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03:05 PM
Steve Zurier
Steve Zurier
Edge Features
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The Hidden Costs of Losing Security Talent

One person's exit can set off a chain of costly events.

Companies know that security talent costs money and good people are hard to find. But what they don't always consider are the hidden costs of losing an experienced security analyst.

According to Simone Petrella, founder and CEO of online training firm CyberVista, an experienced security analyst commands an average annual salary of about $100,000. And when that analyst leaves a company, it typically takes eight months to replace that person and almost four months to train a replacement.

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That's nearly a full year of productivity lost, she says. Then it's always possible the company could lose a second employee because that person became overloaded while the new hire was getting up to speed.

"We recommend that companies invest in their existing people," Petrella says. "They understand your institutional priorities, what the company is trying to accomplish. Most companies haven't really tapped into the people who have been furloughed or laid off from other industries because of the pandemic, and while that has some untapped potential, [companies can] grow existing people through developing skills and retooling them."

According to the US Department of Labor, a bad hire costs at least 30% of the employee's first-year earnings. For a security analyst, that's $27,000-plus, according to the SANS Institute.  

Ryan Corey, co-founder and CEO of online training site Cybrary, says companies also lose money on staffing when they don't chart a clear career path for their employees.

"Every cyber professional has recruiters calling them all the time. That's just the way it is because there are not enough people to fill the available jobs," he says. "When people feel boxed in, they will leave. They have to know what the path is to the next level."

Another issue: Companies don't handle diversity well, adds Ron Gula, a board member at Cybrary.

"By diversity I mean diversity in employment backgrounds," he says. "Companies may want to hire a pen tester because they have security experience, but they should also be looking for people who have experience in accounting, a legal department, or other types of jobs."

Finally, companies don't fund cyber departments well enough, either, Gula says.  

"Too often there's a lack of leadership, funding, and a vision for what the department could be," he says. "Sometimes they outsource and have a bad experience and then move forward with a skeleton crew."  

CyberVista's Petrella says she works with companies on developing their recruiting and retention strategies, as well as how to upskill the people they recruit.

"Companies have to 'own' the strategy or else it won't work," Petrella says. "The top cutting-edge companies are thinking this way, but most companies don't know what they have and don't have job descriptions clearly defined."


Steve Zurier has more than 30 years of journalism and publishing experience and has covered networking, security, and IT as a writer and editor since 1992. Steve is based in Columbia, Md. View Full Bio

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User Rank: Apprentice
9/3/2020 | 9:11:02 PM
Not substantive, salary figure too high, obvi conclusions
In the mid 2000's I took two HR oriented classes in my MBA program. Nearly all of the points made here were made back then. 

It is well known:  whenever a skilled staff member leaves there are real costs to locating a replacement and training a replacement. Nothing new in this article on that front. 

Listening to Twitter and another large closed info-sec email list, I'd say that the issues are more that there is a security skills shortage, little incentive to build secure systems, and a low/poor management committment to building securely coded solutions. Skill shortages are solvable by educating internal staff and then incentivizing them to do the right thing, security wise. Microsoft has proven this, as have other large firms. Something like 10-15 years ago they started making people actually be responsible for secure code. 

The issue is that Sr Mgmt (C-X-O and A-VP and above) behave in a manner that protects their bonues because they are preassured by the market to "get it done and get it out", not "get it out, stable, and secure."  Until the rest of the Fortune 1000 and Global 2K follow what MSFT did we will continue to battle. 

Further - it is *well known* that money is reason #5 on the list. People fire managers, or companies long before dollars. 

I have 15 years of sec-exp - most of the calls I get are temp 3-6 month short term at a pay rate around 60 - 80. Of the past 30 calls / inquiries in the past 60 days, only 3 were for positions equivalent to what I have on my resume - Director and above. The rest were not. Matter of fact, the best three interviews I've had in the past year came from personal 1:1 relationships.

I dropeed over 100 resumes where the PD/JD clearly matched up to the keywords in the article - I get maybe 10% engagement.

Go and listen to people applying for pen test jobs - people with a SANS certification or in some cases the OSCP. Employers run them through actual "hack this" tests, multiple times. I know a few who had to do 4 test events.  It will run people ragged, esp. when the offers comes in a 50k-60k yr., in midwest metro markets. 

User Rank: Apprentice
9/3/2020 | 12:39:59 PM
Lots of obvious conclusions here. 

Not a lot of solutions for the current economic climate. Yes, its nice to have a charted career path, but reality is much different. 

As a leader of a streamlined operation, how will you respond when ANY team member comes up and says "I can't see my future here. What does my career path look like?"
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