MDEC addressing cybersecurity expert shortage through Pride initiatives

Talent gap is not unique to Malaysia as the world is facing a shortfall of 1m such experts, a crisis that should not be ignored, says Yasmin

By KEVIN WONG / Pic By AFIF ABD HALIM

The Malaysia Digital Economy Corp Sdn Bhd (MDEC) hopes to reduce the gap of 3,000 cybersecurity experts shortage through two strategic initiatives under the Platform for Real Industry Driven Project Exchange (Pride).

Under the initiatives, MDEC is partnering UK’s Protection Group International (PGI), Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation (APU) and local security solutions provider, TecForte Sdn Bhd.

“The partnership between industry players and the local educational institution will help identify the gaps in the industry and guide critical skill set development within the institution.

“This will also help to upskill cybersecurity industry talents and produce high-income professionals,” MDEC CEO Datuk Yasmin Mahmood (picture) said after the exchange of agreement at APU last Friday.

She said the talent gap in the cybersecurity industry is not unique to Malaysia as the world is facing a shortfall of one million such experts, a crisis that should not be ignored.

Asean’s digital economy has the potential to add US$1 trillion (RM3.94 trillion) to the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) over the next decade.

“However, the increasing wave of cyberthreats and risks could impede trust and resilience in the digital economy and prevent the region from realising its full digital potential “Looking at Malaysia, it has also seen strong economic growth in recent years and is determined to continue this trend to achieve the government’s vision of becoming a high-income nation,” she said.

Yasmin sais Malaysia’s digital economy has continued to grow as it has contributed about 17.8% to the GDP in 2015, just shy of the 18.2% target previously set by the government.

According to a recent AT Kearney cybersecurity Asean study, it stated that the top 1,000 Asean companies could lose US$750 billion in market capitalisatio and cybersecurity concerns could derail the region’s digital innovation agenda — a central pillar for its success in the digital economy.

Citing a December 2017 LinkedIn report on cybersecurity talent in Malaysia, Yasmin said only 21% of talent has up to just four years of experience.

“The overall situation is a cause for alarm as the ‘funnel’ of new talent is too small and not enough to sustain and support the growing demand for our digital economy.

“Hence, through the facilitation of MDEC Pride Programme, we will increase the ‘industry-readiness’ of our graduates with ‘Elite’, the Educational Outreach initative from Tec- Forte,” she said.

The initiative will feature a live learning Security Information Event Management platform where students will be introduced to hands-on cybersecurity operations as well as to real-time event analytics, global threat intelligence and incidents handling framework withing the campus environment.

“Additionally, looking at the many companies that are already operating some of the best cybersecurity operation centres here, MDEC is connecting the dots to ensure the country will have the most robust and holistic cybersecurity ecosystem in the region or even the world,” Yasmin said.

British High Commissioner to Malaysia Vicki Treadell, who was also present at the event, said in June 2016, the UK and Malaysia had signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly promote the adoption of digital- economy solutions.

“Our tech partnership has since grown in breadth and depth, extending to new areas of cybersecurities and smart cities. The partnership today will add a new dimension to our collaboration as we see the UK tech industry and Malaysian academia joining hands,” she said, adding that the collaboration will help address the gap in cybersecurity as well encourage cyber research between the UK and institutions in the region.

Treadell added that in 2016, British companies had invested about RM240 million in digital-related industry in Malaysia and there would be more of such investments in 2018.