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Combitech-logon on a red wall.

Can you give us a little insight into the work of Combitech?

Combitech is an independent technical consulting company and part of the defence and security group within Saab AB. We have a Nordic base, but we also work with clients internationally. We have almost 1,900 qualified consultants in some 30 locations in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark. We cover a wide range of skill areas: systems engineering, technical information solutions, security solutions, autonomy and connectivity, cybersecurity, and digital and management. Our clients are operating in manufacturing, the service industry, the public sector and defence. My division alone, Cybersecurity, has about 300 security consultants.

My area, Secure IoT, covers many fields, including automotive cybersecurity, industrial IoT, telecommunication (with a focus on 5G solutions) and medical technology.

What exciting developments are you working on around cybersecurity?

Man sitting in a suit, sitting on a couch.Within my own department, we work on smart manufacturing connected to the Industry 4.0 era that many companies are trying to enter. This involves connectivity and communications between many devices, such as sensors, smart phones, vehicle to vehicle (V2V), etc., and also other infrastructure components such as sensors to gateways, vehicle to traffic lights (V2X) and a wide range of other solutions. 

Combitech has been an active partner in the EU-initiated Productive 4.0 research project. The project consists of 109 partners from 19 European countries. Productive 4.0 is Europe’s biggest research project in the field of digital industry.

We also help clients be aligned and compliant with many security best practices and standards in this area, including ISA/IEC 62443 [an international series of standards on industrial automation and control systems], NIST security frameworks and more.  Thus, cybersecurity is a critical business enabler for secure transformation to a more digital and connected world.

We are also collaborating with some well-known automotive manufacturers and a group of universities in projects related to the upcoming cybersecurity regulations from UNECE and the standard of ISO/SAE 21434 Road Vehicles – Cybersecurity Engineering. These projects are related to vehicle resiliency, i.e. increasing the ability of vehicles to withstand cyberattacks.

What are your thoughts on University West’s new master’s programme in cybersecurity?

University West is planning to be one of the best schools in the field of cybersecurity. The master’s programme in cybersecurity is the right way to reach this goal. And Combitech will, of course, support this initiative with its substantial knowledge and experience in the cybersecurity domain.

Right now Combitech is running an advanced cybersecurity course for University West bachelor students in their last year. This course is centred on applied learning; students need applied knowledge from the real world that they can use directly after graduation. Most other schools are not as practical.

This course focuses on areas attractive for the market and bases lectures, labs and assignments on real cases in industry. We are working together on this now, and I am already interested in some of the students coming to my team. I can use their knowledge directly in some of the projects and assignments for our different clients. I’m sure employers will be very impressed. My objective is to help students be more applied in their learning.

What skills do you expect graduates of this programme to have?

We’re interested in graduates with advanced cybersecurity skills. One important area is Secure System Development Life Cycles (SSDLC). This means integrating security controls from the beginning of a development project.

Combitech is also interested in graduates with cybersecurity skills relating to the automotive industry and the field of autonomous driving. One of the assignments and labs in our advanced cybersecurity course is about threat modelling and risk analysis related to this area. Students can use these skills on the job as soon as they graduate.

We also need graduates with skills in industrial cybersecurity – graduates who understand the security challenges and situations related to operation technology (OT) and industrial control systems (ICS) in manufacturing industries and can use a proper methodology to protect the manufacturing/OT environment. Students who can do this in accordance with the ISA/IEC 62443 standard will be more prepared to work with related projects directly after graduation. We provide students with a real case study from industry so they learn how to implement cybersecurity controls to reach the targeted security levels.

We are also looking for graduates with expertise in cloud computing technologies. Students need to understand and be familiar with base technologies used in this area and the security mechanisms to protect sensitive data and information both in transit and in storage in the cloud.

Combitech has also created a talent programme. The Combitech Cyber Security Program (CCSP) covers both technical and business perspectives with some possibility to go into depth in certain areas. It will introduce students to Combitech’s core values and give them the soft skills needed to succeed as a consultant.

Is there anything you want students interested in this field to know?

Combitech is a big company and covers so many other security areas. We work on some of the biggest projects in Sweden. We offer many opportunities in very interesting high-tech areas. I’m really proud to be able to help move towards a more cyber-secure society – one of Combitech’s pillars in the cybersecurity area.

I’m also proud to be able to help students and to begin this collaboration with University West. It is the first time we have collaborated in an advanced programme at a university for this area. It is very cool, this one-year master! I hope we continue to work together.

Learn more about the Master in Cybersecurity at University West