With human error causing nearly two-thirds of all cyber incidents in the past two years, more than 50% of acting cybersecurity professionals admit they made mistakes early in their career due to a lack of theoretical or practical knowledge, a new global study commissioned by Kaspersky has found.

The percentage of respondents acknowledging such mistakes increases to nearly 60% among those with two to five years’ experience in the field. In the Middle East, Turkiye and Africa (META) region 43% of all respondents admit making such mistakes.

According to a recent Kaspersky study over the past two years, organisations have suffered at least one cyber incident due to a lack of qualified cybersecurity staff. While sourcing more qualified cybersecurity staff might be one of the solutions to tackle this problem, businesses worldwide are facing a lack of information security (InfoSec) professionals. According to current estimates, the global cyber-workforce shortfall totals nearly 4-million.

The general cybersecurity skills gap is accompanied by the fact that many new starters in the industry must cope with the gaps in practical and theoretical knowledge, resulting in initial struggles and making errors in their job.

Some of the most common mistakes made by InfoSec professionals in the META region early in their careers turned out to be using weak or guessable passwords (52%), the lack of identity protection implemented (48%), the use of outdated security measures (35%).

Neglecting to perform backups of important data (34%) was also a common mistake cybersecurity experts admitted to having made earlier in their career.

As cybersecurity professionals acknowledge they might not have had the required skillset and hands-on experience when entering the field, some point at additional difficulties with jump-starting their careers.

Despite the cyber industry continuously reporting a workforce gap, 34% of respondents claim to have had three or more failed interviews before being selected for an InfoSec role. In the META region the process is smoother with just 21% saying they needed to undergo interviews more than once or twice.

“It’s no secret that formal training programs often struggle to keep up with industry developments, and that is especially true for the cybersecurity field,” comments Marina Alekseeva, chief human resources officer at Kaspersky. “The fact that many employees in the market might have limited practical skills or gaps in their knowledge underlines the importance of a comprehensive onboarding process with a focus on peer learning and means companies must pay more attention to the upskilling of their employees.:

Initial challenges cybersecurity experts face when they join the industry may explain why nearly half of infosec professionals (46%) globally and one in three (32%) in the META region say that it took them more than a year to feel comfortable in their first cybersecurity roles.

While 31% of respondents managed to get to grips with their job within one or two years, 9% of respondents said the process took them two to three years, and 6% more than three years. In the META region the respective figures are 21%, 7% and 4%.