For 20 years, between 1994 and 2014, the world could enjoy the limitless capabilities of the internet with barely any concern. The convenience of the web, to include online communication and commerce, allowed it to grow into the fundamental resource we know and love. Yet, all this time, barely noticeable to the average internet user, danger has been brewing just below the surface, and within the past couple years, cyber threats have begun to rear their ugly heads.
Fortunately, one small industry has risen to the challenge. Cybersecurity professionals have quietly been competing in an arms race with cyber attackers since the web began, and the general public is just beginning to recognize their full value. In fact, cybersecurity is predicted to become so vital to business and personal web use in the coming years that it may just be the perfect industry for the budding entrepreneur.
The Meteoric Rise of Cybersecurity
Though 2004 doesn’t seem so long ago, in terms of digital development, it was as distant as the dark ages. Back then, the entire cybersecurity market was valued at just $3.5 billion; for comparison, that is the current estimated value of Yelp, which is but a single company. However, just over 10 years later, cybersecurity was revalued at $78 billion, and most experts expect even that number to balloon to $175 billion by next year.
Most experts point to the rise of the internet as the cause for the rise in cybersecurity. Every new web user presents a potential treat, and because the numbers of web users have increased exponentially since the beginning of the millennium, the potential risk of operating online has also grown. These days, without the proper security software, any device can fall victim to attacks, which will not only debilitate the device but pilfer private information like personal identification numbers and financial accounts.
Furthermore, cyber threats present a significant defense issue since anyone can obtain malware programs and worse and then launch an attack against an individual, business, or nation. In fact, many experts foresee a technological shift away from physical weapons and toward virtual ones ― as well as the construction of a cybersecurity industrial complex to rival our current military industrial complex. Already, the number of cybersecurity lobbyists in Washington, D.C., has jumped from four to over 1,500, demonstrating that there is plenty of money to be made in cybersecurity.
Increased Need for Security Professionals
Whether or not a cybersecurity industrial complex does develop, it seems certain that the need for cybersecurity professionals will increase in the coming years. In fact, Chris Bronk, a noted professor of computer and information systems, has been quoted saying, “It wouldn’t shock me if it doubled in size in the next 10 years… I’d say doubling in the next five to 10 years is a conservative estimate.”
At the start of 2016, more than 200,000 cybersecurity positions were unfilled. Throughout the year, that number blossomed into 1 million job openings in the field, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that significant opportunity should only increase by a whopping 53 percent by 2018. Considering the average growth rate for all jobs is hovering around seven percent, it’s not difficult to see that cybersecurity is booming, and entrepreneurs with the right qualifications are primed to excel.
How to Start a Cybersecurity Firm
Because cybersecurity is expanding at an exciting rate, most entrepreneurs can gain sufficient financial backing from eager venture capitalists, but more important than the money is the cybersecurity talent that provides the services customers so desperately crave. Firms must consider their own security as well as that of their clients, and juggling those responsibilities is difficult for new or untrained tech professionals. Unfortunately, cybersecurity experts are in high demand ― consider the quantity of unfilled positions ― which means startups will need to offer amazing incentives to assemble an effective team.
Aside from the difficulties of the hiring process, cybersecurity businesses require excellent planning and structure, like any company in any industry. Therefore, entrepreneurs with business-building experience are more likely to excel in this increasingly competitive market. However, given the right plan, there is plenty of opportunity for success in this explosive field.