Challenge, teamwork, and talent in the ever-growing world of cyber security

Two weeks ago, the Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation, Honourable Silvio Schembri, launched the second phase of the National Cyber Security Awareness and Education Campaign for the coming years. The Campaign addresses one of the key goals of the National Cyber Security Strategy launched in September 2016. The Campaign aims to focus its energies and approach towards the particular needs, expectations and challenges in cyber security of the various strata of the Maltese society and economy.

A number of specific education and training cyber security initiatives, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, are thus being carried out.

One of these key activities is a two day capture the flag event, the Malta Cyber Crusades 2018, which was organised by the Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA), under the direction of the National Cyber Security Strategy Steering Committee within the remit of the Parliamentary Secretariat for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation. The event, which targeted individuals of seventeen years of age and over, was held at the MITA Data Centre in Santa Venera on Friday afternoon, 26th October and all day on Saturday 27th October.

The aim of the Malta Cyber Crusades 2018 was to enhance the ability of individuals, who perhaps through their studies or through their experience may have already been quite well versed in the technicalities, intricacies and challenges of the world of cyber security. The event also aimed to entice individuals towards eyeing the possibility of cyber security as a potential work opportunity for the near future.

 

It needs to be borne in mind that cyber skills shall be increasingly needed- even on a domestic level – especially with expected global increase in cybercrime coupled with increased adoption of digital emerging technologies.

According to research in 2017 by Cybersecurity Ventures, a world leading researcher on the global cyber economy, the number of unfilled cyber security positions on a global scale is expected to reach 3.5 million by 2021. Furthermore, according to the 2017 Global Information Security Workforce study commissioned by (ISC)2 a world leading cybersecurity and IT security organisation, Europe alone shall face a skills shortage of 350,000 cyber security workers by 2022!

Working in cyber security is not doom and gloom as it may appear. On the contrary, it can be an exciting job where workers can realise their potential worth and be of benefit to society as ethical hackers or defenders in continuous, unrelenting cyber-attacks on most organisations and nations worldwide. The Malta Cyber Crusades 2018 was based upon the notion that cyber security could be fun too and learning on the topic could be possible even through games and in a team-work approach!  Therefore, it involved a healthy competition in undertaking the challenge, among a number of teams each having three or four participants- a number of whom hailing from national as well as from private tertiary educational institutions.

The participants were not thrown into the deep end of the cyber security challenge without prior guidance on the rules of the game as well as adequate preparation, involving coaching as well as mentoring by experts of local and international repute. Furthermore, the participants were prepped up not simply on the technical side of cyber security only but also on the soft skills aspects too – particularly in terms of presentation skills. The teams were assessed both from the technical aspect of the challenge as well as from their effective presentation of the challenge outcome!

Each participant of the winning team was awarded accordingly at the closing ceremony held on Saturday evening. The adjudication panel of experts has also identified participants who have shown potential aptitude in cyber security for their potential participation in future cyber security challenge events, held annually overseas on a European scale.

 

 

Time for social activities, throughout the two-day event were not lacking either. As stated earlier, Malta Cyber Crusades 2018 aimed to convey the message that cyber security is not for loners, but essentially calls for teamwork at all times for its effectiveness.

The Malta Cyber Crusades 2018 is not seen as a one-off event, especially now looking back at its successful completion! Such event, as in other cyber-security learning opportunities, has also been possible through collaboration with all relevant stakeholders. Ultimately working together can begin to make the difference in cybersecurity talent shortage and bring amazing opportunities for employment and growth in the ever-expanding field of cyber security!

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