Slim chances for security specialists to find work in Vietnam: Google expert

Ngoc Huynh

Google’s product security lead Duong Ngoc Thai smiles as he talks to Tuoi Tre newspaper in Ho Chi Minh City

There are few opportunities for information security experts to land a job in Vietnam as very few local companies are paying adequate attention to cyber-security issues, a Vietnamese tech expert who works for Google has said.

Vietnam is going against the global trend in which the job is in high demand as cyber-attacks are becoming more dangerous and occurring more frequently, Duong Ngoc Thai, tech lead of Google’s worldwide product security team, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper in an interview published Sunday.

The team is responsible for the safety of all users and most products of the Internet giant.

Thai is in Ho Chi Minh City to prepare for TetCon Saigon 2015, an information security conference that will kick off early next year.

New malicious software, or malware, is created on a minute basis and hackers are targeting not only businesses but individual Internet users, while Vietnamese businesses underestimate the importance of security, according to the Google expert.

“Most private businesses either have small reliance on computers or have yet to suffer any serious cyber-attacks,” Thai said.

State-run companies, meanwhile, do pay attention to security but “they only earmark huge amounts of money for buying equipment that will only be used for a couple of times, instead of training or recruiting [security] experts,” he added.

The number of cyber-attacks targeting Vietnamese businesses has increased sharply over the last three years, and falling victim to hackers is nothing strange to local companies, according to recent reports by major global security firms.

Even so, projects on increasing information security in the Southeast Asian country remain ineffective, whereas there is a lack of personnel in the field, Thai said.

Thai and other security specialists thus started organizing TetCon to raise awareness of security for local firms and motivate Vietnamese students or information security enthusiasts.

Held annually in Ho Chi Minh City since 2012, TetCon is intended to provide attendees with “hands-on experiences, cutting-edge researches, and the latest developments in information security in Vietnam and around the world,” according to the event’s website.

Most Vietnamese security researchers have previously had to look for overseas jobs or pursued other careers thanks to low domestic demand for security experts, according to an industry insider.

“No companies wanted to recruit a security pundit. They only hired an IT man primarily to fix an Internet connection error,” he said.

The expert added, however, that the situation has improved over the last three years as some enterprises began opening their pocket to secure their systems.

Thai said Google and other firms have large demand for security experts but there is a short supply of workers.

“The scarcity also exists in Vietnam, but not because of huge demand,” he said. “As there is little need for the job, the supply is modest accordingly.”

The tech expert added that he left Vietnam to join Google for the same reason.

But Thai said the chance is still there for Vietnamese students and advised them to study and work hard.

“Study English, math, and programming hard and try to code as many software programs as you can,” he said.

Duong Ngoc Thai is a renowned information security expert with a proven track record of breakthrough research, according to the TetCon website.

Over the past five years, Thai has co-invented four original attack methods that affect the entire Internet and led industry-wide efforts to prevent cryptographic vulnerabilities in many browsers and operating systems.

The award-winning expert has been recognized by his peers as one of the godfathers of practical cryptographic software security, and by the United States government as a researcher with extraordinary ability.

Thai is also assisting Stanford professors in teaching a cryptography class that has attracted more than 300,000 people worldwide.

The third TetCon conference takes place on January 6, 2015.

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