High Demand for Skilled Cybersecurity Professionals in Malaysia
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According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) report 2021, there is a global gap of over three million cyber security workforce, with two million in the APAC region alone. Frost and Sullivan reports that the potential economic loss from cyberthreats can be estimated at a hefty USD12.2 million, which is more than 4% of the total GDP (USD296 billion).
Cisco, Symantec, Cybersecurity Ventures, ISACA and Intel have all expressed concerns on global talent shortage, as highlighted in the Cybersecurity Jobs Report 2018-2021 by Cybersecurity Ventures.
“Cybersecurity is one of the central pillars of the digital economy, recording more than twice the overall ICT spending growth in the country over the next five years, according to an IDC report. With the recently-launched Malaysia Cyber Security Strategy (MCSS) and MyDIGITAL, 20,000 cyber security knowledge workers are needed by 2025 to support the cybersecurity workforce demand from the industry,” said Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) Chief Executive Officer Surina Shukri.
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.
A study by CyberSecurity Ventures shows that by 2021 there will be a deficit of 3.5 million cyber security professionals in the world 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. According to a report from Talent Pool Report Pro in Oct 2017, top 10% of job opportunities in Malaysia is related to cybersecurity.
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Importance of Cyber Security
The world we live in is networked like a web that includes personal information, our finances, social profile, and even governmental infrastructure. So, cybersecurity by default has become a necessity. Cybersecurity covers everything, from protecting our personally identifiable information to intellectual property from deliberate attempts of damage and theft. The recent cyber-attack on the US major oil and gas pipeline could become one of the most expensive attacks to an economy. It’s also the latest reminder that both the frequency and severity of catastrophic digital shocks on critical infrastructure are on the rise. The increasing digitalization of critical infrastructure sectors such as oil and gas, and the associated industrial systems, is changing the nature of cyber risks. As digitalization drives growth and transition to net-zero emissions, the energy sector’s ecosystem has become increasingly decentralized and complex. According to the 2021 Global Risks Report, cybersecurity failures are among the top mid-term threats facing the world. According to a recent Chubb study, a whopping 84 percent of Malaysian SMEs were victims of cyber incidents in 2020. That speaks volumes about the growing concern among businesses as well as regulators and industry observers
Huge Losses Incurred from Cybersecurity Attacks
Risks are festering, especially as the world leans more towards cloud services and global connectivity. Breaches, or cyber-attacks, are also increasing that puts you and your organisations at the risk of being bruised in the following sectors:
- Economic Loss: Theft of any intellectual property, disruption in trading, corporate information can be cost-intensive. 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.
- Reputational Loss: Loss of future engagement, consumer trust, and poor media output.
- Regulatory Cost: Regulatory fines can be levied against your organisation if it transgresses the data breach or GDPR laws. There has been a significant amount of data breaches which rose to 145% costing $13 million for an organisation. So, cybersecurity should be thorough regardless of your business scale. Computer networks in a time where increased adoption of IoT and cloud services are on the rise, the disruptive nature of cybercrimes will exponentially increase. But with cybersecurity specialist assistance, they can help your organisation minimise the damage and prepare a preemptive framework for you to recover if a cyber attack were to happen.
What is Cybersecurity?
According to Kaspersky, cyber security is the practice of defending computers, servers, mobile devices, electronic systems, networks, and data from malicious attacks. It’s also known as information technology security or electronic information security. The term applies in a variety of contexts, from business to mobile computing, and can be divided into a few common categories.
- Network security is the practice of securing a computer network from intruders, whether targeted attackers or opportunistic malware.
- Application security focuses on keeping software and devices free of threats. A compromised application could provide access to the data its designed to protect. Successful security begins in the design stage, well before a program or device is deployed.
- Information security protects the integrity and privacy of data, both in storage and in transit.
- Operational security includes the processes and decisions for handling and protecting data assets. The permissions users have when accessing a network and the procedures that determine how and where data may be stored or shared all fall under this umbrella.
- Disaster recovery and business continuity define how an organization responds to a cyber-security incident or any other event that causes the loss of operations or data. Disaster recovery policies dictate how the organization restores its operations and information to return to the same operating capacity as before the event. Business continuity is the plan the organization falls back on while trying to operate without certain resources.
- End-user education addresses the most unpredictable cyber-security factor: people. Anyone can accidentally introduce a virus to an otherwise secure system by failing to follow good security practices. Teaching users to delete suspicious email attachments, not plug in unidentified USB drives, and various other important lessons is vital for the security of any organization.
Increase in Cyber Attacks
A report by RiskBased Security revealed that a shocking 7.9 billion records worldwide have been exposed by data breaches in the first nine months of 2019 alone. This figure is more than double (112%) the number of records exposed in the same period in 2018. With the scale of the cyber threat set to continue to rise, the International Data Corporation predicts that worldwide spending on cyber-security solutions will reach a massive $133.7 billion by 2022. 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. A total of 838 cybersecurity incidents have been reported to CyberSecurity Malaysia between March 18, 2020 and April 7,2020 the same time period that the Malaysian government invoked a movement control order (MCO) that heavily restricted free movements around the country. The number of reported incidents is a staggering 82.5 percent increase compared to the same time frame last year, with the majority of cases involving some form of cyberbullying, fraud, or intruding into an unauthorized system. Phishing and email scams claiming to contain COVID-19 content represent a fair amount of the fraudulent cases, mirroring the uptick in email, SMS, and other deceptive tactics that have been plaguing Australian web users.
What are the Popular Types of Cyber Threats Faced by Industries
With Cybercrime related damage is projected to hit $6 trillion by 2021, here’s a closer look at some of the Most popular Cyber Threats faced by industries:
- Phishing attacks Phishing attacks carefully target people with messages to fool people into clicking on a link that will install malware exposing all their sensitive data. The antics of phishing exploits have become increasingly sophisticated with machine learning, helping attackers craft convincing fake machines in the hopes that their victims fall prey.
- Ransomware attacks Ransomeware costs its victims billions of dollars annually. The hacker employs a technology that can hold an entire database hostage unless paid. Experts have inspected that the rise of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin has helped ransomware attacks get traction since Bitcoin allows anonymous transactions, making it difficult for authorities to track.
- Cryptojacking Cryptojacking is a cyber threat trend where the hackers hijack third-party home mining devices. Hackers can earn a significant amount of money by piggybacking the host system since crypto-mining requires huge amounts of resources. Cryptrojacking can be costly since it’s quite difficult to track and allocate an immediate solution.
- Cyber-Physical attacks Technology that has enabled us to be more agile also puts us at greater risk and critical failure. Hacks targeting transportation systems, water treatment hubs, and electrical grids represent a major trend in cyber threats.
- IoT attacks With an expected reach of 75 million connected devices by 2025, IoT is growing to be more ubiquitous. Connected devices like tablets, webcams, household appliances, automobiles, home security systems, and even medical devices put you at greater risk. Once hacked, the hacker will have complete control over your IoT network and can wreak havoc – overload networks or lockdown essential devices for financial exploits.
- Social Engineering Hackers are evolving with time and now they are opting for psychological exploits as well. Social engineers are hackers that will use human psychology to pry out sensitive information via phone calls or social media.
Growing demand for Cyber Security Professionals in Malaysia
There is a cybercrime epidemic going on and surging rapidly each year. Governments and companies have continually struggled to hire qualified professionals to assist them in building a better security framework. However, there is a dearth in candidates with over a million unfulfilled positions globally which can potentially rise to 3.5 million by 2021. The gap between the demand for information and computer technology (ICT) talent and the supply of that talent is large. Study indicates that the existing situation cannot even supply half of the demand by 2020, about 500,000 human capital educated in science and technology will be needed in Malaysia. From this number, at least 30,000 graduates are required in the ICT job market. IT jobs are expected to increase dramatically in the next 10 years and choosing to study a course in Software Engineering, Information Technology (IT) or Computer Science is the best choice that you can make. 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. 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
What is the Education Pathway into a Cyber Security Career?
Due to such high demand and perks that are being offered to professionals, no wonder there has never been a better time than today to start a career in Cyber Security. Most of the working professionals in the field have supplemented their skills through certification courses. So, if you are already in the IT field and aiming towards cybersecurity, the certification programmes are the most common choices. Most companies will expect their cybersecurity candidate to have a bachelor’s’ degree in computer science, cybersecurity, software engineering, information technology or any technical field. If you are just after high school, then you have two choices which are going for a Pre-University Course or a Diploma in Information Technology course. Students who are sure that they want to study cybersecurity can go for the 2-year Diploma in Information Technology (IT) and upon completion, you will enter into Year 2 of the Cybersecurity degree. You can also go for the Foundation in Computing and IT for 1 year and then enter Year 1 of the degree programme. External Pre-University programmes like the A-Levels, AUSMAT, CIMP, MUFY, etc are other pathways into the cybersecurity degree. However, the subjects would be general and not related to computing hence they may not prepare you as well for the degree course.
What are the Skills Required to Become a Cybersecurity Professional?
Having technical skills will be beneficial if you are trying to figure out how to get into cybersecurity, especially if you want to land cyber security jobs in technical positions like Security Engineer, Cryptographer, and Penetration tester. While on the job, you might have to decode certain computer-related aspects at a faster pace. But for a cybersecurity course work to commence, you’d be required to have a thorough understanding of the following concepts:
- Mathematical concepts like linear algebra, arithmetic, calculus, matrices, and multivariable optimisation.
- Python programming happens to be a core element for working as an IT professional.
- Acquaintance with database and querying platforms like SQL.
- Valid CCNA Security Certification or CCIE certification. A 600-199 SCYBER exam needs to be cleared for you to be a certified professional.
Other skills that you will need to learn are:
- Anti-virus, and anti-malware, DLP
- Computer networking, routing, TCP/IP, and switching
- Ethical hacking, threat modelling, and secure coding practices
- Intrusion detection/prevention and firewall protocol
- ITIL, COBIT, and ISO 27001/27002frameworks.
- Java, PHP, C++, C#, or C programming languages
- NIST, GLBA, PCI, HIPAA, and SOX compliance assessments
- Penetration and vulnerability and IDS/IPS testing
- Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
- Windows, UNIX and Linux operating systems
Which are the top private universities in Malaysia to study Cyber Security?
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