Despite the National Cyber Security Centre predicting an increase in significant attacks on government security (those that demand a cross-Government response), public sector institutions across the UK are still relying on a near-skeleton crew of security analysts, according to Freedom of Information requests from Huntsman Security. In particular:
- The Scottish Prison Service and Scottish Public Pensions Agency both reported having no full-time security analysts
- The Northern Irish Assembly has just two security analysts
- Other Government departments report almost no increase in the number of security analysts employed in the last few years
As attacks increase across Government as they do elsewhere, there is a growing risk that these workers will become overwhelmed by the number of threats they have to address: increasing the risk of, a successful attack at worst, or the stress levels and risk of burn out of overworked security analysts. The consequences of a successful attack on the government could be severe, such as the leaking of sensitive personal information or ongoing legislation or leaving high-profile individuals and departments open to being blackmailed.
“This picture is symptomatic of a worldwide problem: the frequency, severity and sophistication of attacks is growing faster than organisations can keep up,” said Piers Wilson, Huntsman security.
“ISACA predicts a global shortage of two million cybersecurity jobs by 2019, which will compound the issues facing organisations and their analysts. As organisations come under great cyber pressure from adversaries and their analysts become more and more stretched, the risk of a spiralling increase of successful attacks is likely.
“The consequences of a successful breach of Government and other organisations are severe, so they need to limit any likely deficiencies in their cyber security protection by better supporting the analysts that protect them.”
New technology and training
Wilson continued by adding: “Of course, austerity remains a consideration but the cost of addressing any loss of information as a result of a successful attack far outweighs the investment in more skilled security processes now. If organisations cannot find or afford the right staff, they need to find alternative ways to address this growing problem.
“It also means investing in new technology (e.g. automation and machine learning) to relieve overworked analysts and commission third-party service providers to assist (e.g. MSSPs who can take charge of the front line) and in training.
“These investments are worth making because industry figures now suggest a deterioration in the time taken to discover a cyber breach in the last 12 months. The costs of a successful breach, its clean up and return to business as usual ensures a positive ROI for a greater investment in enhanced cyber security technology and resources.”
 FireEye M-Trends 2018