Increase in Demand for Cyber Security Graduates in Malaysia Because of Acute Talent Shortage
Malaysia Needs 20,000 Cybersecurity Professionals by 2025
Cyber security professionals are increasingly in demand as businesses continue to battle the growing threat of cybercrime in Malaysia and globally.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.
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. There is an increase in permanent demand for security experts such as security analysts and security architects, cyber threat intelligence analysts, consultants and cyber incident analysts being the most in-demand. Malaysian businesses looking to hire a cyber security specialist must be prepared to pay a higher premium for professionals with these skills as they are in short supply.
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. Cybersecurity Ventures is the world’s leading researcher and publisher covering the global cyber economy found that cybersecurity jobs are expected to reach 1.8 million by 2022. Malaysia targets employing 20,000 cybersecurity professionals 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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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.
Role of 5G in Cybersecurity
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.
Increase in Cybersecurity Spending
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.
Global data analyzed by CyberSecurity Ventures₁, predict that the cost and financial damage to consumers, businesses and government agencies is approximately $6 trillion per year and is expected to grow by 15 percent per year over the next five years.
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 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.
Increase in Cybercrime
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).
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.
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.
Increase in Demand for Cybersecurity Talents
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.
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.
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.
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.
Malaysia’s Potential in Cybersecurity Industry
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)
Global Demand for Cybersecurity Talent
Experts in the field of cybersecurity estimate at least top 10 percent of job opportunities in Malaysia will be related to cybersecurity in the near future. Not only cybersecurity professionals but also ethical hackers, digital forensics, cyber threat intelligence, network defence analyst and cloud solution developers will continue to be in demand.
Source: World Economic Forum (WEF) Report 2021.
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) report 2021, there is a global gap of over 3 million cyber security workforce with 2 million in APAC region alone. Cisco, Symantec, Cybersecurity Ventures, ISACA and Intel have all expressed concerns on global talent shortage respectively, as highlighted in the Cybersecurity Jobs Report 2018-2021 by Cybersecurity Ventures.
Malaysia Needs 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.
How 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.
Certification for Cybersecurity
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.
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.
Sectors in Malaysia that need cybersecurity professionals
A key sector that needs cybersecurity talents is Malaysia’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
SMEs contribute a large percentage to the country’s overall gross domestic product, which stood at 38.2% in 2020, and also employ 48% of the nation’s workforce, said Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) Digital Infrastructure and Services director Wan Murdani Wan Mohamad.
“SMEs are the new big target for cyber attacks because they are not prepared for them.
“They lack the resources and expertise to manage cybersecurity operations,” he said, adding a 2019 study found 84% of SMEs in Malaysia have been compromised by cyber threat incidents.
Another study in 2020 found that 76% of SMEs have suffered more than one cyber attack.
Last year alone, Malaysia recorded 6,512 cybersecurity incidents, he said.
Royal Malaysian Police statistics, he added, show 11,875 cyber crime cases reported, with RM498mil in terms of losses in 2018.
In 2020, the number of cases increased to 14,229, with total losses of RM413mil.
In the period between January and May 2021, the number of incidents recorded stood at 4,615, representing almost one-fold increase in threats and incidents comparatively.
“With the vast growing digital economy, cyber attacks will multiply with higher business impact. We are beginning to see SMEs adopt digital technology either to empower their companies to broaden the market or to improve their service delivery methods,” said Wan Murdani.
As SMEs are a big contributor to Malaysia’s economy, he said it is imperative to ensure that the appropriate safeguards are in place.
Cybersecurity adoption for SMEs and as a whole, he said, is no longer an option but a necessity.
As such, he said MDEC, together with the National Cyber Security Agency (Nacsa) and SME Corporation Malaysia, has set out to develop a community approach of public and private sector collaborative programme, known as the Matrix Cybersecurity SMEs (Matrix), which aims to boost cybersecurity adoption and implementation among SMEs across all sectors in Malaysia.
As cyber threats rapidly grow and evolve, Wan Murdani said 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.
“This is a value add when they become part of the cybersecurity workforce in the future as it accelerates the skills development,” he added.
Additionally, MDEC works closely with universities to identify in-demand skills by industries and embed these skills in students’ learning.
Besides working with the right partners, be it from the public sector, private sector or academia, Wan Murdani said partnerships with government agencies are critical in ensuring the initiatives align with the national agenda and strategy.
“It amplifies the impact and will benefit the university that we work with,” he said.
A lot of money is also being pumped into the cybersecurity sector.
Wan Murdani said 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