Global public-private collaboration tackles cybersecurity skills gap

Cybercrime stands to present a significant challenge in the coming years.

Failure to address cybercrime's growing threat could have a significant global impact. Image: Pixabay

Ken Xie
Founder, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Fortinet
Jim Alkove
Chief Trust Officer, Salesforce
Alois Zwinggi
Managing Director, World Economic Forum
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As the world continues to transition to a digital economy, online connectivity is critical for unlocking innovation and prosperity across the globe. This expansion of the digital marketplace, however, has generated more jobs than the supply of security professionals can meet. There has not been an efficient way to create skilled security practitioners at the same rate as the digital economy expands.

This has created an opportunity for cybercriminals, to the point where the volume and sophistication of cyberthreats now present a significant obstacle to economic growth.

Efforts to contain cybercrime, while important, have remained largely insufficient. There are simply not enough skilled cybersecurity professionals available to properly plan, manage, integrate and optimize security devices, strategies and protocols. As a result, over the next five years, economic loss due to cybercrime is predicted to reach an unprecedented $5.2 trillion – almost the size of the economies of France, Italy and Spain combined.

The World Economic Forum’s Centre for Cybersecurity

The World Economic Forum launched its Centre for Cybersecurity in 2018 to respond to the growing global threat of cybercrime by tackling cybersecurity grand challenges in a collaborative global network of public- and private-sector partners from business, government and academia. From the outset, Centre partners are strongly committed to working with Forum constituents to innovate powerful global concertation to deter cybercrime and reduce global cyberattacks.

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Addressing cybercrime on a global scale is a massive undertaking and will require several approaches, from innovating new technology to creating new and better standards and best practices. However, one of the biggest challenges identified by the Centre for Cybersecurity is the continued skills shortage.

According to the 2018 (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, the cybersecurity workforce gap has grown to more than 2.9 million globally, with 59% of respondents expressing concern that this widening gap has put their organizations at risk. The timing couldn’t be worse. As the world shifts to a digital economy, failure to address this challenge with a concerted and unified strategy could have a significant global impact.

“The global shortage of cybersecurity experts raises pressing imperatives, namely how can stakeholders from all sectors of society work together – and fast enough – to meet the urgent need for cyber professionals?”, said Alois Zwinggi, Head of the Centre for Cybersecurity.

Joining forces to help close the skills gap

To begin to address this challenge, Fortinet and Salesforce, in concert with recent World Economic Forum Centre for Cybersecurity discussions and efforts, have teamed up to deliver globally accessible and scalable cybersecurity skills training to help close the skills gap by providing accessible cyber education at scale and simultaneously raising general security awareness among all users.

At the 2019 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, held in Davos last January, Fortinet and Salesforce led the Cyber Workforce session, aimed at educating participants on the challenges related to the lack of a strong and inclusive cybersecurity workforce. They also led the discussion to outline potential solutions that could enable training opportunities, as well as inform boardroom decisions to support the initiative. As a result of those conversations, these two Centre for Cybersecurity founding partners have taken the first steps to bring cybersecurity education to millions.

Image: Imperva 2019 Cyberthreat Defence Report
Future collaborations

In this initial phase, Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform, has expanded to include content from Fortinet’s globally recognized Network Security Expert (NSE) programme. The Fortinet NSE programme is one of the most widely adopted cybersecurity training schemes in the world, used by close to 150 academic institutions worldwide, and is designed for beginners as well as advanced cybersecurity professionals. The combined collaboration is the Cybersecurity Learning Hub.

Training is now being made available free of charge in a new Trailhead module, Digital Security Basics – empowering anyone to gain cybersecurity proficiency, as well as organizations looking to institute an easy-to-use and proven employee security training programme.

This is just the first step in an ongoing collaboration strategy being led by the Centre for Cybersecurity to incorporate and integrate the resources and efforts of public and private organizations across the globe, with the goal of raising the bar for cybersecurity across all communities through education, best practices, technical innovation, new standards and regulations. As a result, the centre will be looking for additional resources to add to this platform, as well as expanding its effort to additional platforms to ensure the widest possible availability to organizations and individuals around the world.

Together, we can secure our global digital society

As cybercrime continues to threaten the new digital economy, it is critical that we combine the resources of organizations across a spectrum of industries, both public and private, to find, educate and update cybersecurity professionals. In addition, it is imperative that every member of an organization be part of the security team. Those who practice effective cybersecurity hygiene, understand cyber threats and can identify and avoid risky online behaviour and traps set by cybercriminals can take significant harm out of their organization’s way while helping to ease some of the pressure on the need for new cybersecurity experts.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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