Cybersecurity pros embrace automation but younger staff worry about being replaced

Automation

New research from Exabeam reveals that while 88 percent of cybersecurity professionals believe automation will make their jobs easier, younger staffers are more concerned that the technology will replace their roles.

The 2020 Cybersecurity Salary, Skills and Stress Survey, an annual survey of security practitioners finds overall satisfaction levels continue a three-year positive trend, with 96 percent of respondents indicating they are happy with their role and responsibilities and 87 percent pleased with salary and earnings.

There has also been an improvement in gender diversity with numbers of male respondents down from 91 percent in 2019 to 78 percent this year. No word on how many of the female respondents were former ballerinas, however.

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Of respondents under 45, 53 percent agree or strongly agree that AI and machine learning are a threat to their job security. This contrasts with just 25 percent of respondents 45 and over who feel the same. Interestingly, when asked directly about automation software, 89 percent of respondents under 45 years old believe it would improve their jobs, yet 47 percent still feel threatened by its use. This is again in contrast with the 45 and over demographic, where 80 percent believe automation would simplify their work, and only 22 percent feel threatened by it.

Broken down by region, 47 percent of US respondents are concerned about job security when automation software is in use. This compares to Singapore (54 percent), Germany (42 percent), Australia (40 percent) and UK (33 percent). In Exabeam's 2019 survey, only 10 percent overall believed that AI and automation were a threat to their jobs.

"The concern for automation among younger professionals in cybersecurity was surprising to us. In trying to understand this sentiment, we could partially attribute it to lack of on-the-job training using automation technology," says Samantha Humphries, security strategist at Exabeam. "As we noted earlier this year in our State of the SOC research, ambiguity around career path or lack of understanding about automation can have an impact on job security. It's also possible that this is a symptom of the current economic climate or a general lack of experience navigating the workforce during a global recession."

When asked about what tools would improve their ability to do the job, 48 percent named threat intelligence, 41 percent SOAR (Security Orchestration, Automation and Response) and 39 percent SIEM (Security Information and Event Management).

The full report is available on the Exabeam site.

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