20,000 experts by 2025

PETALING JAYA: A talent development framework is in the works to address the country’s shortage of cybersecurity professionals.

The framework is being drafted by the National Cyber Security Agency (Nacsa), Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and Higher Education Ministry, said MDEC Digital Infrastructure and Services director Wan Murdani Wan Mohamad.

It will use Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) Cybersecurity Talent Zone as a pilot model, he told Sunday Star.

“The framework stipulates the strategies and measures needed to ensure a productive talent development pipeline into the industry workforce based on the estimated forecast of cybersecurity professionals required for the nation within the next five years,” said APU chief innovation officer and deputy vice-chancellor Prof Dr Vinesh Thiruchelvam.

The APU Cybersecurity Talent Zone gives exposure in IR 4.0 sub-sectors to students as well such as forensics, analytics, cloud and network engineering and the Internet of Things and has been in operation since Dec 2018, he added.

Wan Murdani said the Cybersecurity Talent Zone is a cybersecurity exchange hub done in collaboration between APU, MDEC and industry partners to nurture graduates for the cybersecurity workforce.

“It will expose university students to real-time cybersecurity operation experience, which is the main focus of the framework.”

Bringing real-world expertise to the framework, he said, will ensure industry relevance when nurturing the next-generation of cybersecurity talents.

It will also encourage more research by universities, advance teaching capabilities and ensure continuous collaboration and industry engagement such as apprenticeships and talent matching, he added.

Besides APU Cybersecurity Talent Zone, Wan Murdani said other cybersecurity exchange hubs also exist in Malaysia such as the Security Operations Centres (SOCs) in Politeknik Mersing, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and Universiti Teknologi Mara.

“Ultimately, the framework aims to match high income talent with demands of the cybersecurity industry and attract high value investors to the country,” he added.

CyberSecurity Malaysia (CSM) chief executive officer Datuk Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab said the country still needs some 7,917 cybersecurity experts to fulfil the Malaysia Digital Economic Blueprint (MyDigital) aspirations to have 20,000 experts by 2025.

As such, he said CSM has developed a separate training and certification programme to suit local needs and demands, while aligning it to international standards.

“It is known as the Global ACE Certification and one of its aim is to reduce Malaysia’s dependency on international certification programmes,” he said.

The growing use of data-driven technologies, especially in the past one year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has also led to a rise in cybersecurity threats, added Dr Amirudin, who highlighted that every day an average of 31 cases of cybersecurity incidents nationwide were reported to the agency.

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