India’s requirement for skilled workforce in cyber security

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Despite having the second largest number of Internet users in the world, India lags behind on the key technological aspect of cyber security. Cyber security involves taking measures to prevent the unauthorized and criminal use of data stored electronically.  As our lives become increasingly proliferated with technology, the number of platforms from which our information can be misused has increased. The nature of cyber threats has also become more sophisticated. Perhaps the most memorable example of such a threat in the recent past was the spread of the ransomware WannaCry that caused widespread disruption and crippled the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. Though security experts were able to find a killswitch for WannaCry, it is only a matter of time before the idea evolves and takes more sinister forms.

It has slowly become evident that India is not equipped to handle large-scale cyber security threats. According to the 2017 Global Information Security Workforce study there will be a global shortage of 1.8 million information security workers by 2022.  A survey by the outbound hiring firm Belong states that the demand for cyber security experts outstrips the supply by 3 times based on research data provided by firms over the course of 12 months. When it comes to India, Kelly Services India has witnessed a 10-15% increase in demand for cyber security professionals. According to an ISACA survey 87% of respondents agreed to the fact that India faces a major shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals.

India needs to grow its skilled workforce in cyber security. This will not only help fulfill local demand but can be used as an opportunity to fulfill global demand for cyber security professionals.

Another problem arises when examining the resources available to train people for such jobs. Many universities have started offering programs in cyber security. However, framing the curriculum is difficult, as hands on experience is needed in order to train experts. Most recruiters find these programs to be lacking. According to Shuchi Nagpal, the chief education officer of the Asian School of Cyber Laws, “There are colleges but often these concentrate on teaching technology rather than proactive techniques of cyber security and investigation. Technology evolves; the basic techniques don’t. With the evolving ecosystem, we will see larger numbers”.  Training in cyber security also requires massive investment from the universities, as they must build labs and other infrastructure to support this education.

Since there is a shortage of cyber security experts in India, a suggestion to work around this problem would be to partner with industry experts from around the globe. Ransomware has caused damage all across India yet there are no professional academics working on it. In order to build the skills of students in this area, universities could partner with professionals or other universities that conduct research in the field of cyber security.

Industries that are particularly vulnerable to cyber threats in India are healthcare as well as banking and digital payment systems. Since India is the operational hub of several global IT companies, the shortage of cyber security professionals affects the economy of India as well as the rest of the world. The It sector in India employs over 2.5 million people and cyber security threats may impede the progress of the IT sector.  To combat the cyber security skills shortage India must attract and retain millennial workers. Another aspect is the lack of awareness of the importance of cyber security among the general population as well as the surplus of jobs available in the field. Awareness programs as well as better-equipped training facilities are required in order to fill India’s cyber security skills shortage.

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India is marred with a complex social, economic and political structure, which requires innovative solutions to solve the most difficult problems of today. India is also a land of opportunities despite its challenges, mainly due to its demographic dividend and cultural diversity. The Dialogue is founded with the vision of harnessing the opportunities present in India today by reinventing the policy and political discourse in order to drive a forward looking narrative for the country.