$44m cyber-security lab set up at SUTD

Varsity, ST Electronics to work on solutions for commercial use

Strategies to beef up Singapore's defence against cyber threats will soon be hatched in a new laboratory at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).

Yesterday, the university and Singapore Technologies (ST) Electronics launched a $44.3 million joint cyber-security laboratory to generate new ways to battle cyber threats.

Industry professionals, such as security engineers from ST Electronics, will work with academics from SUTD in the laboratory at the university's Changi campus.

Any cyber-security software or solutions they come up with can then be commercialised and applied on an industrial or national level.

Called the ST Electronics-SUTD Cyber Security Laboratory, it is supported by the National Research Foundation under the Corporate Laboratory@University Scheme. It is the first laboratory under the scheme to focus on cyber security.

"With R&D, we will be able to design systems more securely from the outset," said Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, at a signing ceremony for the facility yesterday.

"Over time, this will reduce the prevalence of cyber attacks and their impact to society," said Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister-in-charge for Cyber Security.

To be fully operational by Aug 1, the laboratory is expected to have around 60 researchers from SUTD and ST Electronics.

It will initially focus on three areas: cyber security for big data analytics, monitoring and mitigating techniques and better detection of insider malicious activity.

These represent "evergreen" problems in any organisation, said Professor Yuval Elovici, an SUTD professor heading the laboratory.

Cyber attacks can be identified in advance, for instance, by sifting through data and identifying suspicious patterns using computing algorithms that can pick up signs of malicious behaviour.

The facility will develop more effective monitoring software to detect malicious software. It will also work on detecting suspicious and malicious activity.

But it is not all about protection.

Cyber security can also be an opportunity, said Dr Yaacob. "By creating and investing in new technologies, (local companies) have the potential to become market leaders regionally and internationally."

One of the laboratory's goals is to produce made-in-Singapore cyber-security products, such as software or security solutions.

The laboratory will also help to nurture the pool of cyber-security experts in Singapore, said ST Electronics president Lee Fook Sun.

"SUTD will involve their students in cutting-edge cyber-security research. ST Electronics will offer exciting and rewarding career opportunities for the graduating students,"said Mr Lee.

SUTD president Thomas Magnanti said the lab is a natural extension of the cyber-security work being done at the university.

"The new cyber-security lab will enhance this research by transforming it into commercial products and services," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2016, with the headline '$44m cyber-security lab set up at SUTD'. Print Edition | Subscribe