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The cybersecurity skills gap is one of the most pressing challenges facing security teams as we move into 2023. With research highlighting a shortfall of 3.4 million cybersecurity workers, more and more organizations are turning to cybersecurity training and upskilling to enhance their security postures.
This movement is driving valuable investor interest in online cybersecurity upskilling and talent assessment providers like Hack the Box, which today announced raising $55 million as part of a series B funding round led by Carlyle.
Online cybersecurity training provides organizations with a medium to upskill junior employees so they don’t have to compete over more experienced professionals who are in high demand among other organizations.
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Hack the Box’s platform provides 1.7 million users at 1,400 organizations across the world with educational content and over 450 virtual hacking labs, which users can use to educate themselves on offensive security and penetration testing.
Upskilling out of the skills gap
The announcement comes as more and more organizations are recognizing the value of developing internal security talent rather than hiring externally. In fact, 62% of organizations report that training improved their organization’s cybersecurity effectiveness, decreasing the number of breach attempts and overall security incidents.
When it comes to the format of security training, guidance on offensive security, ethical hacking and penetration testing is particularly valuable as it gives practitioners the expertise they need to proactively identify and mitigate vulnerabilities before an attacker has a chance to exploit them.
“In this rapidly moving, ever-evolving threat landscape, security teams need to focus on the skills that matter and take a more adversarial approach,” said Haris Pylarinos, founder and CEO of Hack the Box.
“This means hiring a team of ethical hackers to defend against cybercriminals by seeking out and finding an organization’s vulnerabilities first. The reality is, the only way to beat an attacker is to think and act like one — which is why ethical hacking is so crucial to solving the skills gap and putting an end to cybercriminal activity,” Pylarinos said.
Pylarinos also notes that, more broadly, ethical hacking provides organizations with access to an untapped pool of highly skilled cybertalent who can help to plug the skills gap and secure increasingly complex environments.
One of Hack the Box’s main competitors in the market is Immersive Labs, which raised $66 million in funding in October 2022, and offers security teams a platform for continually testing and measuring cyber resilience, with defensive and offensive upskilling training content and exercises tailored toward executive, cybersecurity, and risk and compliance teams.
Another key competitor is Offensive Security, which offers a set of online resources including courses on penetration testing, cloud security, security operations, exploit development and software security. Offensive Security also offers a penetration testing service to help enterprises test their operational resilience.
However, according to Pylarinos, the main differentiator between Hack the Box and these competitors is its emphasis on providing users with hands-on exercises to address real-world hacking problems.
“Perseverance and outside-the-box thinking are the core hacking skills that form true experts, not memorizing handbooks and blindly following instructions. Our platform builds a hacker mindset that helps players obtain the muscle memory needed when facing an attack,” Pylarinos said.