UK firms OK with hiring hackers to oversee security, new research finds

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Over half of UK businesses would opt to hire an ex-hacker to keep themselves safe from cyber security threats, new research claims.

According to a recent research conducted by one of the ‘Big Four’ professional services firm KPMG, a large number of companies admit they are finding it really tough to look out and retain people with cyber threat confronting skills.

KPMG polled 300 IT and HR professionals at organisations with 500 or more employees to find out how businesses are acquiring cyber skills to prevent cyber-attacks.

Out of those surveyed, nearly three quarters of businesses (74 per cent) said they are facing new cyber security challenges that demand skills that they are lacking, while nearly two thirds (64 per cent) admitted that these skills are different as compared to conventional IT skills.

Around 57 per cent said that it has become more difficult for them to retain staff in specialized cyber skills over the past two years owing to aggressive headhunting.

Looking at the alarming number of cyber threat attacks, some 53 per cent of the respondents admitted that they would consider employing a hacker, while almost the same number of people (52 per cent) said they may even go up to the extent of hiring a hacker even if they had a criminal record.

Serena Gonsalves-Fersch, head of KPMG’s Cyber Security Academy, said it is an eye opening fact that companies are ready to hire even former hackers.

“[Companies] wouldn’t hire pickpockets to be security guards, so the fact that companies are considering former hackers as recruits clearly shows how desperate they are to stay ahead of the game,” she said.

“Rather than relying on hackers to share their secrets, or throwing money at off-the-shelf programmes that quickly become out of date, UK companies need to take stock of their cyber defence capabilities and act on the gaps that are specific to their own security needs. It is important to have the technical expertise, but it is just as important to translate that into the business environment in a language the senior management can understand and respond to.”