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The cybersecurity talent war you don't hear about

By Joel Dreyfuss, special to CNBC.com
Andrey Popov | Getty Images

When CEOs make lists of the challenges they face, cybercrime has to rank near the top. A study for McAfee by the Center for Strategic and International Studies last year estimated the cost of illegal hacking to the global economy at $449 billion.

With almost daily reports of cybercriminals penetrating corporate and government systems—from Sony to the White House—companies are anxious to hire cybersecurity experts. There just aren't enough of them to tackle the soaring number of data breaches—up 49 percent last year from 2013, according to a report by Gemalto, a digital security firm. (Tweet this)

"We don't have enough expertise in the right places now," Peter Singer, co-author of the recent book "Cybersecurity and Cyberwar," told UPI. "We often frame cybersecurity as a technology problem. It is a human problem." One Rand Corporation study estimates there are around 1,000 top-level cybersecurity experts globally vs. a need for 10,000 to 30,000.

Finding the right Internet security guru can be as much a challenge as keeping your corporate data safe. Up to now, the hiring process for highly-skilled software engineers has often been haphazard, with some companies putting candidates through as many as 10 interviews, sometimes led by people without the skills to judge a candidate's talents.