Cybersecurity Recruitment ‘Needs To Diversify’

There needs to be more diversity in the cybersecurity sector in order to represent a greater number of people.

According to the Aspen Institute’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Cybersecurity report, only four per cent of employees in the sector in the US are Hispanic, nine per cent are black and 24 per cent are women.

It stated the efforts to diversify the industry “have not addressed the overwhelming whiteness and male-ness of the cybersecurity field.

This is despite there being 2.7 million vacancies in cybersecurity across the world last year, the Cybersecurity Workforce Study 2021 revealed.

As demand for this sector is rapidly growing, its current workforce of 4.2 million people needs to expand by 65 per cent, just to keep up with this demand.

According to the Aspen Institute’s report, there are several steps that businesses can take to close this skills gap. For instance, they could “take a hard look at their internal policies to evaluate how they can better recruit, retain and support diverse cybersecurity practitioners”.

It also suggested working with other organisations to share valuable resources so they can improve their practices together and adopt a workforce that is “welcoming and inclusive to  all”.

By using our pre-employment screening services, employers can make sure they can obtain accurate information about candidates. This gives you an understanding of the person you’re hiring and reduces the risk of having any cyber security issues. Building a bespoke package that works for you can include their qualifications, right to work in the UK, and identity verification.

Being able to look closely at their work history and previous references could enable you to make the correct hiring decision for the security of your business.

Should You Screen Applicants Social Media?

Love it or loathe it, social media has become an intrinsic part of our daily lives and transformed how we communicate with each other, and it has also changed the world of recruitment and talent acquisition.

An incredible amount of data can be learned from candidates’ social media platforms, and it can be a temptation for employers to check sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to vet them before hiring. Even the current crop of Love Island contestants have had their social media vetted, according to The Metro.

Social media searches can provide employers with a deeper insight into a candidate they may not get from a CV or interview, but there are some significant risks if these checks are not carried out as part of the formal screening process, and hiring decisions are made using information you are not permitted to use.

A 2018 CareerBuilder survey revealed that 70 per cent of employers use social networks to research candidates during the hiring process and half of those admitted to not employing an applicant based on what they found there.

A report in 2018 stated that 60 per cent of businesses claim not to carry out any social media checks as part of the formal process, which suggests that there are many hiring managers checking candidates social media ‘unofficially’.

If this is correct, then employers need to be careful, as social media searches need to be compliant with discrimination and privacy laws.

There are risks that hiring managers could be making recruitment decisions based on social media checks that are subject to conscious and subconscious bias.

It’s therefore vital that all hiring managers are made aware of what information they can draw on when checking social media networks during the recruitment process, and decisions are based on information found that is revenant to the job role.

HR should also make sure managers are aware of the risks around protected characteristics and sensitive personal data, and have received training on relevant legislation such as the Equality Act and the GDPR.

It is recommended that employers have policies developed on the use of social media in recruitment, and robust equal opportunity and anti-discrimination policies will help reduce any risks.

Candidates should also be informed that a search of social media may be conducted on all applicants before an interview, and their permission obtained, making them aware so they can decide for themselves if they wish to be private or public on their social profiles.

It is important to remember that if a candidate has a social media platform, it was not created for their employers, even if it is public and part of the public domain, and they may not have given permission for it to be used as part of the recruitment process.

Ensure you are clear on the purpose for carrying out social media screening, and that you have a rationale for doing it. Consider what is important to you as an employer and the characteristics that are important to you for the job role.

Using Open Source intelligence techniques (OSINT), Agenda Screening Services uncover the valuable information you need from your candidates online digital footprint, we analyse social media, news, blogs, and publications – without being intrusive.


If you’re interested in outsourcing background checks, then come and speak to us today.

Enquiry Calls For Police Records Replacement

An independent report has called on the government to urgently replace the Police National Computer (PNC), following a major incident in January in which an engineer accidentally deleted the records of 209,550 offences.

The PNC was set up 47 years ago and is used for employee criminal background check services, but the incident created a situation in which many candidates might have been able to take up job offers because their criminal records were removed from the database. Fortunately, the records, including arrest details, fingerprints and DNA data, have all been recovered.

Leading the enquiry, former chief of the Metropolitan Police Lord Hogan-Howe concluded that the “critical incident” was caused by a combination of “human error” and management-level failings.

However, much of the focus has been on the computer itself. Set up in 1974, it may have been state-of-the art in its time, but the need for a replacement was already evident. Indeed, the government does have plans in place to do this, but the new system is expected to take two years to emerge.

According to the report, this change needs to happen sooner. It has called for the Home Office to come up with a plan for the overhaul or replacement of the system within eight weeks.

Part of the problem is that, notwithstanding some updates, the PNC was still criticised as being “inflexible” and, due to its age, its operation was dependent on a “diminishing skills base” of software engineers with an understanding of how the 1970s technology operated.

This led to the situation where engineers carrying out a legally-required system update made one single error in coding, which caused the deletion of the records.

Noting that the team involved in running the system “have worked together over a long period of time”, the report stated that management would have relied on the “expertise and closeness” of the team. This made it much more likely that “their work would be accepted rather than checked by a leadership that was in a poor position to challenge their decision-making”.

Home secretary Priti Patel has said the upgrade of the Home Office databases is a priority, with a number of IT systems requiring modernisation.

She told the Home Affairs Committee in January that the issue has been “neglected by successive governments for far too long.”

Ms Patel added: ”The infrastructure is absolutely, as we have seen from the Police National Computer issue, out-of-date, struggling, and we have to absolutely update our systems.”

When the problem was first discovered in January, it was estimated that around 150,000 records had been lost. It was swiftly identified as an internal error and not the result of a cyber attack. 

Speaking to IT Pro in response, systems engineer manager at data management company Cohesity Ezat Dayeh said: “It is hard to believe that there is no protection, no backup and no policies that would prevent this kind of data being lost,” adding that “questions need to be asked” if it was not possible to recover the data.

At Agenda, Criminal Record checks form just one part of a package of checks we carry out for most of our clients. Our holistic approach to marrying up checks will identify anomalies, meaning you have enhanced protection from this type of threat.

4 In 5 UK Workers Confident In Their Leadership

A new report from business software and services provider, Advanced, has revealed that 82 per cent of UK workers are confident in the leadership of their company to bounce back from a crisis.

This is according to Advanced fifth Annual Trends Survey for 2020-21, that asked over 1,000 senior business decision-makers to have their say on the technology trends and their impact on UK organisations, now and in the future.

The survey also revealed that 42 per cent of respondents believe that the most important attribute of a business leader is to show strong leadership in a crisis, and 41 per cent said it was to have a clear vision and strategy during economic uncertainty.

During the continuing coronavirus crisis and the impact it has had on businesses, leaders are now prioritising economic recovery so that their companies can stay afloat and minimise redundancies, while the rest of the workforce are looking to their leaders for reassurance and direction.

However, it is suggested that the focus on keeping afloat could be to the detriment of employee wellbeing. 25 per cent of respondents said that supporting the wellbeing of their employees is an important attribute for a business leader to have.

Given the effect of the pandemic on mental health, and the rise in the levels of loneliness, isolation, stress and depression, this is a sobering statistic.

The report from Advanced suggests that business leaders must do more to prioritise the wellbeing of their workforce and demonstrate they have a duty of care to their employees, despite having performed well to instil confidence across their workforce during the crisis.

If you’re looking for pre-employment screening services, then talk to our team today.

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