F-Secure does its bit for IT security talent building

GOH: “It isn’t a huge goal but it is a crucial one if the nation is to meet the demands of the future."

By JO TIMBUONG bytz@thestar.com.my

KUALA LUMPUR: Computer security company F-Secure has set itself a goal — to improve the IT security skills of more than 200 IT undergraduates through a five-day train-the-trainer programme.

“It isn’t a huge goal but it is a crucial one if the nation is to meet the demands of the future,” said F-Secure Malaysia security advisor Goh Su Gim. The protection of computer networks is a growing concern as the world moves deeper into a digital environment.

Thirty lecturers from 10 local universities have signed up for the programme and Goh estimates that with their help, the course will benefit more than 200 IT undergraduates.

F-Secure’s hope is that after the programme, the participants will return to their respective institutions of higher learning and spread what they have learned.

“We are also working closely with the Multimedia Development Corp (MDeC) to monitor the progress of the programme,” Goh said. MDeC is caretaker of the MSC Malaysia initiative aimed at leapfrogging the nation into a knowledge-based economy.

Goh explained that the primary objective of the bi-annual programme, which is organised in collaboration with MDeC, is to empower local talents and help them improve their IT security skills, especially in combating malware (malicious software).

He said there is a lack of talent in this area because the development of these skills has not been included in the IT course curriculum at many Malaysian universities. As a result, security companies like F-Secure find it difficult to find professionals in that field for hire.

“The chances of recruiting Malaysian anti-malware analysts is near zero and we have had to rely on foreign talent. So we want to equip local IT undergraduates with the skills so that there will be a talent pool in this niche,” Goh said.

A good analyst must be able to identify any malware that has been hidden in a computer program or application, and to even reverse engineer the code, he said.

According to him, F-Secure has been conducting such courses for the past five years, with a hands-on approach, and has seen good results.

Three Malaysians who participated in one of the earlier programmes are now part of the F-Secure team here and help out with the courses. A senior researcher from F-Secure’s headquarters in Helsinki, Finland also flies in to assist.

The current programme, which will take place at the Multimedia University campus in Malacca, will also touch on other security subjects, such as the static and dynamic analysis on malware, as well as the analysis of mobile malware.

“We added-in mobile malware analysis, since more and more people are using smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices,” Goh said.

The programme also aims to build awareness for other career options in the profession. “The demand for IT security professionals is really high not only in anti-malware analysis but also in penetration testing, auditing of security policies and network security,” he said.

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