With quantum computing threats looming, are South-east Asia’s governments plugging cyber talent gaps quickly enough? One data scientist says No.

However, the field of cybersecurity is very broad, ranging from research-and-development to technology implementation and system integration to operations, incident response, to policy and crisis management.

Quek Han Yang, Chief Data Scientist, Ensign Labs, Ensign InfoSecurity

The latter is especially critical given the rapid shifts around us in the world of digitalization, and the increasing complexities of cyber threats. These programs should also be designed for different skill competencies and age groups — beginner to advanced; undergraduates to mid-career-change professionals. Also:

    • Internship programs can be designed to engage and inspire youth. Our own internships, for example, have offered over 185 placements to tertiary and post graduate students across South-east Asia.
    • Such targeted internship programs offer a better understanding of cybersecurity operations in the real world, and the different roles available in the industry.
    • Another idea we champion is awarding bond-free scholarships to senior-year students specializing in the relevant degree-level disciplines.
    • Government can support firms to expand such programs by providing training subsidies and tax incentives for individuals and employers that invest in cybersecurity training and certification programs. Important areas of cyber training include understanding and applying cybersecurity principles to projects; network and endpoint security; secure coding practices; use of AI in cybersecurity and cryptography; to name a few.
    • Training should cover the use of tools and technologies commonly used in the industry such as firewalls, endpoint detection and response, AI tools, etc. Soft skills — such as problem-solving, critical thinking skills and effective communication — are vital for equipping cyber professionals to deal with unknowns and crises.

Talents are attracted by several factors, namely:

    • meaningful hard problems
    • resources to tackle hard problems
    • opportunities to translate them into solutions
    • opportunities to rope-in other talented friends into the field