Microsoft's has released a report that warns a rapidly growing shortage of technology-savvy graduates is putting the world's cyber security in danger.
In Cyberspace 2025: Today's Decisions, Tomorrow's Terrain, the software giant says more must be done to boost the number of students studying STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths – to ensure the world's pool of cyber skills can cope with a "dramatic" rise in broadband adoption, particularly in the developing world.
Paul Nicholas, senior director, global security strategy and diplomacy, Microsoft cited the rise of internet-connected users in India as a telling example of this issue.
"In India the report estimates growth of more than 3,000 percent in its total number of broadband subscriptions, from about 20 million in 2012 to more than 700 million," he said.
"During the same period, the entire European Union may add only 105 million new broadband subscriptions, from nearly 143 million in 2012 to 248 million in 2025."
However, despite this huge rise in more people getting online and wanting to access services from social media to online banking, Microsofts report predicts there will be just 16 million STEM graduates in 2025, versus billions of web users.
"This imbalance in education sets the stage for fierce competition for technology talent, and global economic competition," Nicholas added.
Peak, Plateau and Canyon
Microsoft's reported also outlined three likely scenarios for the use of technology worldwide in 2025 dubbed Peak, Plateau and Canyon. Microsoft said that each will bring its own cyber security challenges.
Peak is where IT meets its expectations and delivers its full potential. Plateau is the "status quo", and here Microsoft said government could both "bolster and hinder technological progress". Canyon is characterised by poor government policies and standards and a protectionist, closed-down network.
"Today's public policy decisions can address yesterday's problems, or they can shape the future landscape of cyberspace. In some instances, they may even accomplish both aims. The policy-maker's dilemma, however, is how to strike the right balance," added Nicholas.
"Making more data-driven decisions and dedicating resources to support them can create a less daunting and more navigable terrain towards cyberspace for 2025, today, tomorrow and beyond."
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