— Writen by Latika Duhan
As India increases its digital presence, a primary criterion is to safeguard its people and information in cyberspace. It is predicted that managing cybercrime alone will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. On an upside, this has created a huge demand for IT professionals with cybersecurity skills.
It is estimated that there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions globally by 2021, according to the report by Cybersecurity Ventures. Even at present, there is a scarcity of cybersecurity professionals, particularly in India. This gap has widened further due to the government’s push for Digital India.
Who are cybersecurity professionals?
Cybersecurity professionals protect the organisations from cyber-attacks by securing networks, servers, and other hardware along with data from potential breaches. These professionals identify and mitigate risks, perform ethical hacking to test for vulnerability, or carry out research on new types of cyberattacks to identify patterns and develop solutions. A variety of jobs are available in this fast-growing field, including information security specialists, auditors, ethical hackers, digital forensics, security consultants, programmers with secure coding skills, incident responders, malware analysts and so on. Moreover, jobs are available in the private as well as government sector.
How to become a cybersecurity professional
A person interested in a career in this field must pursue engineering in computer science and aim to develop a good understanding of programming, computer networks, etc. Additionally, skills like ethical hacking, penetration testing, malware analysis, etc, give an edge to fresh graduates. Knowledge of fields like cryptography, cryptanalysis, steganography, and steganalysis is also essential for anyone willing to develop a career in cybersecurity.
Preparing this workforce is a herculean task for higher educational institutes and requires innovative approaches. Stakeholders such as academic institutions, industry, and the government will have to join hands to design new courses and programmes for training fresh and experienced engineers.
How to choose the right course
Students who are willing to pursue a career in this area should choose programmes and the university carefully. Such programmes should have an ensemble of fundamental courses, specialised cybersecurity courses, application-oriented courses and self-learning components to address the knowledge and skill demands of the students. However, equally important is the actual delivery of such courses in an effective and innovative fashion. A hands-on practice session should constitute a big part of the course delivery that can be designed jointly by experts from academics, industry and governments.
Students should be exposed to the real-time environment through internships, projects, etc. Moreover, emerging problems can be taken up as research projects and students should be encouraged to design solutions for these problems. This will also encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of the students. Since the nature of cyberattacks is evolving rapidly, it is essential to train students to be self-learners. This can be achieved through study-seminars, technical report writing, etc.
Moreover, it is good to acquire industry acknowledged certifications during the undergraduate years. Some of the popular and widely accepted certifications are offered by CCNA, CompTIA, Red Hat, etc. Certificate-level training will mean that you are job-ready.
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If a student is a tech enthusiast and passionate about saving the world from cybercriminals, they should look forward to making a career in this area. By acquiring the right education and gaining appropriate experience, they can be professionals in the cybersecurity world.
Some forward-looking universities are already breaking barriers to provide a better future to their students as they introduce cybersecurity and the programmes associated with it to provide more exposure. It’s time to branch out and evolve as one pursues their ambitions, especially in the field of cybersecurity.
— The author is professor and associate dean, School of Engineering and Technology, Ansal University