For over a year I’ve been working with a couple of B2B enterprise software/hardware companies, one in data management and one in network security. The experience has opened my eyes to the immense threat of cybercriminal activity. There are all kinds of cyber threats that IT and network security pros must prevent or mitigate: phishing scams, ransomware, malware, distributed denial of service attacks, and more. Constant vigilance is required, because the threat landscape is always evolving, and hackers are always scheming ways to evade our defenses.

Incidents of data breaches and crashed websites make headlines in the trade press every day and in the mainstream media almost weekly. It’s not just Russia hacking into U.S. political databases; it’s a plague that hits private individuals as well as organizations in every sector and industry, from government to business to higher education.

There are those hackers who are in it for the pure thrill of taking down a website, and others who are in it for the money. Lately, many hackers demand ransom after they encrypt your files, or they steal sensitive data such as credit card info or email addresses that can be sold on the black market (also known as the Dark Web). Others, such as the Anonymous hacking collective, create mayhem through “hacktivism,” crippling websites in the name of political activism.

Obviously, the world needs cyber security professionals to defend against these threats. Unfortunately, experts report there’s an enormous shortage of cyber security professionals worldwide. Although the U.S. generally has top-notch IT security professionals (along with countries like Israel, Ireland, Canada and the UK), the demand far outweighs the short supply. Indeed.com did a study earlier this year that found job seeker interest meets only 66.7% and 68.1% of employer demand in the US and Canada. If you’re hungry for more data points on this topic, check out the this Commonwealth of Massachusetts research, which aggregates more statistics from a variety of sources, and reports that “more than 209,000 cyber security jobs in the U.S. are unfilled.”

I’m not a software engineer, or a cyber security analyst; nor do I have the talent or interest to become one. But I’m grateful that cyber professionals exist, because they are protecting us from some very real threats to our privacy, national security and financial well-being. Until I worked in the cyber security industry I was unaware of the dire need for cyber security professionals. So, if you or someone you know is keen on software engineering or network security, encourage them to become a cyber security professional; we need protection, and there are plenty of jobs in the field.

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