Telangana Addresses Staffing CrisisMulls Partnership with Academia and Industry Bodies
The Telangana government plans to address the cybersecurity skills shortage in the state by partnering with academia and industry bodies such as NASSCOM and DSCI, as part of its mission to make the state "cyber-safe."
Discussions among the state government and research institutions began a few months ago regarding a framework to launch a cybersecurity training programme to create jobs in the state.
Speaking at the first edition of the Annual Cyber Security Conclave held in the city, Telangana IT minister K T Rama Rao said that the government wants to be a role model when it came to protecting their cyber space.
"We are building our own cybersecurity policy, and this is a top thrust area of the government," he said, and invited IT industry members to aid the state government with their inputs for the policy.
The minister also announced the government's collaboration with noted Indian and U.S. academic institutions to create a pool of "cybersecurity warriors."
The discussion comes in the wake of the state observing severe dearth of cybersecurity professionals, with NASSCOM data indicating a need for about 5 lakh cryptographers in the country. The minister also said that India has only about 6000 professionals who specialise in safeguarding government databases, which speaks for the need for more professionals.
"There is an urgency to build capacity, given that the financial services and insurance industry were the most vulnerable to cyberattacks," Rao says.
Partners with Academia
As a first step, the state government has signed a memorandum of understanding with Hyderabad-based CR Rao Advanced Institute of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science to design a special curriculum on cybersecurity for engineering students.
Additionally, Telangana is in talks with the US-based Carnegie Mellon University to conduct a thorough research into cybersecurity issues and seek insights on designing the course structure.
U Yugandhar, director, management services of CR Rao Institute confirms, "The state government is taking a holistic approach towards dealing with cybersecurity and believes that the future could be catastrophic if the right skills are not developed now to prevent cybercrime.
"We have been roped in to train the police in cybersecurity and also design a special curriculum on cybersecurity for engineering students for both B Tech and M Tech courses from the next academic year in select colleges," Yugandhar says.
According to him, there is a plan to integrate three-month courses and diploma courses as well, with focus on teaching the art of writing secure codes and deciphering encrypted communications. There are also plans to align with NTRO, DRDO and others to seek specialised assistance on designing the course material. The course will incorporate case studies, cyber policies, and network solutions, as well as big data analytics.
Hyderabad-based Srikanth Srinivasan, regional director-TS & AP, NASSCOM Chapter says that, according to government's advice, JNTU is working with NASSCOM's IT/ITeS Sector Skills Council and the Telangana Academy of Skills and Knowledge to implement various specialised courses. "The courses would enable engineering graduates to obtain additional certification in the information security domain, besides the engineering degree," Srinivasan says.
Juxtaposed with Industry Groups
Security Skill Council-NASSCOM is extending support to the government's initiative to build capacity of cybersecurity professionals. To this effect, Srinivasan says, it is extremely important to increase awareness amongst all - students, employees and more - so all citizens can be more responsible in the use of the cyberspace, especially with the use of social media and sharing of personal information in the public domain.
"This is getting more critical and precarious with the increasing proliferation of internet and social media usage thru hand held devices and smartphones," he argues.
With regard to finding the trainers to impart lessons on cybersecurity, Yugandhar and Srinivasan state that the faculty would be trained by the pool of trainers from the industry, as identified by NASSCOM. This is also an on-going exercise to increase the reach and keep building on the existing platform.
As per the modus operandi, NASSCOM will train the master trainers (a batch of 20 -25 faculty) through its 'Train the Trainer' approach and program with no cost to the university or institution. NASSCOM would ensure industry participation in designing quality curriculum enriched with case studies.
Hyderabad-based Cyberabad Security Council, formed by the IT Industry, developers of IT Parks, Cyberabad Police Commissionerate, IT&C Department, Telangana State Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (TSIIC) of the Government, is also in support of the government's initiative in building capacity.
According to the council's secretary, Bharani Kumar Aroll, the council is supporting the cause by building awareness about cybersecurity within the state and also helping the government in establishing people, process and technology to build cyber security skills.
The council is also extending support to the state machinery to spread awareness and equip them with better mechanisms to fight cyber-attacks at every level.
"Since the council is a conglomerate of people from across disciplines, as a body we are helping the government in spotting the talent and also in leveraging public and private partnership model effectively in filling the skill shortage," Aroll says.