Through remote-learning arrangements to beat geographical boundaries, India is starting to tap into Israel’s global cybersecurity training programs.
With widespread remote-working arrangements and more networks becoming connected, most countries have reinforced their cybersecurity defense systems. India has been no exception to this international trend.
The country continues to have strategic collaborations on cybersecurity with several of its prominent allies, the most notable being Israel. Cybersecurity education in this Middle-Eastern country starts right from middle school, putting it on an elite list of countries that implemented significant government cybersecurity initiatives.
In an exclusive interview with CybersecAsia, the Chair of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Israeli Council for Higher Education, Professor Yaffa Zilbershats, shares her views on the Indian cybersecurity landscape and how her country can help with bridging the skills gaps.
CybersecAsia: What are your views on the Indian cybersecurity scenario?
Prof Yaffa Zilbershats (YZ): India has witnessed a remarkable rise in Internet penetration in recent times. In 2020, the country became the second-largest Internet user base in the world—a number that is only expected to increase. This sudden Internet explosion comes with its own underlying threats: cybersecurity and data privacy.
India, like other countries, faces global risks associated with cybersecurity, such as phishing, ransomware, IoT algorithm manipulation and DDoS, among others. This threat is heightened because of the lack of awareness and skill gap to counter threats in this domain. Israel, we believe, can assist in helping bridge the skill gap due to the sudden Internet boom.
CybersecAsia: How can Israel help to bridge the cybersecurity skills gaps in India?
YZ: India is projected to have 3.5 million new job vacancies in the cybersecurity space in 2021, whereas Israel boasts of an US$82bn cybersecurity industry. Israel, being known for high-tech development, innovation and entrepreneurship, has faced many cyber threats over the years and therefore, has developed a certain expertise.
Two factors have played a major role in propelling Israel to the top of the cybersecurity space: government initiatives and cybersecurity training in education. While the former has attracted the R&D centers of multinational corporates, the latter has empowered Israel’s human capital by investing in academic pursuits. The domain is given so much prominence in Israel that cybersecurity education starts right from middle school. It is also offered as a specialization at the university level for both Israeli and international students.
As such, Israeli academic institutions are at the forefront of cybersecurity research and education, which is critical to the development of Israeli expertise in the field. Cutting-edge research is being conducted at Israeli universities in the arena. Therefore, Israel much knowledge and experience to share in this space. It can also be a potential area of collaboration between Israeli and Indian universities.
CybersecAsia: What cybersecurity courses do Israeli institutes of higher education provide to Indian students?
YZ: At present, Israeli universities and colleges offer dozens of full degrees, research opportunities and short-term study program in English to over 12,000 international students, including 1,200 from India. We are looking forward to welcoming more Indian students in the years to come. The country offers both short-term and long-term programs in cybersecurity at universities, including Tel Aviv University, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and Ben Gurion University.
These courses include a new one-year M.A. program in Cyber Politics & Government by Tel Aviv University, Fundamental Technologies of Cyber Security (Tel Aviv University), Advanced Cyber Security: The Evolution of the Cyber Threat (Tel Aviv University), and Unlocking Information Security (online – Tel Aviv University). The last course, which is offered free of charge on the IsraelX platform of edx.org, was developed as a part of the Council for Higher Education’s national Digital Learning initiative and has been granted a number of awards. To date, the course has been taken by over 16,000 students from 150 different countries.
Ben Gurion University offers a M.Sc degree in Information Systems Engineering with specialization in Cyber Space Security, among others. The Hiroshi Fujiwara Cyber Security Research Center at Technion offers research-intensive and industry-collaborative cyber and computer security programs. These programs focus on exploring the weaknesses that endanger computerized systems. They also propose methods of protection, while fostering awareness on the issues and latest developments through seminars for engineers working in the field.
CSA: Does India have the potential to achieve a competitive advantage in cybersecurity?
YZ: Owing to its enormous population and Internet penetration in remote areas, India has a huge potential for development in the cybersecurity space. In the coming years, India will also face its unique challenges in the cybersecurity arena. This leaves the country with a great potential to learn, research and grow in the cybersecurity space.
CSA: What cybersecurity trends do you predict in 2021, especially in the Indian context?
YZ: As the move from highly secured on-premise networks to home Wi-Fi and personal devices, we expect cybersecurity threats to increase. To counter threats, newer defensive measures will emerge in 2021. This will mean early detection of and not just protection from cyber threats. We expect the increased usage of cloud-based Security Information and Event Management to enable businesses to automatically respond to low-level attacks.
CybersecAsia thanks Prof Zilbershats for sharing her insights.