increase in remote work across the world has created fertile ground for cybercriminals to exploit through ransomware, phishing and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, cybercrime has grown more than any other criminal activity,” the Europol report says. “With a record number of potential victims staying at home and using online services across the European Union (EU) during the pandemic, the ways for cybercriminals seeking to exploit emerging opportunities and vulnerabilities have multiplied.”

Cybersecurity skills shortage

Pressure on the number of available of cybersecurity professionals needed to deal with such threats was already underway well before the current COVID-19 crisis hit. In early 2019, Gartner TalentNeuron™ data predicted that there would be a global shortage of two million cybersecurity professionals by the end of the year.

The global pandemic has only served to escalate this situation, as further evidenced by Gartner’s analysis of new job postings between February 1 and April 10 this year, which revealed a surge in demand for info-security roles. This spike in specialist cybersecurity talent demand has been driven by big banks, technology giants and niche info security companies and is also reflected in recent IT recruitment trends observed by Robert Half across Europe. The most in-demand IT roles during the current pandemic include IT Security Analyst, IT Security Manager and Chief Security Officer alongside higher volumes of requests for Heads of Compliance, Risk Managers and IT Audit Managers – all demonstrating the importance of risk assurance and threat mitigation during these turbulent times.

The way forward post COVID-19

With large numbers of employees continuing to access and deal with sensitive customer and client information whilst working remotely, IT security professionals will remain critical for ensuring that companies maintain safe and secure working practices as we continue into the “new normal”, post-COVID-19. Whether it’s exploring further ways of making remote work more efficient and convenient by bolstering data handling protocols, enhancing IT system and Desktop as a Service (DaaS) Solutions to enable more flexible use of at-office and remote working environments, bringing cloud-based collaboration platforms online and/or developing, testing and deploying e-commerce tools, as examples, finding the right tech skills will remain a priority for companies looking to gain the competitive edge in an increasingly digitised business environment over coming months.

Here at Robert Half we continue to help many clients with sourcing and onboarding high-quality IT talent remotely. We have access to a strong network of interim and permanent technology professionals who are ready to help your organisation meet its rapidly changing IT and remote working needs. Contact our IT and technology recruitment experts today to discuss how we can help you to find the right fit.

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