Women’s Role in Cybersecurity
The world is rapidly evolving; most organizations are moving towards digitizing their processes. The advantages of a digital world cannot be overemphasized. This is exactly where cybersecurity comes in; valuable data and information need to be protected. Cybersecurity is one of the top-ranked digital industries along with Artificial Intelligence, Internet of things, Mobility, and Big Data.
The daily increase in internet users has created the avenue for cyber-threats. Hacking, Data Privacy, Malware, and spams are ringing topics in the cyber world today. Cyber threats are rising fast, and it needs to be addressed. McAfee, an American global security software company, estimated the damages linked with Cybercrime today to be $400 billion, which increased from $250 billion two years ago1. Researches have also shown that the average data breach damage at any large firm is $22,361. This figure will continue to rise unless sensible measures are taken.
Sometimes, it is very challenging to implement measures to curb malicious activities. Diversity may help to generate effective results but, unfortunately, the industry is lacking diversity. Due to the shortage of cybersecurity professionals, it is more important than before for women to help fill the gap. Women have gone a long way to prove their capability in their workplace. The world’s ideology of relegating women has largely changed. There have already been several changes in the security industry due to contributions from women over the years.
Why are women so few in Cybersecurity?
In a 2017 white paper, Frost and Sullivan said “As the workforce gap in cybersecurity continues to increase, the percentage of cybersecurity professionals that are women will remain at 11%. In the U.S. Cybersecurity industry, women hold only 14% of the workforce2.
Women have faced several challenges seeking a career in the security industry such as lack of role models, gender bias in the workplace, perception about challenges for women serving in a leadership position, unbalanced pay for similar skills, lower career opportunities as compared to men, and so on. These challenges likely have led to a shortage of professionals in this space.
The industry clearly needs to make sure that women are equally represented and treated in the workforce. Studies have proved that women desire mentors and role models for career development and networking.
It is important to discuss why it matters for women to be involved. The aim is not to increase the percentage for the sake of larger numbers, rather, their perspectives, experience, and leadership are important to successfully counter the cyber threats we are currently facing.
The time is right
Cybercrimes are so prevalent that they can no longer be ignored. In the year 2018, Dixons Carphone affirmed that more than 10 million of their users were affected due to the Cyber breach of their data records (Carphone, 2019)3. Companies are spending huge amounts annually to safeguard their information. According to the research carried out by the National Cyber Security Alliances, approximately 60% of small-scale businesses close up within six months because of a data breach4. Increasingly, using a private email service becomes critical. The cybersecurity industry is poised to expand in the future with the increasing need for security. The time is now, and the cybersecurity industry needs to act fast.
The industry is projected to double by 2020. According to research carried out by the Cybersecurity Ventures, there will be 3.5 million available jobs in the cybersecurity industry in the year 20215. This is a great opportunity for women. As long as we use the internet, the industry will continue to expand and provide great career opportunities that will offer women a platform for development and growth.
The perception is changing gradually; women are making their way to professions people believed was originally designed for men. In both government and private industry, the percentage of women in security is increasing in the workforce. The role women have to play cannot be overemphasized.
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