Expert highlights importance of honing cybersecurity skills

MUSCAT: As protection of organisations and government agencies from data breaches and attacks is of utmost importance, the demand for cybersecurity professionals is growing at a fast pace, said Dr Henry Pearson, Cyber Security Ambassador at the Department for International Trade (DIT) in the United Kingdom. While giving a talk on “global careers in cyber security” organised by the British Embassy in Muscat in association with SQU, Dr Pearson stressed in the need for skill development and advanced education in the field of cyber security.
The talk, held on Tuesday at SQU, was attended by Dr Ali bin Saud Al Bimani, the Vice Chancellor of SQU, Hamish Cowell, British Ambassador to Oman, and staff and students from SQU.
Dr Pearson said that cybersecurity is gaining importance, as the scale of cybersecurity threat is significant worldwide. “Cybercrime costs the UK several billion pounds per year and 46 per cent of all businesses identified at least one cyber-attack in the last year, with 74 per cent of directors regarding cybersecurity as a high priority issue for them. McAfee estimate says that cybercrime cost the global economy as much as $600 billion in 2017. New technologies and connections mean new threats to some countries and new opportunities to others. Cybercrime impacts nearly every location on the globe,” he said.
Dr Pearson added that the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) supports the most critical organisations in the UK, the wider public sector, industry, SMEs as well as the public. “When incidents do occur, we provide effective incident response to minimise harm to the UK, help with recovery, and learn lessons for the future. Cyber incidents can take many forms, such as denial of service, malware, ransomware or phishing attacks. Universities and research institutions are often targeted for cyberattacks. From online banking and shopping, to email and social media, it is more important than ever to stake steps that can prevent cyber criminals getting hold of our accounts, data, and devices,” he observed.
Dr Pearson said that anyone with a background in computer science, electrical engineering or mathematics could start a career in cybersecurity. “However, when it comes to advanced research in cybersecurity people with background in a wide range of disciplines such as economics, psychology, sociology, international relations and criminology are involved. There is a need to increase the number of people interested and who have the right aptitude in pursuing a career in cybersecurity and doing research in the field. In the UK, 10 academic centres of excellence are specialised in cybersecurity research. A number of reputed universities in the UK are offering certified degrees in cybersecurity. Four research units offer advanced research facilities in cyber security research and three centres offer doctoral training facility in the area of cybersecurity,” he added.