Artists Could Solve the Talent Shortage

Tricia A. Howard

It is no secret that we are in the midst of a talent shortage in the cybersecurity industry.  Cybersecurity grew seemingly overnight. These days, we are dealing with that fallout every day. In fairness, we are taking great strides: the Girl Scouts have instituted a cyber security badge, classrooms are starting clubs and curriculum around it, and of course technology has infiltrated just about every aspect of our lives so there is an awareness that we have not previously had.  However, it seems that the talent shortage is increasing every day.

We Need to Deal With the Talent Shortage

While it is exceptional that we are getting young and diverse groups into cybersecurity, there is an unaddressed need that come with these developments. Obviously there are vendors out there who are assisting. In addition, there is constant innovation revolving around the advancement of AI and Machine Learning which helps combat the threats. Unfortunately however, there is still a massive gap that needs to be filled. We need to fill the talent shortage quickly.

While there is not some silver bullet that will magically resolve this issues, there is a group of people we have not traditionally targeted. These are a group of people whom I believe could help immensely in a number of ways.

Artists could be the future of cybersecurity.

Here’s a familiar scenario. You have spent weeks putting tools and policies in place to help streamline your incident response practice. Everything seems to be running along fine, until a new string of malware hits a machine and your EDR misses it. Your IR team has to keep their head, be flexible, and think outside the box while trying to minimize the impact to the end users. Pretty standard. You know who else does that? An actor whose critical prop is missing or broken. A musician who has to transpose their music on the fly because they only have a C horn. A lighting designer whose instrument decides to stop cooperating opening night.


I speak as a person who comes from an artistic background and has made the transition to Cybersecurity. Personally I doubt that I would be here today without the skills I learned in theater. I mean, who would be a better social engineer or red-teamer than an actor? The ability to connect with people, think on their feet, and effectively communicate are some of the common themes that tend to come more naturally to those who are “right brained

Artists are some of the most intelligent, hard-working, and resourceful people out there. They are also a group of people who could play a large part in bridging the talent shortage. Understandably, cybersecurity does have a learning curve. However artists often possess specific and relevant skills that others can not easily learn. These skills can possibly translate into Cyber skills. For example, the great diversity of thought play in acting can translate into the outside of the box thinking found within threat testing or pentesting. Coders speak in binary, artists speak in colors.

Every Potential CSIO Counts

Now to be clear, the suggestion here is by no means that we should be trying to pull artists away from their passion or that getting into security is a “better career path.” We need artists to make this world a more beautiful place. However there are plenty of people who get liberal arts degrees who elect to take a different path in life. Cybersecurity is an option for them to use their skills and creativity in a new light. There is a talent shortage that could very well be ignored by capable artists who wouldn’t even think of this as a career option.

Next time you are at a career fair, stop by the Liberal Arts wing. Who knows, the next CISO of your company could be in that room.

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