The Future of Cybersecurity and Coding’s Role in Getting us There

Over the last six months, the need for reliable and accurate security solutions has grown significantly as businesses have transitioned into remote working environments. Attack surfaces grew as organisations leveraged more devices and networks in order to accomodate to employees working from home, and in turn we’ve seen a rise in cyber threats.

In April alone, Google blocked 18 million daily malware and phishing emails related to Coronavirus when the pandemic initially struck the west, and research estimates that by 2021, cybercrime costs will reach $6 trillion annually. It has been a wake up call for many and security has rightfully become a top priority. As a result, organisations are now searching for the most sophisticated security systems available to implement into their day-to-day operations.

As attention turns to National Coding Week, what has become a highly in-demand skill plays an integral role in developing the solutions that protect against cyber threats. We spoke to six industry experts about the importance of coding – within cybersecurity and about technology development as a whole – and why these skills will be so important for the future.

Coding Through Covid-19

2020 – and more specifically, Covid-19 – has proven to many enterprises across the globe that they need to keep up with the latest technological trends in order to stay relevant within their respective industries. Of course, the role of coding within that is integral.

“When it comes to coding and programming, technical accuracy and creativity marry well together,” explains Svenja de Vos, Chief Technology Officer at Leaseweb Global. “Coders support organisations across various industries from healthcare and manufacturing to cybersecurity. With a notable rise in cyber attacks, exacerbated by the global pandemic, the latter is absolutely vital. Those able to analyse their company’s IT infrastructure for potential vulnerabilities due to their skillset, will be in high demand.

“With various coding platforms and language courses available for both younger and older learners, you can start learning to code at any age. With the digital skills gap growing, it’s crucial that schools and universities support their students in learning to code to help widen future pools of developers.”

Addressing the Skills Gap

While there are plenty of learning tools available for students to begin learning code, De Vos notes that there is still much to be done if we are to solve the STEM skills crisis, a viewpoint shared by Ian Rawlings, Regional Vice President at SumTotal Systems:

“The challenge most businesses are faced with is the growing shortage of skilled IT professionals. Research from Tech Nation has found that vacancies within the UK tech sector have risen by 36% during the summer, after the pandemic first hit, with the skills gap growing significantly.

“Comprehensive training and certification can help IT professionals stay ahead of the changing technology landscape. Coding is a core skill for IT professionals and one that can help any practitioner feel much more confident in their role. To remain competitive, every organisation should prioritise building and developing these skills in their current IT workforce, as well as searching for them in an increasingly scarce talent pool.”

The skills gap across STEM industries in general shows worrying signs for the future, and as companies continue to rely on technology for their long-term success, they of course need the professionals available to keep up with evolving demands for improved software. According to Sam Humphries, Security Strategist at Exabeam, addressing the skills shortage is vital:

“Their unique skillset means employees with coding abilities are now integral personnel in the modern workforce. Access to digital skills is a crucial enabler of digital transformation, fuelling increased demand for people with the skills to manage evolving technologies such as AI and cloud.

“Despite digital skills becoming ever more important in today’s economy, according to the CBI, two thirds of businesses already have unfilled digital skills vacancies and 58 per cent say they’ll need significantly more digital skills in the next five years.”

The Need for More Women in Tech

In 2019, female professionals made up only 16 per cent of the UK STEM workforce, and Humphries explains that by encouraging more women to enter technology driven careers, an entirely new perspective can be found.

“National Coding Week serves as a great way to promote the importance of coding skills for our current and emerging business landscape. It also contributes a fun solution to help encourage young people, especially young women, to pursue a career in technology. Women represent a small percentage of the technology workforce, which makes looking for skills in an all-but untapped female talent pool an obvious solution. By encouraging women and girls with the possibilities of an education and career in technology, we can help address the skills shortage by introducing new perspectives and problem-solving skills to the industry.”

Raif Mehmet, Vice President, EMEA at Bitglass also weighs in on the need for more women in tech, and calls on the industry to further crack down on breaking stereotypes:

“I think there’s still a huge misconception that technical and digital skills are geared towards geeky male gamer-types, and aren’t ‘mainstream’. Having worked in the IT industry for 20 plus years I see first-hand how important these skills are – and how in-demand they continue to be. The IT skills shortage isn’t going away anytime soon so initiatives like National Coding Week are vital to underline that coding is a skill-for-all and to highlight the vast array of potential jobs it can open up, from building websites to curing Covid.”

What Does the Future Look Like?

The need for coding is clear, and as the short term future remains very much foggy for many, Jan van Vliet, Vice President & General Manager, EMEA at Digital Guardian, claims that there lies a fantastic opportunity for professionals to consider learning more about coding:

“Not only is coding a valuable skill in itself, it can be more broadly and positively applied to all walks of life and work. With huge degrees of uncertainty surrounding the economic outlook and employment landscape initiatives like National Coding Week that encourage us to consider learning new skills and broadening our horizons can only be a good thing. It has my full support, and long may it continue and encourage more of us to learn to code.”

Jeff Keyes, Vice President of Products at Plutora, further discusses the sentiment of developing more trained coders as we move away from the height of the pandemic, and explains the importance of delivering a solid foundation for every application:

“If you didn’t realise how much businesses rely on software before the coronavirus pandemic started, you know now. With so many people working remotely, organisations are more dependent than ever on software that keeps the team on the same page and keeps the business operating smoothly. However, none of that can be accomplished without skilled development teams that are supported by strong and fluent coders. Just like a house needs a sturdy foundation upon which to build, an application also needs a solid foundation of well written code from developers.

“Every company–from a fresh-faced startup to a seasoned enterprise–must have a talented team of code writers who can meet the demands of the rapidly-evolving software industry and do so quickly and at scale. Coding has become the language of business, and organisations must be fluent in order to achieve success.”

With cyber threats on the rise and more organisations requiring sophisticated software to help deter external attack vectors, the answer to some of the biggest industry problems may lie within coding. The current skills gap raises questions about the future development of these solutions, but there has never been a greater time to learn how to code.

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