Experts underscore need for getting more cybersecurity professionals in APAC
MANILA, Philippines — Cybersecurity experts underscored on Tuesday the pressing need for building capacity and investing in education to make the cyberspace more secure.
During the 2nd Asia Pacific Online Policy Forum organized by Kaspersky, Dr. Greg Austin, Professor of Cybersecurity, Strategy and Diplomacy at the University of New South Wales in Australia, pointed to the need to attract more cybersecurity experts.
Attended by more than 1,000 participants including executive officers from various sectors and top government officials, the forum focused on how policies and strategies are shaped in APAC and how policymakers should act ahead of cybercriminals.
“Globally, we are not making enough cybersecurity professionals,” Austin said. “Most countries are not prepared to make investments in education for the cybersecurity ambitions they talk about. Digital transformation and defense’s capacity building must include educational transformation.”
According to Austin, the Australian Cyber Security Strategy 2020 will invest $26 million in education out of the total $1.67 billion allocated in the budget, for over 10 years to help create a highly secure online environment for Australians, their businesses, and essential services.
Austin suggested that graduates from colleges and universities should be exposed to real-life simulations, drills, and networking to improve their cybersecurity skills and awareness.
Meanwhile, Azleyna Ariffin, Principal Assistant Director of Malaysia’s National Cyber Security Agency (NACSA) also echoed the need for getting more cybersecurity professionals. He said this should be a part of a nation’s strategy.
“We also need to focus on developing skills and knowledge in cybersecurity so that it will be a more effective cooperation if we share the same level of skills and understanding with regards to threats and cybersecurity,” she said as she noted the rise in the use of technology and in the number of cyber threats amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kaspersky noted that this is among the priorities of the Malaysia Cybersecurity Strategy from 2020 to 2024, which has an allocated budget of $434 million to improve the cybersecurity management and capability of the country.
Aside from formal education, Ariffin also stressed the need to increase public awareness regarding the threats lurking online.
For his part, Nur Achmadi Salmawan, Director of Indonesia’s National Critical Information Infrastructure, National Cyber and Crypto Agency (BSSN) shared that BSSN involves several government agencies, the academic sector, and the society to raise cybersecurity awareness among Indonesians.
He said that BSSN launched in December last year the Draft National Cyber Security Strategy for Indonesia, which aims to combat technical threats and social threats in the country.
Nguyen Huy Dung, Vice Minister of Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications, meanwhile, highlighted the four-layer protection model in Vietnam, which involves an in-house team (first layer), 24/7 cybersecurity services by a professional provider (second layer), an independent security audit (3rd layer), and independent monitoring by the National Cybersecurity Center of Authority of Information Security, Ministry of Information and Communications (4th layer).
Cybersecurity and the pandemic
The need for investing in education to raise more cybersecurity professionals also seemed magnified by pandemic, with Kaspersky chief executive officer Eugene Kaspersky pointing at how the latest cybersecurity threat landscape and trends were amplified by the current health situation.
In particular, he noted the shift of the targets of cybercriminals—from smartphones and personal devices to industrial control systems and the Internet of Things.
“Since the beginning of social confinement, we’ve been observing how the global cybersecurity landscape is being impacted by the pandemic. On one hand, people are at greater risk of cyber-intrusions due to their working remotely and spending more time online,” the Kaspersky executive said.
“On the other, there are more cybercriminals, and they’re getting more skilled and experienced. In 2020, we saw unique malicious file detection rise 20 to 25 percent a day,” he added.
He reiterated Kaspersky’s report in November last year which showed that the company is monitoring more than 200 cybercrime gangs responsible for launching “hyper-targeted attacks” against banks, governments, or critical infrastructure.
“Our analysts’ research-based data shows us the core of the problem—we’ve reached a point where defending cyberspace is crucial to a country’s economy and its population’s safety,” Kaspersky said.
“Attacks on critical infrastructure, e.g. healthcare institutions, power grids, water systems, etc. have crossed over from the fictional realm to the physical world,” he concluded.
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