THE rapid growth of the cybersecurity industry coupled with threats from advances in technology is driving greater job creation in the field.
Citing the Forbes report on the top 10 digital transformation trends for 2021, cybersecurity management company Tecforte said that advances in technology have created a high demand for cybersecurity skills this year.
From January to April 2020 alone, attacks on banks increased by 238% and attacks on cloud servers increased by 600%, Tecforte told StarEdu.
But despite the growth in the cybersecurity industry, Malaysia is still lagging behind when it comes to manufacturing experts, Datuk told Dr. Amirudin Abdul Wahab, Chief Executive Officer of CyberSecurity Malaysia (CSM).
In December last year, Malaysia saw a shortage of 7,917 skilled workers, but the country aims to produce 20,000 cybersecurity professionals by 2025, he said. Meanwhile, Malaysia is slated to have an additional 9,020 cybersecurity expert positions to fill by 2026, Tecforte noted.
These statistics, the company said, highlight the opportunity for cybersecurity graduates in current and future economies that are driven by digital needs.
On the way to a digital economy, not only more graduates are needed, but also “qualitative” graduates who are ready to meet the requirements of the industry, emphasized Tecforte.
“However, the cybersecurity talent supply provided by local universities is insufficient for the needs of the industry.
“There is also a gap between the quality of the students and the demands or expectations of the industry, as the students are mostly trained theoretically rather than so much through hands-on experience,” the company said.
Traditionally, the majority of cybersecurity graduates have been employed in cybersecurity or technology-oriented companies as these were areas that required the skills.
However, as the focus shifts to digitization, these talents will be needed by most types of businesses and organizations, including tech companies, startups, multinational corporations, governmental corporations, systems integrators, technology resellers and distributors, and government agencies, Tecforte said. The Chief Innovation Officer of the Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) and Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Vinesh Thiruchelvam said that new technologies and innovations to ward off new malware are expected to gain momentum.
Therefore, cybersecurity will continue to be needed to bring talent into the workforce.
“Because of the breadth and depth of the content, cybersecurity should be identified as a separate cluster within the standards for computer education,” he said.
Industries that need cybersecurity professionals
One key sector in need of cybersecurity talent is Malaysia’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
SMEs are a large contributor to the country’s total gross domestic product, which was 38.2% in 2020, and also employ 48% of the country’s workforce, said Wan Murdani Wan Mohamad, director of digital infrastructure and services for Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC ).
“SMEs are the new big target for cyberattacks because they are not prepared for it.
“They lack the resources and expertise to manage cybersecurity operations,” he said, adding a 2019 study found that 84% of Malaysia’s SMEs have been compromised by cyber threat incidents.
Another 2020 study found that 76% of SMEs have suffered more than one cyber attack.
In the past year alone, Malaysia recorded 6,512 cybersecurity incidents, he said.
Statistics from the Royal Malaysian Police, he added, show 11,875 reported cybercrimes with a loss of RM 498 million in 2018.
In 2020 the number of cases rose to 14,229 with a total damage of RM 413 million.
In the period from January to May 2021, the number of registered incidents was 4,615, which in comparison corresponds to almost doubling the number of threats and incidents.
“As the digital economy grows enormously, cyber attacks will multiply with greater business impact. We are beginning to see SMEs adopting digital technology either to enable their businesses to expand the market or to improve the way they deliver services, ”said Wan Murdani.
As SMEs make a huge contribution to the Malaysian economy, it is imperative to ensure that the appropriate safety precautions are in place.
The introduction of cybersecurity for SMEs and in general is no longer an option, but a necessity.
As such, he said that MDEC, along with the National Cyber Security Agency (Nacsa) and SME Corporation Malaysia, has developed a collaborative approach to a community-based public and private sector program known as Matrix Cybersecurity SMEs (Matrix) promoting adoption and implementation of cybersecurity among SMEs in all sectors in Malaysia.
As cyber threats grow and evolve rapidly, according to Wan Murdani, it is necessary for graduates to have access to and operate in a real world environment in order to leverage proactive security monitoring and incident response skills.
“These skills are in great demand in the industry as more and more Critical National Information Infrastructure (CNII) organizations improve their security functions for greater digital adoption.
“Involving the students in the live learning also gives them the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in dealing with cybersecurity issues.
“This is an added value when they become part of the cybersecurity workforce in the future as it speeds skills development,” he added.
In addition, MDEC works closely with universities to identify skills in demand by industry and to embed those skills into student learning.
In addition to working with the right partners, whether in the public sector, private sector or academia, partnerships with government agencies are vital to ensure that initiatives are in line with the national agenda and strategy.
“It will be impactful and will benefit the university we work with,” he said.
A lot of money is also being pumped into the cybersecurity sector.
According to Wan Murdani, cybersecurity spending for the Southeast Asian market was about 10.4 billion in 2019, growing at a higher rate of 16.5%, according to IDC Digital Transformation: Cybersecurity enable the Malaysia Digital Economy White Paper.