Cybersecurity

The curious case of India’s cybersecurity skills gap and prevailing opportunities

Despite a steady increase in demand, India continues to witness a huge shortfall of skilled cybersecurity professionals. A lack of skilled professionals continues to haunt the country that needs about 1 million cybersecurity professionals, according to an estimate by the Data Security Council of India.

In recent years, India has witnessed a sharp rise in the number of cyberattacks. The expansion of the digital ecosystem has accentuated the need for companies to hire trained cybersecurity professionals to deal with new threats. As per a PwC study, the instances of cyberattacks on Indian enterprises surged by 117 percent in 2019 compared to the previous year. However, due to insufficient funding and a crunch of skilled resources, the availability of skilled workforce does not live up to the demand in the industry. As thousands of companies look to hire cybersecurity professionals, the gap in the availability of skilled workforce has widened.

According to an estimate, the shortage of cybersecurity workforce in India is 9 percent higher than the global average. Considering that India is home to several IT companies and addresses the technology requirements of several global companies, this shortage of skilled cybersecurity workforce can be devastating in the long term. Thus, there is an immediate need to rethink the strategy and address the mismatch in the demand and supply of cybersecurity professionals.

The shortage of skilled cybersecurity professional’s vis-a-vis industry demand can hurt India in the near future. At the global level, the cybersecurity workforce needs to grow by 145 percent to bridge the demand supply gap, according to an estimate by Cybersecurity Ventures.

Training and funding are key challenges

Lack of funding continues to impact the supply of skilled professionals in India’s cybersecurity space. Corporate businesses are not making enough investments in cybersecurity training partly because they believe trained professionals will leave for better job prospects. Instead of training employees in cybersecurity, they prefer to hire experienced candidates with necessary skills and expertise.

The dearth of educational institutions that impart cybersecurity training is also a key factor responsible for the shortage of skilled professionals in the country. Currently, a few institutes have entered into income-sharing agreements to train professionals on emerging technologies in cybersecurity. However, in the absence of sufficient institutes and training programs, companies have found it increasingly difficult to recruit the right talent. Also, candidates with formal degrees may not be equipped with key skills required to deal with cybersecurity incidents in a real world scenario. Hence, the need for companies to find and hire suitable professionals remains a key concern.

Government funding is a step in the right direction

The government has taken several initiatives to reduce the supply demand mismatch in the industry. In the Union Budget 2020, the government announced a proposal to launch a specialized cyber forensics university. This move will renew interest in the cybersecurity domain and help to build a robust cybersecurity infrastructure. The industry also welcomed the allocation of 8,000 crore for the National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications that would drive the growth of the country’s cybersecurity sector. In addition, the government’s plan to set up 150 higher education institutes can provide the much-needed fillip to the creation of a world-class infrastructure in the country for cybersecurity training.

The government has set aside 99,300 crore for the education sector that includes 3,000 crore for skill development. Thus, the government should integrate simulation technologies such as Cyber Range to help build cybersecurity capabilities and provide better job opportunities. Cyber Range can train aspiring professionals in realistic environments with in-house tools and infrastructure of a typical organization to impart experiential learning. Cyber Range trains professionals in a simulated environment that helps them learn how to respond to real-world cyberattacks. Along with improvement in individual skills, Cyber Range can enhance the overall coordination of the team to act immediately and prevent fallouts.

Opportunities unlimited

According to NASSCOM, the rising incidents of cyberattacks along with data protection and privacy laws are estimated to lead to a USD 35 billion revenue opportunity and job opportunities for millions of Indian professionals by the year 2025. Cybersecurity would account for about 10% of the revenue generated by India’s IT sector in the same year.

In the absence of many formal institutes that provide cybersecurity training, specialized programs can provide a hands-on approach to prevent and deal with attacks. Also, as threats and risks continue to evolve, formal training may not be adequate to deal with previously unknown issues. Specialized programs can help in constant learning and relearning and provide opportunities to become familiar with new tools and technologies.

DQINDIA Online | dqindia

Rakesh Kharwal, Managing Director, India/South Asia & ASEAN, Cyberbit

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