Cyber attacks cost the global economy around £380bn a year. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo
Britain’s top cybersecurity experts are billing major companies more than £10,000 a day to protect vulnerable IT systems from sophisticated hackers, according to recruiter Manpower.
Less experienced experts can still charge more than £3,000 a day to tackle the escalating threat to sensitive digital information.
The pay bonanza follows high-profile recent attacks on Sony, TalkTalk and JD Wetherspoon, in which personal and financial information was stolen.
Manpower’s survey found that the hourly rates charged by IT security experts were likely to continue rising next year as boardrooms scrambled to find expert advice from a limited pool of advisers.
Manpower said its own client database showed requests from employers looking for IT security expertise had quadrupled in 2015 compared with the previous year.
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Mark Cahill, the firm’s UK managing director, said: “There are millions of cyber-attacks every day with a total cost to the global economy of up to $575bn (£381bn) a year.
“Companies are having to invest heavily to protect themselves and they now believe that cyber breaches are inevitable, with their focus moving to responding to attacks rather than just prevention.
“Some individuals can command daily rates in excess of £3,000, and some top cybersecurity specialists can even earn five-figure sums daily. With the potential risk to companies so significant and no signs of demand falling, those sky-high salaries look set to continue.”
The jobs agency said the boom in pay for IT security workers came against a backdrop of strong employment trends going into the new year, driven by IT and computing and transport, storage and communications.
Manpower’s seasonally adjusted figure for the net employment outlook over the next three months jumped two percentage points to a balance of +7%, as companies ramped up hiring plans going into the new year.
The survey is based on responses from 2,102 UK employers, asking them whether they intend to hire additional workers or reduce the size of their workforce in the coming quarter.
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Most of the gains in transport, storage and communications can be connected to soaring online sales, requiring increasing numbers of vans, trucks and lorries to ferry goods around the country to customers or storage depots and distribution centres.
Three-quarters of British consumers expect to do at least half their Christmas shopping online this year. Only 3% say they will not buy any gifts at all online.
This huge shift in the nation’s shopping habits is benefiting online businesses at the expense of high street retailers, the survey found, pushing retail sector hiring below the national average, at +5%. A recent report by PwC found that 437 more shops closed than opened up over the past year.
Cahill said: “With retailers such as Argos and Amazon offering same-day delivery and some of the big names on the high street investing in expanding their own delivery fleets, our data reveals that the business areas that support online shopping – transport, storage and communications – are powering ahead this quarter, with an outlook of +9%.”
High street shops are expected to suffer further in April when the “national living wage” comes into effect, raising the basic minimum for staff over 25 to £7.20. While some employers plan to absorb the costs or raise prices, many are expected to cut back on overtime rates and possibly reduce pension contributions and other benefits to cope.