Malaysia's PRIDE: Major move to secure regional cybersecurity economy growth

  • The Platform for Real Industry Driven Project Exchange (PRIDE) is designed to secure the Digital Economy
  • Talent development coupled with industry driven up-skilling programmes will transform cybersecurity challenges into sustainable economic growth
  • Will use UK GCHQ accredited cybersecurity courses to strengthen and build the digital security talent pool in Malaysia and the Asia Pacific region

KUALA LUMPUR, 9 FEBRUARY 2018 - Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), the lead agency for the Digital Economy, in a collaboration with the UK's Protection Group International (PGI), and the Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU), and security solutions provider Tecforte, has announced today a new move to further protect and accelerate Malaysia’s cybersecurity ecosystem with two strategic initiatives under the MDEC Talent program called Platform for Real Industry Driven Project Exchange (PRIDE).

During the official document exchange ceremony held at APU - which saw the exchange of three partnership agreements between MDEC and PGI UK; MDEC and APU; and APU and Tecforte, respectively - MDEC Chief Executive Officer Datuk Yasmin Mahmood explained, "ASEAN's digital economy has the potential to add US$1 Trillion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the next 10 years. However, the increasing wave of cyber threats and risks could impede trust and resilience in the digital economy and prevent the region from realising its full digital potential. Malaysia has also seen strong economic growth in recent years and is determined to continue this trend to achieve the Government’s vision of becoming a high-income nation. More importantly, Malaysia’s own digital economy has been growing by leaps and bounds, contributing some 17.8% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product in 2015, just shy of the18.2% target previously set by the Government."

The ASEAN scenario for proactive cybersecurity action also includes the possibility, based on recent ATK cybersecurity ASEAN study, that the top 1000 ASEAN companies could lose US$750 billion in market capitalisation, and cybersecurity concerns could derail the region’s digital innovation agenda – a central pillar for its success in the digital economy. In addition, according to IDC's 2H16 Cloud, Analytics, Mobility, and Security Services Forecast, ASEAN's Cybersecurity spend of forecasted to grow 15% CAGR (2015-2025) where Malaysia is in the top three contributors in ASEAN: Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, largely in the area of managed security services, will contribute 75% of the market by 2025.

Rapid technological evolution is also making threat monitoring and response more difficult, especially with the rise of encryption, multicloud operations, the proliferation of the IoT and the convergence of operation technology (OT) and IT.

Datuk Yasmin also said, "In addition, the increase in trade, capital flows and cyber linkages across ASEAN countries imply that the cyber threat landscape will generate even greater complexity in the future, further escalating the region’s cybersecurity challenge," continued Datuk Yasmin. "Recognising the increasing importance of developing the cybersecurity industry in securing the digital economy, the Malaysian Government through MDEC has placed strong emphasis on fortifying and accelerating Malaysia’s cybersecurity ecosystem with two strategic initiatives under the MDEC Talent program called PRIDE (platform for real industry driven project exchange."

The course to today's initiative to transform cybersecurity challenges into major opportunities started some time ago when the digital security sector was deemed an important growth segment for Malaysia's digital economy development.

In a move welcomed by the UK Department for International Trade (DIT), MDEC's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Datuk Yasmin Mahmood led a mission to the UK in December 2016. This resulted in three signed agreements with Protection Group International (PGI), Future Cities Catapult and the University of Salford to develop and upscale cybersecurity skills capacity in Malaysia and the Asia Pacific region. This also further strengthened bilateral digital industry ties with the United Kingdom.

HE Vicki Treadall CMG MVO, British High Commissioner to Malaysia, said “In June 2016, the UK and Malaysia signed an MoU to jointly promote the adoption of digital economy solutions. Our tech partnership has since grown in breadth and depth, extending to new areas of cyber security and smart cities. The partnership formalised today adds a new dimension to our collaboration as we see the UK tech industry and Malaysian academia joining hands. I am confident that the programme will help address the gap in cyber skill set necessary for the development of the tech sector, as well as encouraging cyber research between the UK and institutions in the region.”

How PRIDE will work

Addressing the cybersecurity talent conundrum, Datuk Yasmin cited a December 2017 LinkedIn report on cybersecurity talent in Malaysia, which showed that 21% have up to just 4 years of experience. "While it is encouraging that the study showed 21% of Malaysia's cyberSecurity workforce are women (compared to 11% in the US), the overall situation is cause for alarm as the ' funnel' of new talent is too small and not enough to sustain and support growing demand of our Digital Economy. Hence, through the facilitation MDEC PRIDE Programme, we will increase the 'industry-readiness' of our graduates with ' ELITE' - the Educational Outreach initiative from cybersecurity industry provider, TecForte - which will feature a live learning Security Information Event Management (SIEM) platform where students will be introduced to hands-on cybersecurity operations. Students will also be exposed to real-time event analytics, global threat intelligence, and incidents handling framework within the campus environment.”

Details of document exchange ceremony, which comprised three partnership agreements, together with key objectives are:

Protection Group International (PGI) Ltd (UK) and MDEC

Will deliver the UK GCHQ Security Operations Centre - Incident Responder (SOC-IR) Program targeting 70 professionals to be up-skilled (in four delivery sessions), primarily university lecturers (Premier Digital Tech IHLs), Malaysia Managed Security Services Providers (MSSP), Government agencies (e.g. NACSA & CSM), and Critical National Information Infrastructure (CNII) enterprises.

Mr. Sebastian Madden from PGI said: "Today's agreement with MDEC and APU is a significant step towards establishing a Far East version of PGI's Cyber Academy. It will act as our regional training hub and provide an alternative delivery option through which all our international clients can access PGI's high-quality, UK government certified, cyber security skills training. We are very excited about the potential for this partnership, which plays a major role in the PGI Cyber Academy's international expansion. We are proud that our Cyber Security training will play a role in bringing economic benefits to Malaysia by enabling its digital economy and helping it's talented young graduates access well-paid cyber security roles around the world."

Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) and MDEC

APU has been identified as strategic partner to host the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) certified Security Operations Centre-Incident Responder (SOC-IR) as the first showcase of the Centre in academic institutions to encourage practical skills building and enhance students' employability to the cybersecurity industry.

Datuk Dr. Parmjit Singh, CEO of APU who witnessed the agreement received by Professor Ron Edwards, Vice Chancellor of APU, commented, "APU is mindful of the need to rapidly develop a sustainable talent pool to meet the immediate cybersecurity talent shortage, I am happy to that the University will also host the live SOC learning platform to drive and facilitate more quality research and innovation development."

APU and Tecforte

MITI is the key driver in making Malaysia the preferred destination for quality investments and enhancing the nation's rising status as a globally competitive trading nation. Its objectives and roles are oriented towards ensuring Malaysia’s rapid economic development and help achieve the country's stated goal of becoming a developed nation by 2020.This agreement between APU and security solutions provider Tecforte will support the development and provisioning of the Security Operation Center (SOC) platform and Operational SOP in academic environments.

These new initiatives were in line with national Digital Economy objectives and will enable the local cybersecurity services companies' capabilities to expand to the ASEAN cybersecurity services market, which IDC estimates will be worth U $2.6B by 2021(GAGR 22.28 %).

"This is a market driven continuous innovation strategy, focusing on collaboration between industry, academia and government, to deliver the relevant outcomes for Malaysia's Digital Economy journey. These moves will help to identify gaps and pilot critical skillset development within academia, and up-skill cybersecurity industry talent to produce high income professionals," concluded Datuk Yasmin.

About Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC)

Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation or MDEC (formerly known as Multimedia Development Corporation Sdn. Bhd.) is the lead agency in driving the digital economy in Malaysia under the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia. Since its inception 21 years ago, MDEC’s mission is to develop the nation’s digital economy. MDEC’s implementation efforts are centred on driving investments, building local tech champions, catalysing digital innovation ecosystems and propagating digital inclusivity.

MDEC is also responsible to ensure that Malaysia plays an integral part in developing and nurturing talent to drive digital innovation around the world, while attracting participation from global ICT companies to invest and develop cutting edge digital and creative solutions in the country.

To know more about MDEC’s efforts and initiatives in driving Digital economy, please visit or follow us on:

Twitter: @mymdec

For further media enquiries, please contact:

Sharifah Syazreen Syed Agail
Corporate Affairs Division         
Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC)
Tel: +603 8314 1839