KPMG Malaysia recently concluded the Finals of its Cyber Challenge 2018, a team-based nationwide competition to develop more undergraduates for the cyber security and technology field. Now in its fourth run, the KPMG Cyber Challenge 2018 recorded the highest participation to date with over 500 undergraduates from 22 universities across Malaysia.

The Challenge comprised two separate competitions: the Cyber Security Challenge, where undergraduates participated in a capture-the-flag exercise that tested their skills in reverse engineering, steganography, cryptography, programming, network analysis, infrastructure hacking, web application security, and digital forensics. This year, KPMG also introduced the Cyber Technology Challenge where undergraduates must analyze and develop a solution to technology-based case studies developed by leading organizations namely FireEye, Google Cloud, Netpoleon and the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) Malaysia.

Dani Michaux, KPMG’s Head of ASPAC Cyber Security, said that the increase in participation signifies enhanced interests and awareness of the cyber sector among undergraduates in the country, which will positively impact the talent pipeline for the industry. “Today’s world is vastly different. Advances in disruptive technology such as Artificial Intelligence and cloud applications are dramatically changing the way companies are doing business. Competitive advantage is no longer simply about applying digital innovations in isolation; it comes from using them in an interconnected manner to drive industry specific challenges. “This means hiring the best people with the right skills. According to KPMG’s global survey, sixty-five percent of companies reported that a lack of people with the right skills is preventing them from keeping up with the pace of technological change. I’m proud to say that the KPMG Cyber Challenge has been addressing this talent gap since we started this initiative in 2015,” said Dani.

As the adoption rate of technology continues to increase, so will the companies’ exposure to cyber risks and threats, which must be managed. According to the same KPMG survey, talent shortage is still critical with the top three skills currently in demand being big data and analytics expert, technical architecture, and security and resilience personnel.
Globally, the shortage for specialists in the cyber security arena is estimated to reach 1.5million by 2020; in Malaysia, there are currently about 7,800 cyber security professionals but it is estimated that the country will require at least 10,000 by 2020.

The talent shortage is a concern considering that there has been a surge in cybercrime in Malaysia where about RM60 million has been reported lost to scammers in the first quarter of 2018. Today, cybercrime is a booming global economy that has become a self-sustaining system.
“What’s obvious to industry players across all sectors today is that there is an urgent need to groom a workforce of the future today. Hence, the KPMG Cyber Challenge has evolved accordingly to inculcate a culture of innovation and critical thinking skills among the undergraduates,” Dani explained.

Demonstrating teamwork, innovative thinking and analytical skills were the winners of the KPMG Cyber Challenge 2018. For the first time, KPMG also awarded a Top University Award to Asia Pacific University based on total cumulative scores of the teams representing their university. A highlight of the competition was the face-off between the top teams from Malaysia against the best from Thailand which saw the team from Chulalongkorn University, Thailand emerge victorious to claim the Overall Champion title by a narrow ten points.

The KPMG Cyber Challenge 2018 welcomed FireEye, Netpoleon, Google Cloud, IET Malaysia and Forcepoint as Strategic Partners and Challenge Sponsors. KPMG also welcomed the National Cyber Security Agency (NACSA), ISACA and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) on board as Supporting Organizations.

KPMG is a global network of professional services firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We operate in 154 countries and territories and have 200,000 people working in member firms around the world. The history of KPMG in Malaysia can be traced back to 1928. KPMG PLT, a limited liability partnership established under Malaysian law, is a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.