Criminal Record Checks for Cybersecurity Professionals

By  //  June 17, 2021

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Obtaining work in the IT professional as a whole means entering a very competitive marketplace; for the specialism of cybersecurity, this competition is even stiffer. This is because the rewards can be especially high in this branch of the IT profession.

If digital technology can be said to be vital in most aspects of modern life, making systems safe from attack is therefore of the utmost importance. 

Organizations spending big money on IT systems will be wasting their investment if these fail to work; not only that, cyber attacks can actively destroy reputations and businesses, sometimes overnight.

In this context, cybersecurity is one of the leading fields of recruitment in the global economy. By its very nature, of course, this work is extremely sensitive and requires the most trustworthy of staff, which means robust police checks wherever the job location. 

The High Cost of Cyber Attacks 

The latest figures, obtained by leading financial researchers, show the true cost of cyber attacks on the global economy. In the last year, the “bottom line” cost was approximately 6 trillion US dollars. As a comparison, that figure is more than the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Japan, the world’s third richest economy.

The result of either direct theft from bank accounts, hidden programs which go unnoticed for months at a time, or in some cases ransom attacks, even this colossal figure is set to grow in the short to medium term. 

In the corporate sector, threats like phishing emails can cause devastation if an employee is coerced or fooled into accessing sensitive information and passing it on. Luckily, mechanisms like Privileged Access Management (PAM) can help prevent this from happening.

Organized criminals and some nation states view cyber crime as the most attractive enterprise of all for many reasons. One of the mains ones is the invisible nature of these attacks.

With the seemingly endless series of links and cut outs, the original source of cyber attacks are very hard to trace; and even when this has been achieved, these types of crimes are the easiest to deny. 

Recruitment of Cybersecurity Experts 

In many ways, private enterprise and public institutions are playing catchup with the issue of cyber crime. Even countries like the UK have been victims of cyber attacks, with one ransomware hack crippling the country’s world famous National Health Service in 2017.

This particular attack put the health and personal data security of millions of people at risk, and led the British government to undertake a wholescale review of the country’s public IT security procedures. Meanwhile, McDonald’s is one of the most recent private enterprises to suffer a data breach; the fact is that these are becoming quite regular occurrences.

As companies and public bodies wake up to the threat facing them from cyber crime, recruitment is consequently also booming. In fact, the New York Times recently reported that there will be 3.5 million job vacancies in this sphere in 2021.

To put it another way, the unemployment rate in cybersecurity is zero. For the right people with the right police checks, cybersecurity is an extremely attractive career option.

Criminal Record Checks for Cybersecurity Workers 

The situation regarding police checks for workers in cybersecurity is not straightforward. Because demand is so high, the right qualifications and/or experience will be enough to make employment in some institutions very straightforward. Unlike traditional professions, this is both a relatively new field for recruiters, and something which employers often outsource.

Whereas there are clear guidelines for employment in most fields on government websites, cybersecurity can often fall between a number of professions.

In some ways, this can make it easier to find work in this field; for instance, there is nothing to say that any particular job will require a Basic or Standard level check in the UK’s Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) scheme.

On the other hand, employers and recruiters will feel free to request Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks to suit themselves. As of yet, there is no government legislation to say what questions a cybersecurity employee should or should not have to answer. 

Brexit and Cybersecurity Recruitment 

Already evident since the advent of Brexit has been a shortage of suitable recruits in the UK’s cybersecurity sector. The country was already a net importer of suitable talent in the area, and that situation has now become something of an emergency.

Employers are looking more and more to British universities to find skilled staff, and finding the task difficult. This is having the effect of increasing wage inflation, while not necessarily addressing the problem of filling empty posts.

Against this background, there is anecdotal evidence that police checks for UK nationals are sometimes being overlooked in order to employ candidates with at least the basic level of necessary skills.

Cybersecurity After the Covid Crisis 

One of the lasting effects of lockdown during the coronavirus crisis will be that of working from home. Regardless of companies’ changing policies on returning to the office, the fact is that many thousands of people have already exposed themselves – and possibly their employers – to cybersecurity vulnerability whilst working remotely.

The initial speed with which lockdown was introduced, and the consequent need for home working, has set in motion issues which may take years to unravel.

Very few employers took adequate steps to train their staff in cybersecurity. Recruitment, meanwhile, continued to rise in many IT fields due to the ease with which many of these jobs can be carried out remotely.

The combination of both has meant that police checks, such as they were, have become something of an irrelevance. What this will mean for the future of the UK’s cybersecurity, only time will tell. 

ACRO Checks and Cybersecurity Employment 

As a portable, ready to go security standard, the ACRO police check CRBDirect  provide is simple and quick to obtain. Cybersecurity is probably the world’s biggest growth industry, and UK nationals with the right education are in an enviable position to take their skills anywhere.

As levels of disclosure remain unresolved, gaining cybersecurity work in a particular country could be easier in 2021 than ever before; this may in turn allow residency status in economies which offer serious long term attractions