Asia Pacific University addresses huge vacuum for cybersecurity talent
By Kiran Kaur Sidhu October 8, 2018
- Launches Cyber Security Talent Zone with US$1.9 mil investment with certification
- Government involvement shows significance of national cybersecurity, says MDEC
“IN Malaysia, we are a little behind and very exposed to cybersecurity risk,” says Dr Parmjit Singh (pic), the chief executive officer (CEO) of APIIT Education Group, at the launch of Asia Pacific University’s Cyber Security Talent Zone on October 5.
The Minister of Communications and Multimedia, Gobind Singh Deo, who attended the launch also stressed in his speech, how cybersecurity has become a pressing issue. “This initiative is timely as the cybersecurity talent demand in Malaysia will hit 10,500 by year 2020.”
That’s why the raison d'etre of the Cyber Security Talent Zone is to increase the number of technically competent cybersecurity professionals within Malaysia. Chances are they will be snapped up by industry even before they graduate with Parmjit sharing: “I would say the employability rate is at 300% with each of our graduating cohorts of around 200 over cyber security graduates getting taken up even before they graduate. There is a huge vacuum for cybersecurity experts locally.”
The on-campus Cyber Security Talent Zone was set up with an initial investment of between US$1.7 million to US$1.9 million (RM7 million to RM8 million) with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) providing APU with a grant. However, Yasmin Mahmood, CEO of MDEC declined to reveal the amount.
“This public-private partnership goes to show just how important cybersecurity is. This is no longer just an IT or technical discussion at company level. The impact of any breaches is very significant in terms of national security and economic loss,” Yasmin said, adding that honing talent in this area is necessary.
Parmjit acknowledges the role sponsors have played, and not just those who contributed from a monetary aspect. “This is where our sponsors have played a big part, where more important than the monetary contribution for hardware and software is the sharing of skills.”
The university has forged ties with PGI Ltd from UK to skill up and certify its staff and students. As for academia partnerships, local security management player TecForte Sdn Bhd as well as Cyber Test Systems Pte Ltd from France are in collaboration with APU.
The Cyber Security Talent Zone features a Security Operations Centre (SOC), a collaboration with TecForte, allowing students to analyse occurences of cyber-attacks and plan counteractive measures through real-time data. What’s unique about this SOC is that it is manned 24x7 by APU students who are Cyber Security, Forensic Computing and Information Security majors.
“The SOC is set up according to international standards in all aspects including temperature, layout and humidity conditions,” shared Parmjit.
The zone also features a Cyber Defence Centre, a collaboration with Cyber Test Systems, with equipment valued at US$578,000 (RM2.4 million) to simulate highly complex cyber-attacks in a hyper realistic environment. Other features of the facility include the Forensic & Cyber Security Research Center, an existing research centre for student and faculty research and the Forensics Mock Court to present findings of investigation reports. APU has also located its Cisco Networking Academy and Center of Research & Development of IoT to the Cyber Security Talent Zone.
This concentration of cyber security services, technologies and training led Greg Fresnais, founder and CEO of Cyber Test Systems to say that the launch and operations of the Cyber Security Talent Zone now makes APU the university with the best equipped cyber centre of any university in Asia Pacific.
This further reinforces APU's position as the leading cybersecurity university in Malaysia. Based on data from MDEC, Parmjit claims that APU’s 600 cyber security students are more than double that of the next largest university in the country.