With economic headwinds and a looming recession, more layoffs are imminent — if not expected.

However, one sector appears to be relatively safe – for now. In fact, experts say cybersecurity jobs may even increase during the economic turmoil.

Cybersecurity professionals are critical to reducing the risks of cyberattacks, especially in times of financial instability, experts said CNBC does.

“Some organizations may become more vulnerable during a recession because they may have fewer resources … making them an easier target,” said Daljit Sall, Chief Technology Officer of Randstad Singapore.

“Facing a serious cyber security breach could prove financially devastating in such a scenario – for example, if they have to pay fines or pay (off) the costs of a ransomware attack.”

Percentage of companies that say there will be “very likely” layoffs

Country % of respondents
Singapore 68
Japanese 42
USA 51
UK 40
Germany 29

Source: ISC2

But a new survey suggests that a talent pool is the least likely to be laid off if companies decide to downsize.

IN ISC2’s research among 1,000 C-suite executives in five countries – Germany, Japan, Singapore, the UK and the US – nearly half of top executives said they were “very likely” to take layoffs due to an expected recession this year.

But only 10% of organizations are likely to cut cybersecurity jobs, compared to an average of 20% in other areas.

In Singapore, 68% of organizations strongly believe layoffs will be necessary as the economy slows, says ISC2, a global nonprofit and largest association of certified cybersecurity professionals.

But only 15% are likely to cut cybersecurity jobs, compared to other sectors such as human resources (32%) and marketing (28%).

Demand for these roles is likely to increase as … the complexity of cyber-attacks intensifies in scale and scope.

Pooja Chhabria

APAC Head of Editorial, LinkedIn

“The findings indicate that leaders no longer see cybersecurity as a nice-to-have feature when the budget is available, but rather an important, critical asset that delivers value,” it added.

Why cybersecurity will weather a recession

LinkedIn’s latest jobs coming up the data also included cybersecurity engineers and cybersecurity consultants as some of the most in-demand roles in Singapore this year.

Sal agreed. He said there has been an increase in cyber security roles in Singapore and globally in recent years due to “digital transformation” in various industries.

“These advances have driven the need for trusted and experienced cybersecurity professionals to build and maintain secure digital infrastructures,” he added.

The increased risk of cyber threats is also a major contributor to higher demand for cybersecurity professionals, said Pooja Chhabria, LinkedIn’s director of editorial for Asia-Pacific.

The economic uncertainty we face is an absolute goldmine for threat actors.

“Demand for these roles is likely to increase as … the complexity of cyber attacks intensifies in scale and scope,” she added.

“The need for cybersecurity professionals who can identify and prevent these attacks will be critical.”

The number of cyber attacks has increased in recent years due to pandemic-driven remote work and political issues.

For example, since the start of the war between Russia and Ukraine, Russian-based phishing attacks against email addresses of European and US-based companies have increased by 8 times, according to a 2023 report.

Proportion that says staffing is expected to increase in these sectors

Sectors % of respondents
Cyber ​​security 42%
Finance 27%
Personnel department 25%
Marketing 28%
Sale 28%

Source: ISC2

“During economic uncertainty, some threat actors may be persuaded to exfiltrate data to increase their income. Insider threats may increase in response to the mass layoffs, especially as financially insecure employees look for new ways to make extra money,” said Clar Rosso, ISC2 CEO.

That’s why 42% of companies surveyed said they expect an increase in cybersecurity workforce – the highest of any business function – despite economic headwinds, ISC2 added.

However, it is the cyber security sector not immune to headwinds. A November 2022 Citi Top Tech Survey revealed that they expect IT budgets to grow by only 1.8% over the next 12 millionOnths — continues a downtrend since September 2021’s 5.6%.

Nonetheless, cyber security remains the “top priority by a wide margin” in IT budgets, Citi added.

Opportunities for laid-off technicians

Technology workers affected by the recent layoffs may also benefit from increased prioritization of cybersecurity, ISC2 said.

Tech giants Meta, Amazon, Google and Microsoftalong with companies ranging from Salesforce to Zoomhave notified cuts in recent weeks.

“It is possible that many of these individuals may find an opportunity to pursue a career in cyber security, where they can apply related skills and expertise,” says ISC2.

LinkedIn’s Chhabria said that software engineers and systems engineers are the top two roles that people have transitioned from to become cybersecurity engineers.

Hiring managers were also found to have recruited from “unconventional departments”, according to another ISC2 reportsuch as customer service, communication and human resources.

“This is largely due to … the shift in mindset from focusing solely on technical skills to hiring for non-technical skills that would make someone successful in the industry, and then training to build technical skills,” Rosso said.

Individuals who can collaborate effectively with diverse teams, solve problems, think critically, communicate effectively…will go far in this profession.