Cybersecurity Specialists Needed in Malaysia
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As the Digital Economy takes the centre stage around the world, the risk of cybersecurity threats has also become prevalent. The threats have become increasingly sophisticated making the need for qualified cybersecurity experts to grow exponentially in Malaysia.
Hence, there is an increasing demand for cybersecurity talent in Malaysia as the government looks to position Malaysia as one of the leading countries in Asean for cybersecurity resources. Malaysia’s cybersecurity industry is expected to enjoy “phenomenal growth” within the next few years.
Asean’s cybersecurity spending is forecasted to grow 15% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) between 2015 and 2025. In addition, Malaysia is one of the top three Asean countries that are expected to contribute 75% of the cybersecurity services market share by 2025
Furthermore, according to a Frost and Sullivan survey, the demand for cybersecurity-related jobs would hit 10,500 by 2020. Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation chief executive officer Datuk Yasmin Mahmood said it was forecasted that by 2020, the industry would see a talent gap of about 6,000 given its current trajectory.
Malaysian students who have an interest in computing courses and good in Maths should consider a career in Cyber Security as it will be very high in demand in future. Furthermore, it pays well. Malaysia targets employing 20,000 cybersecurity professional by 2025 with the right training in artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and Big Data across all industries. The rapid growth of the cybersecurity industry, coupled with threats posed by technological advancements, is resulting in greater job creation in the field.
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What is the Job Demand for Cybersecurity Specialists in Malaysia?
Cybersecurity is very much a global issue. When attacks happen in the US, chances are, they will trickle down to other parts of the world too. In Malaysia, specifically, cybercrimes have increased at an average of 10,000 cases per year – the highest number involves online scams and hacking information systems of organisations.
The advent of digital technology has fundamentally changed the way people work, eat, shop, and live. But it has also changed the societies and how people defend themselves.
A report by the Malaysia Computer Emergency Response Team (MyCERT), states that more than 10,000 cybersecurity attacks on corporations and individuals were recorded last year, showing that cybersecurity is clearly a big concern in Malaysia. Some of the reports included fraud, intrusion, malicious code and cyber harassment.
The more we use technology, the bigger the threat of cyber attacks. The impact of cyberattacks can be devastating and even irreparable to organisations, companies or individuals. In addition, soon the role 5G will play a big part in shaping the future of cybersecurity.
Several emerging cyber security challenges which could soon become major areas of focus for cyber professionals across virtually every industrial sector such as Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), 5G Networks and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
The Minister of Communications and Multimedia had announced the 5G Cyber Security Test Lab (My5G) in anticipation of the nation’s 5G rollout. My5G will be Southeast Asia’s first specialist security evaluation and test facility testing for 5G products, devices and applications. The prospective capabilities of 5G will be game-changing but will also pose new security challenges. The Government will need to create an environment that is flexible and adaptable to address existing legacy issues and tackle new emerging threats.
Cybersecurity spending for the South-East Asian market in 2019 was about RM10.4bil and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.8%, primarily driven by the services sector, in which it is forecasted to grow at a larger rate of 16.5%, as reported by IDC Digital.
As cybercriminals grow more sophisticated and news of major breaches reach headlines nearly daily, cybersecurity professionals are in high demand: There are currently nearly 3 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs worldwide, ISC(2) found.
In 2015, there were 1,714 cases of cyber hacking reported in Malaysia. This year, however, it’s shocking to note that 1,705 incidents have already been reported during the first half of the year!
From January to December 2021, a total of 10,016 cases of cyber incidents were reported to the Cyber999, the cyber security incident response center operated by MyCERT (Malaysia Computer Emergency Response Team).
According to a study referenced in the Malaysia Cyber Security Strategy 2020-2024, Malaysia has the potential to lose RM51 billion due to cyber security incidents, which accounts for more than 4% of the country’s total gross domestic product.
This proves that the threat in Malaysia is only increasing, and it is expected that more local organisations will be under attack in future. There will also be increased incidents of insider threats through hijacked systems, rogue users, or accidental user errors.
According to statistics shared by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Malaysia is one of the best ranking countries in the Asean region based on potential in the cyber-security industry with an anticipated demand for 10,500 cyber-security talents in Malaysia by 2020.
In addition, Citing the Forbes Top 10 Digital Transformation Trends for 2021 report, cybersecurity management firm Tecforte said the advancements in technology have led to a high demand for cybersecurity skills with global statistics predicting that the cyber crime damage would be US$6 trillion (RM25 trillion) annually by this year.
A 238% rise in attacks on banks and a 600% increase in attacks on cloud servers were observed from January to April 2020 alone according to Tecforte.
But despite the growth in the cybersecurity industry, Malaysia still lags behind in its production of experts, noted CyberSecurity Malaysia (CSM) chief executive officer Datuk Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab.
As of December last year, Malaysia recorded a shortage of 7,917 professionals but the country is aiming to produce 20,000 cybersecurity experts by 2025. Meanwhile, Malaysia is projected to have an additional 9,020 cybersecurity professional positions by 2026 that need to be filled, noted Tecforte.
A recent AT Kearney study on cybersecurity revealed the top 1,000 Southeast Asian companies could lose US$750 billion in market capitalisation amid cybersecurity concerns that could derail the region’s digital innovation agenda.
In fact, this demand for specialised skills is reflected in the Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey 2019, which reported that 67% of corporations around the world are currently facing skill shortages in big data/analytics, cyber-security and Artificial Intelligence (AI) – ranked top three skills in order of demand.
When it comes to potential in the cyber-security industry, Malaysia is one of the best ranking countries in the ASEAN region that are expected to contribute 75% of cyber-security services market share by 2025.Here are the details:
- 3.5 Million: A study by CyberSecurity Ventures shows that by 2021 there will be a deficit of 3.5 million cyber security professionals in the world
- 10,500: Number of cybersecurity talent demand in Malaysia by the year 2020 (Source: Frost & Sullivan’s recent digital talent study)
- Top 10% of job opportunities in Malaysia is related to cybersecurity. (Source: Talent Pool Report Pro – Oct 2017)
- 21%: The percentage of women in Malaysian cybersecurity Workforce (Source: Dec 2017 LinkedIn Report)
- USD 632.6M: Estimated value of Malaysia’s overall security services market in 2021 (Source: IDC market Security product and services forecast, 2H16)
Need for Cybersecurity Graduates Trained with Practical Skills
The statistics above highlight the opportunity for Malaysia’s cybersecurity graduates in current and future economies driven by digital needs. As we head towards a digital economy, the demand will not just be for more graduates, but also “quality” graduates who are ready to meet the demands of the industry.
However, the supply of cybersecurity graduates from local universities is insufficient for the needs of the industry. Furthermore, there is a gap between the quality of students against the requirements or expectations from the industry, as graduates from most universities are mainly educated more on theory and not so much through practical, hands-on experience.
As cyber threats rapidly grow and evolve, it is necessary for graduates to have access to – and operate in – a real-life environment to harness skills in proactive security monitoring and incident responses. These skills are highly in demand in the industry as more Critical National Information Infrastructure (CNII) organisations are continuing to enhance their security capabilities towards greater digital adoption. Immersing students in live-learning also gives them the opportunity to have firsthand experience in dealing with cybersecurity matters.
Therefore, students need to seek out private universities that possess the necessary labs and facilities that will equip them with practical industry relevant skills. This is a value add when they become part of the cybersecurity workforce in the future as it accelerates the skills development.
What are the Most Worrying Cyber Threats Amongst Malaysian Consumers?
The most worrying threat is that consumers can experience an incidence of cybercrime in a relatively easy fashion. More and more attacks that are happening are for financial gains by way of data leakage or data theft. With the rise of social media and internet usage for personal and professional reasons, consumers seemingly sprint their way throughout the online universe without thinking about privacy settings.
Individuals share much of their personal and sensitive information on social media, and because of the easy accessibility to this personal information, attackers are able to take advantage of this information for malicious purposes. Daily routines like answering e-mails, texting over WhatsApp, transferring files over USB and the like, leave a footprint which can also be exploited by those with ill intentions.
As access to various data, including those of a confidential nature, becomes easily attainable, crooks are able to uncover pins, passwords and sensitive information for malicious purposes. These attackers can spread malware via malicious email attachments, infected programmes and compromised websites.
They hold a victim’s files, computer system or mobile device “hostage”, restricting access until a ransom is paid. In the case of ransomware, demands are relatively affordable and easy, as crooks are intent on collecting money quickly and moving on to their next target. However, making payment does not guarantee the successful return of encrypted files or device/ computer storage.
Cybersecurity Job Demand in Malaysia According to Hays
Cyber security professionals are increasingly in demand as businesses continue to battle the growing threat of cybercrime, says recruiting experts, Hays.
Cyber security is one of the leading challenges being faced by businesses today. The consequences of an attack can be severe to an organisation, including; financial costs running into the millions, damage to a business’s operation and internal systems, compromised customer data and reputational damage to a company’s brand.
Tom Osborne, Regional Director of Hays Malaysia says; “The implications of being attacked are far reaching and the after effects can be devastating to a business, as well as its customers. This is why cyber security needs to be a priority for organisations, so they are better positioned to protect customer data and IT security. As the threats become more sophisticated they become more difficult to keep up with, so the time to address these issues is now.”
With the threat of a cyber-attack escalating in recent years, cyber security spend has increased dramatically. As there has been a spate of well-publicised attacks recently, the amount being spent by businesses on improving their systems and hiring professionals will only increase.
Tom added, “At Hays we have seen an increase in permanent demand for security experts across a range of clients, with security analysts and security architects, cyber threat intelligence analysts, consultants and cyber incident analysts being the most in-demand.”
Businesses looking to hire a cyber security specialist must be prepared to pay a higher premium for professionals with these skills.
Tom explains, “Many businesses have begun to focus on the issue as a priority, which is great, but it means there is a premium being placed on those candidates with cyber security skills as they are in short supply.”
It is still early days for the cyber security jobs market, which in part has led to a worldwide shortage of experts. As a result, wages have increased as organisations battle to attract this sought after talent.
What is the Salary for Cybersecurity Professionals in Malaysia?
The demand for cybersecurity experts in emerging markets like Malaysia is so high that companies are turning their roles into highly lucrative careers and poaching students with job offers even before they graduate.
United Kingdom-based cyber-security firm Protection Group International (PGI) says IT professionals who upskill to specialise in security could easily see a 20 percent increase in pay, The Star reported.
Demand is outgrowing supply and pushing up pay, as companies compete for the best talent in Malaysia.
Listed below are the salaries for cybersecurity specialists in Malaysia as reported by the Human Resource Recruitment Specialists in their Salary Guide.
Randstad Malaysia market outlook & salary snapshot 2022
The Malaysian government has also taken strides to spur digitalisation even further. In February 2021, the
government launched its digital blueprint—MyDIGITAL, a roadmap that charts the path towards Malaysia’s vision of becoming a regional leader in the digital economy.
Some of these initiatives include increasing the number of local data centres to provide high-end cloud computing services, rolling out 5G networks, and driving greater cybersecurity adoption.
MyDIGITAL is expected to create 500,000 new job opportunities in the digital economy and, in effect,
contribute 22.6% of Malaysia’s gross domestic product by 2030.
In relation to the rise of cloud technology, there is a huge demand for cybersecurity professionals today. As Malaysian firms of all shapes and sizes go digital and incrementally move their operations online, their
vulnerabilities to cyber threats have also increased.
In PwC’s Digital Trust Insights Survey 2021, cybersecurity is a growing concern for Malaysian organisations, with 70% of Malaysian business leaders saying cybersecurity and privacy are baked into every business decision. Unfortunately, there is a significant lack of cybersecurity experts in the country.
In 2020, Malaysia recorded a shortage of 7,917 experts within the field. This is consistent with global trends, where the speed of digitalisation greatly outpaces the number of skilled talent. The government aims to resolve this shortage with plans of producing 20,000 cybersecurity knowledge workers by 2025 through the MyDIGITAL blueprint.
- CTO / Head of Technology (Enterprise) with 12-15 years of experience can earn between $20,000 to $35,000 a month
- CTO / Head of Technology (Start-Up) with 15-20 years of experience can earn between $40,000 to $70,000 a month
- Head of Security / CISO with 10-20 years of experience can earn between $20,000 to $35,000 a month
- Security Lead / Architect with 5-10 years of experience can earn between $15,000 to $30,000 a month
- Security Engineer with 1-5 years of experience can earn between $4,500 to $16,000 a month
Government-backed digitalisation to boost talent demand
Despite prolonged lockdowns in 2021, demand for talent in the Technology sector remained steady and resistant to disruption. The main driver of this was the recognition of the digital risks that surfaced because of our new way of working during the pandemic, pushing up the demand for cybersecurity and DevOps professionals.
In 2022, the continued acceleration of digitalisation and virtualisation across all sectors will see businesses adjusting to sustainability needs, ever-increasing data volumes, and faster computing and network speeds.
Additionally, under the MyDigital initiative, the Malaysian government is openly committed to advance the country digitally, aiming to attract and drive investments in the digital economy to create at least half a million jobs by 2025.
Accordingly, the demand for roles within software and programming, data analytics, and RPA (Robotic Processing Automation) will strengthen rapidly in the coming year. At the same time, the acceleration of the Fintech sector will lead to stronger demand for Product Developer, Product Management Lifecycle, and UI/UX Specialist roles as digital payments and digital banks expand.
Furthermore, the digitalisation of industries such as Retail and Healthcare as well as advancements in Greentech are giving rise to new ways to explore and interpret data. Employers are thus seeking out Data Analysts or Data Scientists who demonstrate creativity and has the business acumen to produce useful
insight for their stakeholders
Salary ranges are represented in local currency (RM) in ‘000 per year
- IT Security/IT Risk 180 – 480
- Digital Forensics 180 – 360
- Incident Respond Specialist 120 – 300
- Cybersecurity Consultant 216 – 480
- Malware Reverse Engineer 240 – 360
- Security Operations Center Analyst 120 – 300
- Penetration Tester 144 – 240
- Threat Intelligence Analyst 180 – 360
- CISO 360 – 720
- Cybersecurity Architect 240 – 420
- Security Engineer 72 – 192
- Security Consultant 120 – 216
- IT Audit 96 – 180
Michael Page Malaysia Salary Report 2022
- IT Security Engineer – Average monthly gross salary for 12 months (MYR) 95,000
- Senior IT Security Specialist – Average monthly gross salary for 12 months (MYR) 131,000
PersolKelly Malaysia Salary & Employment Outlook 2021/22
Larger organisations are making efforts to integrate IT into their operations. Cybersecurity and data systems integration solutions are burgeoning. The essentialities of such services received acknowledgement
by SMEs, and the adoption rate reflects the shift. And predictably, the top 10% of job opportunities in Malaysia are cybersecurity-related.
More businesses and companies understand the significance of cybersecurity. With the ongoing global pandemic, most industries are going digital, which indirectly necessitate cybersecurity protection. It is
imperative to keep organisations safe by executing new technologies to address the potential risks.
Budget 2021 allocated RM27million for cybersecurity programs alone. That itself forms the fundamental building blocks of the digital transition under the Malaysian
Digital Economy roadmap.
- Chief Information Officers with12-18 years of experience can earn between RM25,000 to RM40,000 a month
- Security Analyst with 3-5 years experience can earn between RM8,000 to RM10,000 a month
- IT Executive with 2 years experience can earn between RM5,500 to RM7,500 a month
RGF Salary Watch Malaysia 2020 (Cybersecurity)
- Director with more than 20 years of experience
- Global MNC type of company earns between RM300,00 to RM540,000 yearly
- Large Local/Global MNC HQ type of company earns between RM360,000 to RM600,000 yearly
- SME type of company earns between RM240,000 to RM420,000 yearly
- Manager/Architect with15-20 years of experience
- Global MNC type of company earns between RM180,000 to RM252,000 yearly
- Large Local/Global MNC HQ type of company earns between RM216,000 to RM302,000 yearly
- SME type of company earns between RM180,000 to RM252,000 yearly
- Engineer with 5-8 years of experience
- Global MNC type of company earns between RM90,000 to RM126,000 yearly
- Large Local/Global MNC HQ type of company earns between RM96,000 to RM134,000 yearly
- SME type of company earns between RM78,000 to RM109,000 yearly
Pikom’s ICT Job Market Outlook in Malaysia 2018
Pikom’s ICT Job Market Outlook in Malaysia 2018 report highlighted that cybersecurity positions are among the top-paying jobs in each of five position levels from fresh graduate to senior manager (see table).
A critical shortage of specialised cybersecurity professionals worldwide who are able to protect organisations from the adverse risks of the sophisticated online attacks is the reason for the attractive remuneration.
What is the Qualification to become a Cyber Security Specialist in Malaysia?
Cybersecurity is an interdisciplinary field that requires knowledge in tech, human behavior, finance, risk, law, and regulation. Many people in the cybersecurity workforce enter the field from other careers that tap these skills, and translate them to cyber.
Most entry-level cybersecurity jobs in Malaysia require a 3-year bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity or in a related field such as information technology (IT) or computer science.
Some employers require an advanced qualification such as a master’s degree in cybersecurity. A master’s degree course takes an additional one to two years to complete after the bachelor’s degree programme and provides advanced instruction in protecting computer networks and electronic infrastructures from attack.
A career path for cyber defenders normally starts with a diploma in IT and progresses to an undergraduate programme in computer science or ICT.
The high-level career requires an array of technical ICT skills and advanced analytical capabilities taught in continuing professional courses or postgraduate programmes.
Important technical skills required of cyber defenders include a solid grounding in IT fundamentals (web applications, system administration), coding skills (C, C++, Java, PHP, Perl, Ruby, Python) and a good understanding of the architecture, administration and operating systems. However, to be successful, one needs to be well-equipped with both technical and soft skills such as teamwork, leadership and excellent oral and written communication.
Cyber Security Specialists can also participate in professional training and be awarded international certifications such as:
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- Rocheston Certified Cybersecurity Engineer (RCCE)
- CompTIA Security+
- CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional)
- International Information System Security Certification Consortium Inc (ISC)2
- Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA)
- Certified Information Security Auditor (CISA)
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
Degree students may take some of these certification courses during your degree studies however some certifications like the CISSP will require more working experience and expertise before you can attempt them. Your university will be able to advise you on which certification courses would be suitable for you to attempt.
Which are the Top Private Universities in Malaysia for Cybersecurity?
If you are considering a career in computer science, take a look at programs that offer a bachelor’s degree in cyber security. With the rise in cyber attacks and increasingly complex cyber threats, a bachelor’s degree in cyber security from a top university in Malaysia provides a strong foundation to be prepared for one of the many jobs available in the field.
Top award-winning universities and colleges in Malaysia to study Computer Security or Cyber Security are:
- Asia Pacific University (APU)
- Multimedia University (MMU)
- Taylor’s University
- University of Wollongong (UOW) Malaysia KDU
What skills are required to work in cybersecurity?
The skills required to work in cybersecurity vary depending on what position you enter and what company you work for. Generally, cybersecurity workers are responsible for tasks such as penetration testing (the practice of testing a computer system, network, or web application to find vulnerabilities that an attacker could exploit), risk analysis (the process of defining and analyzing the cyber threats to a business, and aligning tech-related objectives to business objectives), and security assessment (a process that identifies the current security posture of an information system or organization, and offers recommendations for improvement).
Certifications, including Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) are also in demand, and can net you a higher salary in the field.
Where can You work with a Degree in Cyber Security?
Graduates can find employment as computer security experts such as cybersecurity analysts, forensic computer analysts, software developers, IT analysts and web application developers in many different organisations.
- Chief Information Security Officer
- Computer Forensics Engineer
- Computer Forensics Investigator
- Cyber Security Analyst
- Ethical Hacker
- Information Security Analyst
- Information Security Engineer
- Information Systems Security Manager
- Information Systems Security Officer
- Malware Analyst
- Penetration Tester
- Secure Applications Engineer
What are some of the Cyber Security Job Roles?
Cybersecurity jobs span a number of different roles with a variety of job functions, depending on their title as well as an individual company’s needs.
In-demand roles include penetration testers, who go into a system or network, find vulnerabilities, and either report them to the organization or patch them themselves. Cybersecurity engineers, who often come from a technical background within development, dive into code to determine flaws and how to strengthen an organization’s security posture. Security software developers integrate security into applications software during the design and development process.
Computer forensics experts conduct security incident investigations, accessing and analyzing evidence from computers, networks, and data storage devices. Security consultants act as advisors, designing and implementing the strongest possible security solutions based on the needs and threats facing an individual company.
At the top of the chain, CISOs helm a company’s cybersecurity strategy, and must continuously adapt to battle the latest threats.
A career in cybersecurity can take the form of various roles, including penetration tester, chief information security officer (CISO), security engineer, incident responder, security software developer, security auditor, or security consultant.