22 Jul 2015 18:31 IST

On cyber sentinels and why the world needs them

Cyber resilience is the next big thing in the IT industry, offering several growth opportunities

Back in 2000, when I made the decision to choose information security as my next assignment, the sector was, up until then, perceived as one that was only related to user access management. Over the next 15 years the sector transformed from being called Information Security to being referred to as Cyber Security and today, it is called Cyber Resilience. This is mainly because the rules of the game are always changing and in keeping with its opponents constantly evolving, thereby throwing up newer challenges. PwC’s Security Survey 2012 correctly points out that security strategies are often found to be failing due to the boundary-less evolving environment.

This change has been fast, steep and extremely dynamic, and now Cyber Resilience is a well-defined sector with multiple professional specialisations. And I believe it will continue to flourish in theforeseeable future because of two important aspects:

1. Digital technology adoption and innovation will continue to grow rapidly and

2. Threat actors are not going away any time soon

So the world, and not just India, needs Cyber Sentinels and that too in plenty and fast!

To further define the scenario, in the past 15 years’ journey of information security turning into cyber resilience, we have been able to train less than 1,00,000 cyber security professionals in India, serving both domestic and international markets. With the speed at which the profession is growing we would need close to 1 million cyber security professionals by 2025 just to service India's cyber security industry (across domestic/overseas business and services/products).

Cyber resilience is the next big bet for the Indian IT industry and for a budding professional it is one of the biggest growth opportunities.

Sound career choice

Having said that, here are some specific reasons why young professionals can consider taking up this sector as a career choice. They are:

1. There is a demand and supply gap for talent in the sector which is expected to continue for at least next two decades, if not more. This translates into bigger employment opportunities, faster growth prospects and a challenging work environment.

2. It’s a well-rounded profession where one needs to possess business acumen, understanding of risk, strong written, spoken and technical communication and the ability to influence. Cyber sentinels, however, need to constantly learn and sharpen their skills.

3. There is never a dull moment as the threat actors keep adopting different tactics and you are constantly challenged to develop counter measures to deal with them.

4. There are many areas for specialisation and therefore once you achieve mastery in one, you can immediately move to another. This way you can develop well-rounded knowledge on the subject and gain new skills without monotony setting in.

5. You could pick across different types of careers such as Practitioner, Sales, Consulting, Service Provider, OEM, entrepreneur etc. and also keep switching between them to shape and accelerate your career path.

6. It’s an all-season profession - when things are good we need security and when things are not so good we need it all the more.

7. With the growth and innovation happening in this sector, if we are protecting money and data today, tomorrow we could well be saving lives.

The cyber security space offers a challenging and great opportunity for professionals to build a career while feeling a sense of purpose, satisfaction and fulfilment. All that is required is focus, dedication and sincerity in pursuing this field. I speak with experience; and I encourage all policy-makers, academicians, teachers and practitioners to encourage young aspiring candidates to give a a career in cyber security serious thought.Let’s unleash the army of cyber sentinels on criminals.