Security

72% of cybersecurity pros say hiring video gamers could fix the IT skills gap

The majority of cyber pros said that gaming teaches skills critical to security, including logic and perseverance, according to a McAfee report.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • 92% of cybersecurity professionals said they believe that gaming affords players experience and skills critical to cybersecurity threat hunting. — McAfee, 2018
  • 78% of cybersecurity professionals say the current generation entering the workforce that grew up playing video games are stronger candidates for cybersecurity roles. — McAfee, 2018

As cybersecurity pros struggle to keep up with evolving threats, one emerging pool of talent may help organizations stay safe: Video gamers.

In a Tuesday report, McAfee and Vanson Bourne surveyed 300 senior security managers and 650 security professionals in organizations worldwide with more than 500 employees. Some 78% of respondents said the current generation entering the cybersecurity workforce, who grew up playing video games, are stronger candidates for cybersecurity roles than traditional hires.

The vast majority of respondents—92%—said they believe that video gaming teaches players skills critical to cybersecurity threat hunting, including logic, perseverance, an understanding of how to approach adversaries, and a fresh outlook, compared to traditional cybersecurity hires. Further, three-quarters of senior managers said they would consider hiring a gamer even if that person had no specific cybersecurity training or experience, the report found.

SEE: Cybersecurity spotlight: The critical labor shortage (Tech Pro Research)

Overall, 72% of cybersecurity pros surveyed said hiring experienced video gamers in the IT department would be a good way to plug the cyber skills gap.

Gamification—or the concept of applying the elements of game playing to non-game activities—is growing as a tool used in cybersecurity, the report noted. Many companies hold gamification exercises like hackathons, red team-blue team, and bug bounty programs, and almost all (96%) who use these techniques report seeing benefits.

More than half (57%) said that using games increases awareness and IT staff knowledge of how breaches can occur, and 43% said gamification enforces a teamwork culture needed for quick, effective cybersecurity practices, according to the report.

Cyber threats remain a major issue for organizations across the globe: 46% of cybersecurity pros said they believe they will either struggle with growing threats or that it will be impossible to keep up with the increasing complexity in the coming year. These professionals also said they need to increase their staff by 24% to adequately manage the threats facing their companies; however, 84% said that it is difficult to attract talent.

"With cybersecurity breaches being the norm for organizations, we have to create a workplace that empowers cybersecurity responders to do their best work," Grant Bourzikas, CISO at McAfee, said in a press release. "Consider that nearly a quarter of respondents say that to do their job well, they need to increase their teams by a quarter, keeping our workforce engaged, educated and satisfied at work is critical to ensuring organizations do not increase complexity in the already high-stakes game against cybercrime."

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Image: iStockphoto/gorodenkoff

About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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