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Global pandemic was good for business, say UK infosec pros – but we’re still burning out

The COVID-19 pandemic was good for business, according to British infosec workers – although half of them still say they feel burnt out amid the surge in work.

Two-thirds of the 557 cybersecurity professionals surveyed by the Chartered Institute of Information Security (CIISec) said they thought the last couple of years had been good for the local infosec market.

In the membership body’s State of the Profession report, nearly 70 per cent of respondents said they thought risks to data had increased as a result of working-from-home policies, while two-thirds agreed with the suggestion that security reviews and audits had become harder as a result of pandemic-enforced WFH.

Amanda Finch, CEO of CIISec, said in a statement: “The move to remote working has not only made processes harder to manage and data harder to secure, but has been accompanied by a huge rise in threats and attacks. Adding to this, the survey shows a lack of career opportunity was one of the top sources of stress.”

Such findings aren’t wholly new. Earlier this year IBM reckoned security breaches involving a WFH element were costlier than the average breach. Five years ago a US conference suggested removing humans from infosec as a means of improving security.

While increased awareness of security and increased spending on infosec as a result of global WFH policies were good things in the eyes of CIISec’s respondents, 66 per cent said the resulting cancellation of training events had contributed to a professional skills gap.

Just under half of those surveyed reported working for more than 41 hours a week, with a small number saying they were racking up 90 hours for their employers during the 168 hours available in a seven-day period.

Surprisingly, half (54 per cent) said they enjoyed a better work-life balance in the pandemic era thanks to WFH, though a similar number also said the stress of the job was keeping them awake at night. This may be related to a talk at Black Hat 2018, where a 17-year industry veteran warned that the profession had driven him to drink.

“It’s clear the industry needs to do more to highlight the opportunities that are available, and what skillsets and knowledge security professionals need to move to the next level on their chosen career path,” continued Finch. “Without this, the industry will struggle to recruit and retain talent, only widening the skills gap.”

Of the 557 respondents, 81 per cent said they were men, with 17 per cent reporting they were women.

“While this is an improvement over 2020’s 90 per cent men / 10 percent women, there is still much work to be done to close the gap,” said CIISec. According to the 2011 UK census, women and girls make up 51 per cent of the population.* ®

*2021’s census data has not yet been fully processed, according to the Office for National Statistics.