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Cyber soldiers are building a new Swedish industry

Lack of skills is the main obstacle facing Sweden in  building up a cyber security industry, says Anders Herrström, security expert at PA Consulting, and he therefore welcomes the new training for cyber soldiers. At the end of last year, Sweden's first cyber soldiers  graduated from their training at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm (KTH), which was recently started in collaboration with the Swedish Armed Forces. A total of 28 recruits were able to call themselves cyber soldiers after gaining 30 higher education credits. Today, more students are in training  and in the coming years the plan is to increase the number further.

This new educational initiative has come at the right time and can be an important step in building a new Swedish industry in cyber security, says Anders Herrström. His background is in the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), where he worked on cyber security, as well as from the Armed Forces, the Swedish Armed Forces' radio station (FRA), the Ministry of Defense and the Swedish Inspectorate for Defense Intelligence. Today he is a security expert at the British management consulting firm PA Consulting.

"You can start at many different points, but one of the biggest challenges in the field of cybersecurity is the supply of skills," he says.

“It's not just about IT-related skills but about everything from procurement, understanding of company management, law and so on. Creating a critical mass of skilled people who are active in the industry is a prerequisite.”

He refers to a study conducted by the American Certification Organization (ISC) conducted in 2019, "Cybersecurity Workforce Study," which found that globally there was a shortage of 4 million people with skills in cyber security. People who are needed to build a resilient society.

What does a critical mass mean in this case?

"It is perhaps better to talk about ecosystems, how we need to build a sustainable and viable ecosystem in cyber security. That academia and authorities have now joined forces to provide education is a step in the right direction", says Anders Herrström and he points to the example of Israel.

"Israel has a well-developed system for finding skilled people who have passed their military service, these are people who, to a large extent, are behind the numerous and successful Israeli cyber security companies."

With high levels of competence in digitisation and technology, Sweden is well placed to build this new industry, but we need to structure the initiatives that are already being taken today and develop collaboration between the public and private sectors, says Anders Herrström.

What is the significance of a possible NATO membership in this context?

"It is, of course, important for some parts of the cybersecurity industry. But above all, it is the reasons behind a possible decision on membership that are important. The growing uncertainty in the international arena has highlighted  how vulnerable society is and the need to be able to protect it.”

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