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McAfee finds that gamers are strong candidates for cybersecurity jobs


Above: Gamers may be the key to cybersecurity.  Image Credit: Victrix

To beat cybercriminals, McAfee suggests in a new report that gamers may be the key candidates for cybersecurity jobs.

The Santa Clara, California-based cybersecurity company said it did a survey of 300 senior security managers and 650 security professionals at major corporations. And 78 percent of respondents said that the current generation entering the work force — those that grew up playing video games — are stronger candidates for cybersecurity roles.

The report suggests that gamers, those engaged and immersed in online competitions, may be the logical next step to plugging the skills gap. 92 percent of respondents believe that gaming affords players experience and skills critical to cybersecurity threat hunting: logic, perseverance, an understanding of how to approach adversaries and a fresh outlook compared to traditional cybersecurity hires.

Three-quarters of senior managers say they would consider hiring a gamer even if that person had no specific cybersecurity training or experience. 72 percent of respondents say hiring experienced video gamers into the IT department seems like a good way to plug the cybersecurity skills gap.

The survey also said 46 percent of cybersecurity responders believe they will struggle with or it will be impossible to keep up with increase and complexity of threats they will face in the next 12 months.

Above: Esports teams are getting more brand sponsorships.  Image Credit: Nielsen

Information technology (IT) security staff say they need to increase their security staff by 24 percent to adequately manage their organization’s cyberthreats. But 84 percent say it is difficult to attract talent. And 81 percent of respondents said cybersecurity would be more successful if greater automation were implemented.

“With cybersecurity breaches being the norm for organizations, we have to create a workplace that empowers cybersecurity responders to do their best work,” said Grant Bourzikas, chief information security officer at McAfee, in a statement. “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.”

By pairing human intelligence with automated tasks and putting human-machine teaming in practice, automated programs handle basic security protocols while practitioners have their time freed up to proactively address unknown threats, McAfee said.

A quarter of respondents say that automation frees up time to focus on innovation and value-added work. 32 percent of those not investing in automation say it is due to lack of in-house skills.

Gamification, or the concept of applying elements of game-playing to non-game activities, is growing in importance as a tool to help drive a higher performing  cybersecurity organization. Within organizations that hold gamification exercises, hackathons, capture-the-flag, red team-blue team or bug bounty programs are the most common, and almost all (96 percent) of those that use gamification in the workplace report seeing benefits.

In fact, respondents who report they are extremely satisfied with their jobs are most likely to work for an organization that runs games or competitions multiple times per year.

More than half (57 percent) report that using games increases awareness and IT staff knowledge of how breaches can occur. 43 percent say gamification enforces a teamwork culture needed for quick and effective cybersecurity. 77 percent of senior managers agree that their organization would be safer if they leveraged more gamification.

McAfee finds that gamers are strong candidates for cybersecurity jobs