Hack The Box

New Research Reveals a Disconnect Between Global University Education and Recruitment Standards with Evolving Cyber Roles

Hack The Box raises concerns about the need for a rapid overhaul of recruitment processes and university curricula to solve crippling skills shortages.

LONDON, UK / ACCESSWIRE / January 31, 2024 / New research conducted in the UK and US reveals that over three-quarters (78%) of cybersecurity and IT professionals believe a traditional university education in cybersecurity is not doing enough to prepare graduates for the modern workforce. Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds (64%) of cyber industry professionals say current recruitment processes inadequately assess candidates' practical skills.

To view this piece of content from, please give your consent at the top of this page.

This is according to a new study called Securing the future of cybersecurity: From classroom to every career stage' from Hack The Box, a leading cybersecurity upskilling, certification, and talent assessment platform.

Higher education needs to adapt to modern threats

The research highlights a gap between the essential practical skills required to combat modern cyber-criminals in the workplace and the expertise cultivated within university education. An overwhelming 90% emphasise the need for cybersecurity and computer science graduates to be prepared with hands-on, practical experience before their first role.

Yet, over three-quarters of respondents express concerns about university education meeting this requirement, a worry that rises to 83% in the UK. The study highlighted that amongst all surveyed groups, those entering the cybersecurity field at ages 18-24 felt most strongly that traditional education isn't fully equipping them for the workforce.

Haris Pylarinos, CEO and co-founder at Hack The Box, says: "Universities worldwide excel in laying the groundwork for cybersecurity careers. However, the game has changed in the industry. Cybercriminals don't play by the rule book and are, therefore, always one step ahead. University curriculums need to adapt by prioritising hands-on learning experiences focused on real-world criminal techniques, concurrently instilling the hacker mindset in students - the next generation of cybersecurity professionals - fostering the ability to think like attackers and increasing their creativity and engagement while enhancing their proactive and reactive approach to the various cybersecurity challenges. It's particularly concerning that our research shows recent graduates are entering the workforce unprepared. This underscores the need for a change in the education system that will help rebalance the scales in favour of professionals."

Red tape and outdated recruitment processes plaguing the industry

A similar pattern occurs within businesses' assessments, with 64% asserting that existing recruitment processes inadequately assess candidates for their practical skills in addressing ever-evolving cyber threats.

Yet, when surveyed, cybersecurity professionals clearly prioritise practical skills and experience over traditional education for newcomers entering the industry. Specifically, they place greater emphasis on cybersecurity-specific certifications (47%), followed by relevant work experience (42%), practical experience gained from CTFs or hacking competitions (41%), and self-taught initiatives (36%). University degrees are ranked as of the least value for them when it comes to assessing cybersecurity and IT talent for a role.

Untapped talent pool waiting in the wings

The emphasis on conventional learning methods is acknowledged as a contributing factor to the industry's talent shortage. In fact, 80% of global professionals attribute the primary entry barriers in the field to favouring degrees over real-world, practical experience.

Pylarinos continues: "Our industry grapples with its most significant global shortage, currently at 4 million. Traditional recruitment processes only fuel this problem, creating red tape for capable individuals waiting in the wings to fill the gap. Relying solely on university degrees is no longer effective; assessments must equally emphasise testing candidates against real-world threats. Companies valuing practical experience and embracing talented, ethical hackers with hands-on experience will be best placed to succeed."

Reshaping recruitment

The study highlights key areas the cybersecurity community feels need improvement within current talent processes. For example, 48% of cyber professionals want to see closer collaboration with recruitment and HR teams, and 46% advocate prioritising relevant hands-on experience over formal degrees. Additionally, 39% suggest integrating practical assessments into interviews.

As a result, Hack The Box calls for a change in university education and recruitment processes, with practical learning and assessments as the cornerstone of education and talent strategies.


About Hack The Box

Hack The Box is a leading gamified cybersecurity upskilling, certification, and talent assessment platform enabling individuals, businesses, government institutions, and universities to sharpen their offensive and defensive security expertise. Launched in 2017, Hack The Box brings together the largest global cybersecurity community of more than 2m platform members and is on a mission to create and connect cyber-ready humans and organisations through highly engaging hacking experiences that cultivate out-of-the-box thinking. Offering a fully guided and exploratory skills development environment, Hack The Box is the ideal solution for cybersecurity professionals and organisations to continuously enhance their cyber-attack readiness by improving their red, blue, and purple team capabilities. Rapidly growing its international footprint and reach, Hack The Box is headquartered in the UK, with additional offices in Greece and the US.

For more information, please visit

For press inquiries, please contact:


Hack The Box commissioned an independent market research company, Censuswide, to survey a sample of 3,000 IT and cybersecurity professionals in the UK and the US between the dates of 20th October and 30th October 2023. Unless stated otherwise, all figures were drawn from this poll.

SOURCE: Hack The Box

View the original press release on

To view this piece of content from, please give your consent at the top of this page.


HiddenA line styled icon from Orion Icon Library.Eye