With economic headwinds and a looming recession, more layoffs are looming – if not expected.
However, one sector seems relatively safe for now. In fact, experts say cybersecurity jobs may actually increase during the economic turmoil.
Cybersecurity professionals are vital in mitigating the risks of cyberattacks, especially during times of financial instability, experts told CNBC Make It.
“Some organizations can become more vulnerable during a recession because they have fewer resources… making them an easier target,” said Daljit Sall, general manager of technology at Randstad Singapore.
“Facing a serious cybersecurity breach could prove to be financially disastrous in such a scenario, for example if they have to pay fines or fork.” [out] the cost of a ransomware attack.”
Percentage of companies saying job cuts are ‘very likely’
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But a new study suggests that one talent group is least likely to be laid off should companies decide to reduce headcount.
In ISC2’s survey of 1,000 C-suite executives in five countries – Germany, Japan, Singapore, the UK and the US – nearly half of top executives said they are “very likely” to resort to layoffs due to an expected recession this year.
Only 10% of organizations are likely to cut jobs in cybersecurity, compared to an average of 20% in other areas.
In Singapore, 68% of organizations strongly believe layoffs will be necessary as the economy slows, according to ISC2, a global non-profit organization and the largest association of certified cybersecurity professionals.
Only 15% are likely to cut cybersecurity jobs, compared to other industries such as human resources (32%) and marketing (28%).
The demand for these roles is likely to increase as…the complexity of cyberattacks continues to increase in scale and scope.
Editor-in-Chief APAC, LinkedIn
“The findings indicate that leaders are no longer viewing cybersecurity as a fun feature when budget is available, but rather as an essential, critical asset that adds value,” it added.
Why cybersecurity will weather a recession
LinkedIn’s latest Jobs on the Rise data also includes cybersecurity engineers and cybersecurity consultants as some of the most requested positions in Singapore this year.
Sal agreed. He said there has been an increase in cybersecurity roles in Singapore and globally in recent years due to “digital transformation” in various industries.
“These advancements have led to the need for reliable and experienced cybersecurity professionals to build and maintain secure digital infrastructures,” he added.
The heightened risk of cyber threats is also a major driver of the increased demand for cybersecurity professionals, said Pooja Chhabria, LinkedIn editor-in-chief for Asia Pacific.
The economic uncertainty we face is an absolute gold mine for threat actors.
“The demand for these roles is likely to increase as… the complexity of cyberattacks increases in scale and scope,” she added.
“The need for cybersecurity professionals who can identify and prevent these attacks will become paramount.”
The number of cyber-attacks has exploded in recent years due to pandemic-driven remote working and political concerns.
For example, since the start of the Russo-Ukrainian war, Russian phishing attacks against email addresses of European and American companies have increased eightfold, according to a 2023 report.
Percentage saying workforce in these industries is expected to increase
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“During economic uncertainty, some threat actors may be persuaded to exfiltrate data to increase their income. Insider threats may increase in response to the mass layoffs, especially as financially insecure workers look for new ways to earn extra cash,” said Clar Rosso, ISC2’s DIRECTOR.
This is why 42% of companies surveyed said they expect an increase in cybersecurity workforces – the highest of any business function – despite economic headwinds, ISC2 added.
However, the cybersecurity sector is not immune to headwinds. A November 2022 Citi survey of top tech executives found they expect IT budgets to grow just 1.8% over the next 12 millionOnths — continues a downward trend since the 5.6% in September 2021.
Nevertheless, cybersecurity remains “the top priority by a wide margin” in IT budgets, Citi added.
Opportunities for laid-off technical workers
Tech workers affected by recent layoffs may also benefit from increased cybersecurity prioritization, according to ISC2.
Tech giants Meta, Amazon, Google and Microsoft, along with companies ranging from Salesforce to Zoom, have announced job cuts in recent weeks.
“It is possible that many of those individuals will find an opportunity in pursuing a career in cybersecurity where they can apply related skills and expertise,” said ISC2.
LinkedIn’s Chhabria said software engineers and systems engineers are the two most important roles people take to become cybersecurity engineers.
Hiring managers were also found to have recruited from “unconventional departments” such as customer service, communications and human resources, according to another ISC2 report.
“This is largely due to… the mindset shift from focusing solely on technical skills to adopting non-technical competencies that would make someone successful in the industry, then training to build technical skills,” said Rosso.
Individuals who can work effectively across teams, solve problems, think critically, communicate effectively… will go far in this profession.