Cyber security
With cybersecurity, there is no such thing as optimum protection. Organisations need to maintain a war footing to take on the menace. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Early last month, a programming error from Facebook, along with WhatsApp and Instagram, went down for six hours, causing a substantial drop in FB’s share price.

On May 7, Colonial Pipeline, the largest petroleum pipeline company in the US, was the target of a ransomware attack and forced to shut down major operations for a whole day. In the weeks preceding the attack, Colonial Pipeline was trying to fill two tech security leadership positions.

In July, a sophisticated malware, Pegasus, infected more than 50,000 smartphones of journalists, heads of state, ministers and prime ministers. This malware is so sophisticated that only a few institutions have the knowledge and ability to detect and remove it. These are just three examples of the increasing importance of cybersecurity and the shortage of professionals who can tackle the menace.

In the UAE, the Projects of the 50 announcements showcase the nation’s ambitious digital roadmap. As technology becomes more creative, so does the need for enhanced cybersecurity. This raises a question: what is the answer to mitigate this growing concern?

Filling job gaps

Cybersecurity is being prioritized as the next hurdle to tackle, particularly given that the region is witness to a 250 per cent increase in cyberattacks last year alone, according to Mohamed al-Kuwaiti, who heads the UAE Government’s cybersecurity operations. But, according to estimates, there is a worldwide shortage of more than 3.12 million jobs in cybersecurity, and the State of Cybersecurity 2021 Report from ISACA doesn’t bode well for the MENA region either, with a current deficit of 300,000 jobs.

How universities can help

A key role to fill the gap for cybersecurity roles in the region rests with universities, and a huge onus is placed on their offered programmes in computer science and engineering degrees. In most organization a university degree is required for entry-level positions in cyber security. A career in computer science provides the fundamental theoretical and hands-on skills to be one.

In positions such as a cybersecurity architect, cybersecurity auditor, cybersecurity software developer and vulnerability assessor, you will be able to design systems that thwart potential cybersecurity attacks, assess how digitally secure an enterprise is, and use those skills to advise enterprises in enhancing the protection of their information assets.

While these are just a handful of positions available within the cybersecurity category, equipping students with such skillsets can also provide many financial benefits for employers such as reducing cybercrime costs.

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, in its Cyberwarfare in the C-Suite 2021 report, it expects cybercrime costs to grow by 15 per cent a year over the next five years, reaching $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, up from $3 trillion in 2015.

Providing additional educational platforms and expand knowledge in cybersecurity will be crucial…