Despite a growing MSSP sector to fill up IT staffing gaps, the country is grappling with both systemic and individualistic challenges.

Skilled cybersecurity personnel have always been in great demand in India, especially in the last few years. According to some local surveys, 60% of organizations had unfilled cybersecurity positions, and 42% of cybersecurity teams were understaffed.

While large multinational corporations are able to offer lucrative packages to attract talent, the small- and medium-sized firms are not always able to retain skilled cybersecurity personnel. 

According to Rajiv Warrier, a veteran distributor, OEM, channel partner and cybersecurity consultant who has been tracking the country’s cybersecurity challenges: “Cybersecurity has now become part of every growing company, irrespective of the size or industry. There are multiple brands becoming part of the cybersecurity strategies and hence the growing managed security service provider (MSSP) sector. The Security Operations Center (SOC) has now become the goal for every business here. Amid all this the shortage of manpower in the cybersecurity field has been the worry point for all.” 

Warrier noted that while many Indian channel organizations support firms to implement SOC as a service, the scarcity of the right talents in this cybersecurity field has forced them to increase their HR team as well.

“The cybersecurity field is becoming more complicated and sophisticated; hence the growing requirement for resources with the right knowledge in this field. I am sure in India more and more students are getting into the field of cybersecurity and this will certainly benefit all companies and help reduce this scarcity of good human resources in this field. 

Casting wider training nets

One entrepreneur that has been advocating for increasing the pool of skilled cybersecurity professionals in India is Gunasegharan Krishnan, Director, eCaps Computers.

To combat the lack of skilled cybersecurity professionals, Guna and his team have created free training programs for students of cybersecurity and have been continuously engaged with various colleges to send their students. “We are also in touch with students who show an extreme interest in cybersecurity, finding ways to help them make a career, exposure them to the technologies we have around. Along with this, we are also talking to various institutes to include a cybersecurity curriculum or design a special graduate program around cybersecurity,” Guna said.

Another idea in Guna’s mind is to flood every facet of life in India with cybersecurity talk to boost awareness and sensitization. Guna has coined this concept “Cyber Securitization”.

Already, due to the urgency to adopt digitalization amid the global pandemic, cybersecurity talk has started entering the boardrooms of managements, and industry experts are already seeing an increase of more than 10% in their cybersecurity spending for the current year compared to that in 2021. This ‘cyber securitization’ has led to a huge demand for cybersecurity professionals across the globe, and in India it has led to an even higher spend: 57% higher compared to rest of the world. “If only cyber securitization becomes the order of the day across all computerized networks including IoT, the fruits of effective computerization can be effectively harvested,” Guna asserted.

Retaining skilled workers also helps

The biggest challenge every channel partner in India is facing is retaining the skilled employees that are now in demand elsewhere.

According to market sources, many of these employees have been taking advantage of remote-working to moonlight for another firm. This can tire them out and lower their productivity, but their employer stands to lose them if they are not competitive enough against the shadow employer. The smaller firms, especially, are at the losing end in such situations.

One solution proposed by Manish Aggarwal, Aim Technosoft, is for employers to spruce up their sensitivity to the basic needs of these skilled employees: “It is always better to train them and upskill them to ensure that they grow and in turn, the company also grows,” said Manish, who also added that the employers should be prepared for more switchovers by their employees and try to preempt such moves by tapping into various sources of skilled cybersecurity trainees and graduates.

Meanwhile, according to Manoj Tiwari, Managing Director, Rise Tech Software: “To date, there are no authorized courses for cybersecurity in India and thus the specialization had reduced. However, the government has launched a cybersecurity institute (Rashtriya Raksha University) which is likely to play a key role as cybersecurity is now accorded the utmost importance.” 

Tiwari added that once more people graduate from the various avenues of cybersecurity training, the talent shortage in the country will be eased.