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Cambodia sorely lacking cybersecurity professionals

Gerald Flynn / Khmer Times Share:
A hand coming through a screen to hack into a personal computer. Photodynamx | Dreamstime.com

Despite being the fastest growing region for internet users in the world, Southeast Asia has still been slow to address the pressing need for training and developing cybersecurity specialists.

“Asean is the world’s fastest-growing internet region, with the user base forecasted to reach 480 million people by 2020,” says Haji Amirudin Abdul Wahab, CEO of CyberSecurity Malaysia and guest speaker at the forthcoming Cyber Security Asia 2019, a two-day event taking place in Phnom Penh this November.

“In 2016, this figure was 260 million, which translates into four million new users coming online each month. Social media is being used by half of Asean’s population of 630 million, making it one the world’s largest social media markets.”

This unprecedented expansion, coupled with emerging technologies, pushes Asean into an ever more connected space and as such will need to align cybersecurity approaches. This, Mr Amirudin argues, brings about an increase in both threats and opportunities.

“AT Kearney said in 2017, Asean countries collectively spent only 0.06 percent of their GDP, or $1.9 billion on cybersecurity which was in contrast to the global average of 0.13 percent,” he says, noting that there is a lack of capacity to address the morphing threat of cybercrime.

According to Mr Amirudin, the global shortage of cybersecurity professionals is estimated to reach more than 2 million by 2019. Cybersecurity Ventures reported that there will be 3.5 million cybersecurity positions that will go unfilled by 2021 due to a shortage of resources.

Evidently the need for greater investment in education and training in this field is set to soar, especially as the risks and threats grow and the attacks increase, the demand for security professionals is expected to rise in response, Mr Amirudin says.

“CyberSecurity Malaysia has a target to produce 10,000 security professionals and as of now, we have produced 9,199 security professionals nationwide,” he explains, adding that Cambodia stands to learn from Malaysia’s approach to cybersecurity.

Through a three-pronged approach CyberSecurity aims to support building local talent and marketable cybersecurity professionals through globally accredited certifications, utilising existing practitioners as cyber gurus in real-world training and raising awareness about the need for further development within the cybersecurity sector.

“This initiative has been accepted by the Organisation of The Islamic Cooperation – Computer Emergency Response Teams [OIC-CERT] and other Asian countries have shown interest in participating to develop their capacity and capabilities.”

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