Mumbai: Tata Communications, a leading digital infrastructure provider, has partnered with SASTRA Deemed University in Tamil Nadu to fund and establish a cyber security lab at the university. With this partnership, Tata Communications aims to co-create an ecosystem by partnering with universities globally to address cyber-security challenges today, while building the skills and capabilities for tomorrow.
The new cyber security lab was officially inaugurated at the university on September 15th, a day celebrated by the Engineering community across India as ‘Engineer’s Day’, as a tribute to the renowned Indian Engineer, Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya. Through this association, Tata Communications and SASTRA, which ranks among the top 300 universities in Asia[i], have built a curriculum in cyber security with a focus on training, developing and strengthening the practical application of cyber security, encompassing the process and technology elements of cyber threat detection and mitigation.
There are currently around 30,000 cybersecurity vacancies in India and according to Cybersecurity Ventures, there will be 3.5 million cybersecurity job openings globally by 2021.The demand far exceeds supply. As the nature of cybercrime becomes more complex, there is an industry-wide need for skilled talent, to address these challenges head on. This is compounded by the rate and increasing dollar-value associated with global cybercrime. According to a McAfee report, it is estimated that the global cost of cybercrime has now reached as much as $600 billion which is about 0.8 percent of global GDP. Offsetting the associated risks calls for collaboration between private, public and institutional players to address the threat.
“This lab will act as a catalyst to spark student interest in specialising in cyber security. As a result of this launch, we have already begun to see huge interest among our graduate and post-graduate students”, said Dr. Vaidhyasubramanian, Dean – Planning & Development at SASTRA. “The new facility will help our students gain hands-on knowledge with access to mentors and guest lectures from senior Tata Communications staff, and real life case studies on how to mitigate cyber security risks with the latest cutting edge technologies. The investment, active involvement and support from Tata Communications will also help our faculty members get better exposure to the latest updates in cyber security which will be go a long way in making their classroom lectures more interactive.”
Formally inaugurating the lab, Madhusudhan Mysore, CEO, Tata Communications Transformation Services , said, “While there is a higher impetus to opt for STEM courses, the challenge is getting the right kind of industry support, exposure and hands-on practical experience. These university students are the next generation of professionals and business leaders in the making. Private organisations have the means, expertise and the technology to offer to Academia in order to create the right conditions and environment for students to learn and build on their theoretical and practical knowledge. We are very excited to play a role in enabling these young students to develop specialised skills and thrive, as they go on to become confident and accomplished professionals.”
“As technologies get more sophisticated, so do the skills required to deal with cyber security. Cyber security professionals and students need to continuously update their skills and knowledge so that they can deal with new sophisticated threats and adapt their skills as needed.” said Srinivasan CR, Chief Digital Officer for Tata Communications. “There is a need for governments, universities, schools and businesses to collaborate and create a learning ecosystem in order to bridge this substantial skills gap. We hope to provide this exposure and learning to the students at SASTRA and pave way for more such partnerships over the course of the years to ensure the industry has a strong experienced talent pool to deal with cyber-attacks.”
Beyond funding the lab, Tata Communication has also invested its technology and resources in this partnership. The course curriculum is being developed in conjunction with Tata Communications’ senior cyber security engineering team. Senior leadership and domain experts from the organisation will visit the lab as guest faculty, and the university will receive extensive training on how to manage, operate and run the lab from a technical perspective.
Tata Communications is committed to investing in young talent and offering coaching, mentorship and technology access to university students so they can apply their academic knowledge in a practical, real life scenario and build on their skills and confidence. Apart from SASTRA, Tata Communications also engages with Singapore University of Technology and Design by sponsoring Capstone projects on cyber security and offering coaching and access to Tata Communications’ technology to the students participating in those projects.
Recently, the company also launched a 3-month long hackathon, called, The Grand India IoT Innovation Challenge, for engineering students from 26 select colleges and universities across India; inviting students to build prototypes of IoT enabled solutions based on the LoRaWANTM technology. The students will have access to Tata Communications’ dedicated IoT network, IoT platform and mentorship.