The Middle East region could require at least 45,000 more cyber security professionals by 2020.

This estimate is based on a global skills shortage forecast made by US-based Frost & Sullivan and ISC2, which indicates that the global information security workforce will have more than 1.5 million unfilled positions during the forecast period.

According to the report, that global figure is expected to further expand as 2020 approaches due to the difficulty in recruitment.

“There is no way to catch up with that [figure] easily,” Eddie Schwartz, executive vice president of Abu Dhabi-based Darkmatter, tells MEED. “The universities worldwide can only put up so many people.”

The gap is expected to widen despite cyber security being among the top three best paying jobs within the computer science discipline along with artificial intelligence and big data.

It is understood that the industry will be looking at resolving the severe skills shortage partly through automation and artificial intelligence.

Schwartz said they have conducted undertaken ground breaking research in cyber security through automation and artificial intelligence here in Abu Dhabi, which demonstrate the potential of these technologies in reducing the skills gap.

Several initiatives are also underway to boost the pool of information security professionals across the UAE, which according to security US-based firm Symantec is the world’s eighth most targeted country in the world by cyber attacks.

In August last year, Dubai’s SmartWorld established a training centre that specialises in cyber security training for nationals. Apart from offering security training courses, the Cyber Security Centre will also provide a tool to monitor cyber security threats round-the-clock.

In May, the Sharjah government announced an investment of $500m over a five-year period to develop a research and development facility at the American University of Sharjah. The facility will focus on digitalisation, including cyber security, in addition to water, power and transportation.

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