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Credit: Tecforte (tecforte.com/raising-the-bar-in-cyber-security-education-with-elite/)

Credit: Tecforte (tecforte.com/raising-the-bar-in-cyber-security-education-with-elite/)

Two new initiatives announced by MDEC to strengthen Malaysia’s cybersecurity ecosystem

Last month, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), the lead public sector agency for driving the digital economy in Malaysia, announced two strategic initiatives under the MDEC Talent programme, Platform for Real Industry Driven Project Exchange (PRIDE), to strengthen Malaysia’s cybersecurity ecosystem.

Three partnership agreements were signed by MDEC with the UK's Protection Group International (PGI), the Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU), and security solutions provider Tecforte.

A cyber training academy will be built at APU, which will be a replica of part of PGI’s UK Cyber Academy. It is aimed towards increasing the numbers of Malaysian cyber security professionals through training and certification, as well as  act as a regional training centre, reskilling people and supporting programmes across the Asia-Pacific region.

The Academy will host the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) certified Security Operations Centre-Incident Responder (SOC-IR) as the first showcase of the Centre in academic institutions to encourage practical skills building and enhance students' employability to the cybersecurity industry.

PGI is contributing to the pilot by installing some of its Cyber Training infrastructure at the academy. PGI will deliver the GCHQ certified SOC-IR training to around 70 Malaysian delegates in four sessions.

The trainees will primarily be university lecturers (Premier Digital Tech Institutes of Higher Learning), Malaysia Managed Security Services Providers (MSSP), Government agencies (such as Cyber Security Malaysia), and Critical National Information Infrastructure (CNII) enterprises. PGI will also train two Malaysian trainers so that the new facility will be self-sufficient.

In addition, PGI has committed to sharing knowledge and best practice and provide ongoing support and advice to MDEC’s efforts to build Malaysia’s cyber security industry.

In December 2016 MDEC's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Datuk Yasmin Mahmood led a mission to the UK, resulting in three signed agreements with PGI, Future Cities Catapult and the University of Salford to develop and upscale cybersecurity skills capacity in Malaysia and the Asia Pacific region. This also further strengthened bilateral digital industry ties with the United Kingdom.

HE Vicki Treadall CMG MVO, British High Commissioner to Malaysia, said, “In June 2016, the UK and Malaysia signed an MoU to jointly promote the adoption of digital economy solutions. Our tech partnership has since grown in breadth and depth, extending to new areas of cyber security and smart cities. The partnership formalised today adds a new dimension to our collaboration as we see the UK tech industry and Malaysian academia joining hands. I am confident that the programme will help address the gap in cyber skill set necessary for the development of the tech sector, as well as encouraging cyber research between the UK and institutions in the region.”

Mr Sebastian Madden from PGI said, "Today's agreement with MDEC and APU is a significant step towards establishing a Far East version of PGI's Cyber Academy. It will act as our regional training hub and provide an alternative delivery option through which all our international clients can access PGI's high-quality, UK government certified, cyber security skills training. We are very excited about the potential for this partnership, which plays a major role in the PGI Cyber Academy's international expansion. We are proud that our Cyber Security training will play a role in bringing economic benefits to Malaysia by enabling its digital economy and helping it's talented young graduates access well-paid cyber security roles around the world."

Datuk Dr Parmjit Singh, CEO of APU who witnessed the agreement received by Professor Ron Edwards, Vice Chancellor of APU, commented, "APU is mindful of the need to rapidly develop a sustainable talent pool to meet the immediate cybersecurity talent shortage, I am happy to that the University will also host the live SOC learning platform to drive and facilitate more quality research and innovation development."

Meanwhile, Tecforte launched its Community Outreach Program, ELITE (Elevating IT Education), Cybersecurity Education Program in Malaysia in partnership with APU. ELITE aims to provide University students with industry-like experience in cybersecurity operations to ensure career readiness and employability.

Through the ELITE initiative, an on-campus security operation centre (SOC) will be set up, using Tecforte’s Security Information & Event Management (SIEM) technology. Students will receive hands-on experience in performing real-time security monitoring, fortifying network defence with global threat intelligence, and launching faster and more accurate response on cybersecurity incidents in Cybersecurity Operations Center by June 2018.

These new initiatives re in line with national Digital Economy objectives and are expected to enable the local cybersecurity services companies' capabilities to expand to the ASEAN cybersecurity services market.

During the official document exchange ceremony held at APU, MDEC Chief Executive Officer Datuk Yasmin Mahmood cited the strong growth potential of ASEAN’s digital economy which could add US$1 trillion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the next 10 years. Malaysia’s own digital economy has been contributing nearly 18% of the country’s GDP. However, rising cyber threats and risks could impede trust in the digital economy and affect its resilience.

Rapid technological evolution is making threat monitoring and response more difficult, especially with the rise of encryption, multi-cloud operations, proliferation of the IoT and the convergence of operation technology (OT) and IT.

"In addition, the increase in trade, capital flows and cyber linkages across ASEAN countries imply that the cyber threat landscape will generate even greater complexity in the future, further escalating the region’s cybersecurity challenge," added Datuk Yasmin explaining the rationale for these two new initiatives.

"This is a market driven continuous innovation strategy, focusing on collaboration between industry, academia and government, to deliver the relevant outcomes for Malaysia's Digital Economy journey. These moves will help to identify gaps and pilot critical skillset development within academia, and up-skill cybersecurity industry talent to produce high income professionals," concluded Datuk Yasmin.

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