The home of Silicon Valley and an intrinsic destination for technology dreams to be turned into reality, the US has undoubtedly established itself a hub for international professionals seeking opportunity, not least in the tech industry and cybersecurity sector. However, with President Trump’s executive order of 18 April 2017 looking to threaten the access between foreign workers and US companies who rely upon the H-1B visa program, the already minimal pool of cybersecurity talent could become ever more meagre.
The tech industry have hit back at the Presidential order, with over 160 companies signing a brief that argues the need for immigration to enable the growth of both America’s innovation and economy. While admittedly the current H-1B visa process could benefit from some worthy reforms, many believe those reforms should be targeting the 85,000 cap as opposed to restricting the visas of certain applicants. Creating limitations on who US companies can hire in order to fill the 1000s of cybersecurity jobs awaiting the appropriately skilled professionals will only cause disruption and expense for those businesses. Not to mention inhibiting necessary investment to the US that comes with attracting foreign talent and business.
The silver lining however, which of course must appear on any dark cloud, points to a redirection of apathetic Americans reluctant to pledge their career paths to the IT and tech industry for fear of being replaced by foreign counterparts. IT professionals looking for cybersecurity jobs in the US can look at those opportunities with a greater sense of security themselves, not to mention with the potential for higher salaries as the competition with foreign cybersecurity experts wanes. However, Trump and his administration need to recognise that in regulating the flow of external talent to US shores there comes a need for the right policy to enable Americans to upskill and train in order to meet the requirements of companies who need specific cybersecurity expertise now.
US businesses are looking for cybersecurity professionals who possess a deep knowledge of business risk as well as extensive technical prowess and niche security expertise. There is a particular focus on network security specialists currently as organisations acknowledge the need to turn their attention from the cloud to the sensitive data being stored behind network firewalls.
Though cloud technology remains an area of demand when it comes to jobs in cybersecurity, together with niche areas such as Big Data, advanced analytics and mobile technology. In fact, the transition to the cloud and subsequent threats it has generated has caused a shift in skill requirements for those seeking jobs in the tech and cybersecurity sectors which in turn has only exacerbated the existing skills shortage.
The roles of security analyst and security manager are high on the hot list for professionals looking for opportunities in cybersecurity, with an emphasis on large healthcare organisations, the retail sector, financial services and global manufacturing firms stepping up their hiring quota to boost their cybersecurity defence. Candidates with a CISM or CISSP on their resume are most likely to be considered for these roles.
Fundamentally, businesses are looking for candidates with both an aptitude for the technical side of cybersecurity and the side that assesses user need; that is able to communicate effectively with non-IT departments and the board to educate employees on risk and that can see how to advocate equally for the needs of both security and the business itself.