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‘Learn to hack, hack to learn’ – build a strong talent pool for a safe future

‘Learn to hack, hack to learn’ – PwC Hong Kong nurtures cybersecurity talent for a safe and sustainable future

While businesses are increasingly digitised and tech-enabled, cyber-attackers are relentlessly evolving and outpacing the supply of future talent, which is still a long way from catching up with soaring demand. PwC Hong Kong is taking the lead and joining up with other organisations to tackle cyber threats and to nurture cybersecurity talent so as to build a strong talent pool for a safe future.

Cyberthreat actors are becoming more and more sophisticated in terms of speed and frequency, with 2,860 victims worldwide exposed on ransomware leak sites in 2021. In 2022, with the rise of so called ‘zero-day vulnerabilities’, PwC has seen cyber criminals using more sophisticated techniques than ever. According to PwC’s Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey 2022, 40% of companies have experienced increased cyber risks since the onset of COVID-19.

The pandemic accelerated cloud adoption, further increasing exposure to cyberthreats, and making prevention even harder for organisations. More than half of the 3,600 respondents to PwC’s 2022 Global Digital Trust Insights survey expect an increase in reportable incidents, with attacks on cloud services topping the list (58%). Given the speed and efficiency of today’s threat actors, executives have cause for concern.

To tackle the challenge, there needs to be a connected cybersecurity ecosystem. For the sixth consecutive year, PwC Hong Kong’s HackaDay will showcase the future of cybersecurity. With the theme ‘Securing by the crowd’, the conference will take place on 24th November. Given the rise in the number of cyber-attacks and inspired by the ‘wisdom of the crowd’, PwC believes that the traditional approach is no longer viable. Instead, there should be a centralised cybersecurity ecosystem. This year’s conference will bring together industry leaders to explore how different stakeholders – including regulators, organisations, solution providers, industry professionals and aspiring talent – can contribute to and benefit from this ecosystem.

Kok Tin Gan, PwC Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Privacy Partner, said, “Our HackaDay brings the world together and nurtures future talent to prepare for tomorrow’s cybersecurity. Cyberthreats can’t be solved by an individual – that’s why our ‘Securing by the crowd’ conference calls on all stakeholders to work together to combat these threats. We aim to revitalise the existing cyber platform and build a centralised cybersecurity ecosystem. With more people involved, changing one-to-one solutions into one-to-many, we can further decrease service fees so that organisations can afford to enhance their cyber resilience.”

As well as the HackaDay conference, PwC will be hosting two competitions – Capture the Flag and Hackathon – for undergraduate students. Capture The Flag, which has been running for five years, focuses on finding flaws in existing systems. The Hackathon allows students in Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore to test the limits of their technical skills while solving real-world problems. While many hackathons emphasise the final presentation, PwC values the design principles, methodology and development skills that participants possess. Our Hackathon aims to challenge students to build a secured cloud infrastructure from Day One. There is a record number of participating teams, with 43 teams coming from institutions across Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore for these two competitions. We can’t wait to witness their incredible talent.

Kok Tin Gan added, “When it comes to cybersecurity talent, we believe in the concept of ‘learn to hack, hack to learn’. Aspiring talent should be given hands-on learning opportunities to experience what it is like to work as a cybersecurity professional. This is why we are bringing back our annual HackaDay cybersecurity challenge this year – to allow undergraduates to showcase their abilities in our Capture The Flag and Hackathon competitions. If we can nurture, upskill and reskill cybersecurity talent around the world and continuously contribute to the ecosystem, we will ultimately be contributing to a secure and sustainable future.”

PwC Hong Kong has given scholarships to 45 university students to develop their careers in cybersecurity since the HackaDay was launched. PwC hires more than 50 employees for its cybersecurity team in Hong Kong each year. It is also one of the biggest employers in the industry and has groomed over 250 staff to date.

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