Data security talent needs fostering

  • By Chiueh Tzi-cker 闕志克

Since assuming office in 2016, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has on multiple occasions strongly advocated a data security and national security policy.

With all of the world’s major powers having adopted cyberwarfare strategies, there can be no question that data security and national security are inextricably linked.

Last year, several of Taiwan’s state-run companies and many mid-sized and large manufacturers fell victim to ransomware attacks of varying severity, which in some cases resulted in the temporary suspension of business operations or large ransom payouts, laying bare the intimate connection between data security and economic security.

A nation’s defensive capability against cyberattacks can be termed “national data security power.” The government’s data security and national security policies should focus primarily on upgrading that power.

A nation’s data security power is almost entirely determined by the quality and quantity of its data security specialists, and the latter is closely related to the extent to which it possesses a flourishing data security industry. If a nation wishes to elevate its data security power, it must first cultivate a pool of data security talent that can help develop the sector.

In the past few years, the government has been attempting to do just this. Taiwan now has a community of respected “white hat” hackers who regularly participate in the world-famous Capture the Flag competition, organized by DEF CON, an international convention for hackers and computer security professionals in Las Vegas, Nevada. Taiwanese teams frequently rank among the best in the annual competition.

Some of Taiwan’s white hat hackers have established their own data security companies and are doing good business. Meanwhile, white hat hacker social media groups are popping up all over the place, which means that the pool of data security talent in Taiwan is likely to grow.

Do these achievements mean that Taiwan has already built up formidable data security power…