KPMG Cyber Challenge 2019 tests undergrads in real business case scenarios

  • Global skill shortages are in big data/analytics, cyber-security and AI
  • Academia needs to step up efforts to groom the technology-enabled workforce


The participants of the Cyber Security Challenge and Cyber Technology Challenge

KPMG in Malaysia wrapped up the fifth cycle of its Cyber Challenge 2019, where teams of undergraduates across the country were tested on both their technical skills, interpersonal skills and analytical thinking capabilities.

The competition comprised of two separate challenges: Cyber Security Challenge and Cyber Technology Challenge, which was participated by over 300 undergraduates from 21 universities and colleges.

In the Cyber Security Challenge, undergraduates partook in a capture-the-flag exercise that tested their skills in reverse engineering, steganography, cryptography, programming, network analysis, infrastructure hacking, web application security, as well as digital forensics.

Undergraduates were also challenged to think business mind-like as they were placed in real digital fraud scenarios.

Concurrently, participants of the Cyber Technology Challenge had to go through three different challenges that focused on Blockchain, Threat Intelligence and Operational Technology. The challenges were developed by Netpoleon and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), who were Strategic Partners of the KPMG Cyber Challenge 2019.

These technology-based case studies challenged undergraduates on a variety of skillsets, such as computer programming, computer engineering, and network security.

According to Johan Idris, managing partner of KPMG in Malaysia, the disruptive force of emerging technology increases the pressure on companies to upskill their talents to deliver real results or risk being left behind by the competition. KPMG’s Cyber Challenge is a platform where undergraduates can be exposed to real business issues and be equipped with the knowledge and skills that will be required by employers.

"Each year, the caliber of the undergraduates demonstrated at our Challenge continues to exceed our expectations. This signifies a growing awareness and interest among our undergraduates to develop high-valued skills in the cyber and technology fields. KPMG is proud to contribute our part in helping them get a head start in gaining exposure and experience on the expectations of the industry,” said Johan.  

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.

Alvin Gan, KPMG’s head of IT-enabled Transformation practice in Malaysia, commented that the demand for cyber-security professionals in Malaysia is a call for the academia to step up their efforts to groom the next generation of technology-enabled workforce.

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.

“It’s within this context that KPMG is committed to continue working with the relevant government entities and varied industry leaders to address this talent shortage issue. We’re proud that the Challenge has become a platform to enable the development of a capable workforce that meets employer requirements and thus is fit for the future,” Gan added.

After seven hours of intense competition and testing of their innovative thinking and analytical skills, the champions are Team Cygineers from Multimedia University (MMU) for the Cyber Technology Challenge and Team _SKR from KDU University College for the Cyber Security Challenge. Taking the trophy for the Top University Award was also KDU University College.

“We didn’t expect to win both the Cyber Security Challenge and Top University Award. We are surprised but extremely happy as we were able to learn a lot of technical skills throughout this competition. We also identified areas we can improve on, which can be applied in our future work; we’re excited to pursue this type of work as our career,” said Chin Hong Wei, from KDU University College after receiving the awards.


KPMG Cyber Challenge 2019 tests undergrads in real business case scenarios

KPMG Cyber Challenge 2019 tests undergrads in real business case scenarios

The KPMG Cyber Challenge 2019 was supported by strategic partners Netpoleon and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), with FireEye on board as the challenge sponsor. KPMG also welcomed the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and Al-Rajhi Bank as Supporting Organisations.

First introduced in 2015, the KPMG Cyber Challenge is a team-based competition open to public and private university undergraduates in Malaysia. In the early years, the competition was focused on grooming more talents in cyber-security. To keep pace with technological revolutions, KPMG’s Challenge has evolved to inculcate innovation and critical thinking skills among undergraduates in Malaysia.


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