The already profound shortage in skilled IT security personnel is expected to increase with the adoption of automation technologies, according to a new report from research firm the Ponemon Institute and threat intelligence provider Domain Tools.

Ponemon surveyed more than 600 U.S.-based security staff and business executives, and 75 percent said their IT security function is typically understaffed and has trouble attracting qualified candidates. Compounding the issue, 76 percent think machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) tools and services aggravate the problem by increasing the need for more highly skilled IT security staff.

“One of the biggest barriers to a strong security posture is attracting and retaining the right people that can deal with complex and serious internal and external threats to the organization,” said Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. “This research reveals that despite the adoption of advanced and automated tools, the skills gap has increased, leaving organizations more vulnerable than ever before.”

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Forty-one percent of organizations said the inability to properly staff security positions has increased investment in cyber automation tools. Yet despite the hype around this technology, only 26 percent of organizations use automation tools as part of IT security. And only 15 percent state that AI is a dependable and trusted security tool for their organization.

Nearly two thirds (53 percent) of respondents said human involvement in security is important in the age of automation, and 60 percent think automation will improve their IT security staff’s ability to do their jobs because it will enable them to focus on more serious vulnerabilities and overall network security.

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