The pandemic has put the spotlight on organisations’ data protection and privacy security, however there exists a serious shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals in India. RV Raghu, Director, Versatilist Consulting India and an expert on cybersecurity, member of ISACA Emerging Trends Working Group shares his insights on the existing trends in cybersecurity and why the country needs more qualified experts. Excerpts:
- What are the top five reasons to take up cybersecurity positions/jobs?
The number one reason is that we have a lot of opportunities because of the fast pace of the industry. Primarily, the first thing to get a job should be the availability of opportunities. There is a huge demand in the industry but the supply is less. Cybersecurity is a perennial option. Since, the demand for cybersecurity professionals is more than the supply, it is a well remunerated profession. With the span of time, cybersecurity is not just a core technology sector but it has also become a top notch requirement at the current times.
- Why does India have a large number of unfilled vacancies in cyber security?
Lack of human resources is one of the major causes for unfilled vacancies in cyber security. According to findings from the State of Cybersecurity 2021 Part 1 survey report from ISACA, the cybersecurity industry continues to experience ongoing challenges in hiring and retention, with 49 per cent of the respondents saying that they have unfilled positions in the stream. Among a host of factors plaguing the industry, poor financial incentives stood out as another most visible reason that cybersecurity professionals are leaving their jobs, at 45 per cent, followed by limited promotion and development opportunities at 44 per cent.
- With the onset of the pandemic, has there been an increased demand for cybersecurity experts and across which areas?
The pandemic has brought the technology to the forefront. With the increasing need for remote working, people are relying more on technology. Technology has to be very robust. To understand technology, people should learn about the business side of it and the cybersecurity side of it. Both should come together in a remote working environment. The pandemic has put the spotlight on organisations’ data protection and privacy. As per the ISACA survey, 42 per cent of the respondents felt they were appropriately funded for security function while more than half the respondents said that spending on security technology initiatives has increased during the pandemic.
- What are the new field of areas to specialise in cybersecurity?
With the rise of smartphones, ‘mobile computing’ has become a new trend in the cybersecurity world. It is a simple device with the internet which is opening a lot of avenues. The opportunities for students have increased due to the open source technology as well. There is a lot of openly shared data. Application security is a niche area for students, with IoT being another emerging technology among learners these days. Students must have demonstrable knowledge backed by professional certificates to move ahead in the job market.
- What kind of demand do you see in the next five years for cybersecurity professionals?
The global study by ISACA corroborates the on-ground reality in India. According to an estimate, the shortage of the cybersecurity workforce in India is nine per cent higher than the global average. India needs about one million cybersecurity professionals, according to an estimate by the Data Security Council of India. The job opportunities are definitely going to grow because cybersecurity is not a technical play. It requires a 360degrees view to work at the front end as well as the back end, meeting the demand of the customer eventually. The growth is going to happen across the value chain with inter-mixed business.
- How can the upcoming generation learn cybersecurity as a professional course and which all organisations are currently offering such courses?
There are a lot of avenues opening for entry level certificate courses. Historically, students were hired through campus placements by technology companies and later trained at offices. Today, it is much easier to pick up skills like cybersecurity with the increase in online courses. Though, it is important that the skill should come from a very reputed source and hands-on training should be given to the students. The Government of India is encouraging the uptake of cybersecurity. In fact, many states have their own incubation centres for developing the cybersecurity products within the country. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Data Security Council of India, The National Skills Database are some of the key promoters of cybersecurity in India. Apart from these organisations, private enterprises are also providing such opportunities. It is necessary for them as well to upgrade their skills. Third parties like ISACA, a non-profit organisation, are also offering such courses to contribute in cybersecurity initiatives.
- What is the future of cybersecurity in India?
The future of cybersecurity is very bright in India. It is a great time for young professionals to get into the field. India has always been a knowledge hub for the world. We have been doing a lot of cutting-edge tasks for enterprises globally who have smart teams here. The opportunities for cybersecurity are always available since technology is taking-off. Government’s investment and contribution to technology has also added to the various opportunities in the cybersecurity world.