Dec. 7, 2016
Image (CIO) Cyber security leaders
National ICT agencies MDEC (Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation), and CyberSecurity Malaysia recently joined a gathering of security researchers in Kuala Lumpur to focus on industry challenges and opportunities for 2017.
With Malaysia on the cusp of its self-proclaimed 'Year of the Digital Economy' 2017, cyber security concerns took up the forefront as security remains is an issue for both foreign and local investors into the country.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said, in tabling Budget 2017 in October, that next year is set to be Malaysia's 'Digital Year'.
The digital economy (which includes financial activities, and eCommerce among others) accounted for 17.8 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) for last year.
At the Association of Anti-Virus Asia Researchers (AVAR) annual conference and seminar here recently, discussions tackled how security professionals will be ramping up their capabilities to cater to the increased flow of business and private information going online.
"Next year is going to be an interesting year for us, and we are happy that the work that we have done, has been acknowledged, and the importance of the digital economy has been recognised by the government," said MDEC vice president Norhizam Abdul Kadir (pic below).
The talent key
"We will be carrying out various initiatives in 2017 towards further increasing the importance of the digital economy, not only from the industry standpoint but also from the adoption standpoint - and of course security plays an important role," said Norhizam.
He said that though "MDEC is hoping to increase the digital economy contribution this year and moving onwards, it has no specific target in mind."
"Nonetheless, the managed security sector alone is expected to be valued at RM1.6 billion by 2020," said Norhizam.
F-Secure Corporation chief research officer Mikko Hypponen (pic above) said: "As someone who represents a foreign company employing engineers here in Malaysia. When we look at digitalisation and how it affects the local economies in different countries, it really is a talent question and an education question."
"We have been running a research centre here in Kuala Lumpur for 10 years and we are very happy with the level of engineers and researchers we are able to hire here, which tells us a lot about the education system and universities in Malaysia.
"That is exactly what governments like Malaysia should be doing: building the capabilities of its people so it can continue to get better growth rates with the higher use of technology and better use of digitalisation," he added.
"With that, Malaysia will be able to attract more international companies like ours to come and set up centres here. We are very happy with our cooperation with the Malaysian government over the last 10 years," Hypponen said.
MDEC's Norhizam said that the RM283 billion (US$63.68 billion) of digital investments into the country over the "last 20 years is a great testament to Malaysia's ability to attract investors and the 160,000 highly-skilled jobs created over the same period."
Monitoring cyber space
Cybersecurity Malaysia senior vice president and digital forensics scientist Dr Aswami Ariffin (pic below) meanwhile emphasised the role of government in helping the private sector and general public combat cybercrime.