The threats from hacking and data theft have been evolving at a rapid rate in recent years. Cyber attacks in the shape of DDOS attacks, ransomware and phishing scams have caused massive disruptions in the life of businesses and individuals alike. Bank accounts, personal information and proprietary data have all been falling victim to hackers at an increasing rate. In fact, the Pew Research Center estimates that over 64% of Americans have experienced some sort of data breach. Companies and government authorities have responded to this challenge with a massive increase in cyber security investments. Businesses, professionals and potential candidates in the cyber security market should keep a close watch on the evolution of investments in this field because they’re directly related to job growth and increased business opportunities. Here are some important trends to be aware of if you’re interested in investing, attracting capital or finding a job in cyber security.

 

Government Investments in Cyber Security

In response to the growing cyber threat, the Cybersecurity Act was passed by Congress in 2015. This piece of legislation makes it easier for the Government and private companies to share information related to cyber threats. In 2016, this was followed up by the implementation of the Cybersecurity National Action Plan, designed to enhance the digital security of all Americans. Estimates on total government spending on cyber security vary. Possibly the most ambitious calculation comes from the NGO Taxpayers for Common Sense, which reckons that federal government spending on cyber security has increased from $7.5 billion to $28 billion per year between 2007 and 2016. According to the Statista portal, proposed direct federal spending for the 2018 fiscal year is slightly higher than $3.5 billion. In addition to investing in technological development, the government has also been investing heavily in education. A great example is the CyberCorp: Scholarship for Service program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation. CyberCorp’s goal is to boost the cyber security skills of civil servants. Participating undergrads receive a $22,500 stipend, with graduate students being awarded as much as $34,000. These awards are very much in line with grants given to PhD researchers at major universities in the United States, which shows how serious the Government is when it comes to attracting and nurturing top cyber security talent. Other high-powered centers of excellence have been established specifically to face down cyber threats as they emerge. Among these we can count the National Cyber Security and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber Crimes Center. As cyber threats and the vibrant market that they fuel continue to grow, so will cooperation between the private sector, academia and federal or state governments.

 

Cyber Security and the Private Sector

In 2016, venture capital companies invested $3.1 billion in around 300 cyber security startups. Top cyber companies like Tanium and Lookout have managed to raise $395 and $281 million, respectively. Big banks have begun offering financial products specifically geared towards cyber security investors, like the Prime Cyber Security ETF and First Trust Nasdaq Cybersecurity ETF. Another interesting trend sees more and more investors coming to the conclusion that the decentralization of big data storage provided by blockchain technologies is a great way to keep information safe from hackers, while limiting the damage caused by malicious insiders. Companies that can incorporate this technology as an integral part of their business models have been richly rewarded with an increasing number of both clients and investors. In response to the call made by the Cybersecurity Act, academic leaders in cyber security research, such as the University of Texas at San Antonio, have been looking to promote cooperation between universities, private firms and government agencies through programs like the National Security Collaboration Center. Joint-ventures have sprung up to replace competition with collaboration in certain areas where interests coincide, and big companies with globally recognized brands like Volkswagen and Raytheon have been pouring vast sums of money into partnerships that seek to maximize the digital safety of their organizations.

 

Growing Threats, Increased Opportunities

All in all, the cyber security market is projected to grow between 12 and 15% per year between 2017 and 2021, with total investments expected to surpass the $1 trillion mark for this period. Whether you’re looking to find your dream job in cyber security or grow your business in this field, the boom in spending and investments means that a lack of opportunity is one obstacle you won’t have to face.