By Tim Brown, Dell Fellow and Executive Director, Security, Dell Software Group, Dell

In a recent post, I noted that diverse skills and backgrounds are required for cybersecurity roles in a future-ready enterprise. And I promised to peel back the onion on the human characteristics that lead to success in these roles, plus explore what we look for across Dell Security. Those posts are forthcoming, but first it’s important to explore what is driving the demand for this new breed of cybersecurity professional.

First, there is a widening of security concerns across industries. Not long ago, top IT security experts worked mostly at big banks and government agencies. But today, everything from small retailers to hospitals to regional school systems need to fill dedicated cybersecurity positions with top-notch talent.

Equally important is the increasingly tumultuous landscape of cybersecurity threats. We know that the convergence of cyber and physical security is creating new vulnerabilities.  And the growth of mobility, cloud and big data is blurring the network perimeter and rendering many traditional security approaches ineffective. Meanwhile, mature, well-funded and ingenious adversaries are increasing the volume, velocity and sophistication of threats.

In order to better protect themselves, organizations are broadening the portfolio of skills and approaches they use to combat the epidemic. They are emphasizing risk assessment, threat mitigation, and predictive analytics along with more traditional security techniques like intrusion detection. And that’s a good thing, because the reactive security approaches of yesterday no longer cut it.

These trends have created an extreme shortage of well-trained cybersecurity talent. Demand for cybersecurity professionals over the past five years grew 3.5 times faster than demand for other IT jobs and about 12 times faster than for all other jobs, according to one recent report. The shortage is a boon to aspiring professionals and a critical challenge to organizations of all sizes.

So how do companies build out their cybersecurity teams in such a competitive climate? Innovation—by both business and their adversaries—is the root cause of the crisis; and innovation will also be the solution. Organizations need to be more creative in their approach to finding, evaluating, and developing talent in the face of this shortage of seasoned cybersecurity pros. For example, hiring people with relevant building blocks—business savvy, a flair for communicating, problem-solving skills and the like—and teaming them in innovative ways.

“So how do companies build out their cybersecurity teams in such a competitive climate? Innovation ... is the root cause of the crisis; and innovation will also be the solution.” - TIM BROWN

By the same token, people looking to become cybersecurity professionals should hone their analytical problem-solving techniques, bone up on business fundamentals and sharpen their communications skills to offer a combination of hard and soft skills to prospective employers. Our own chief security officer at Dell, John McClurg, earned degrees in organizational behavior and philosophy and was a *** before entering the cybersecurity field.

In my next post, I’ll detail why well-rounded, business-savvy professionals can make superior cybersecurity candidates, and how organizations can build strong cybersecurity teams by combining the right skill sets.

What’s the most unlikely resume you’ve seen for a cybersecurity professional?