Singapore 'will need more cyber defenders'

Students from Nanyang Polytechnic's School of Information Technology demonstrates a cyber security game they developed
Students from Nanyang Polytechnic's School of Information Technology demonstrates a cyber security game they developedST PHOTO: Kua Chee Siong

AS SINGAPORE grows increasingly wired, more manpower will be needed to keep its online infrastructure safe from malicious attacks- and the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) is reaching out to young talents to ensure that the nation's cyber security is kept up to speed.

"We will need more and more cyber-security engineers in Singapore, going forward," said DSTA cyber-security director Tan Ah Tuan.

He was speaking at the award ceremony of the third Cyber Defenders Discovery Camp held at the Singapore University of Technology and Design yesterday.

These camps for pre-university and tertiary students aim to raise awareness of cyber security and to interest them in a career within the field.

Twenty-two teams from junior colleges, polytechnics and universities took part in the three-day camp, which saw a record turnout of 323 students this year - three times that of the previous years.

Participants went for a two-day crash course on how cyber attacks are launched and how to defend against these attacks through firewalls and patching up server vulnerabilities.

They applied their skills at a competition yesterday, where each team had to defend its own servers and network while attacking the other teams' systems at the same time.

Minister of State for Defence Mohamad Maliki Osman, who was the guest of honour, said the camp was to search for "the best and brightest to be Singapore's future cyber defenders".

The nation's cyber-defence workforce and its skill sets must increase, said Dr Maliki, in order to stay ahead of cyber attackers.

Undergraduate Erickson Tjoa, 24, who was in the winning team in the university/polytechnic category, said the experience had made him more interested in cyber security. "I originally wanted to go into academia, but this field is more creative and exciting," said Mr Tjoa.

According to Mr Tan, agencies will require innovative and creative cyber defenders to fight the ever-growing threat of cyber attacks.

"We do offer internships to the teams who display aptitude in this area," said Mr Tan.

That was the route Mr Elvin Poh took. The 27-year-old was a participant at the inaugural camp in 2012, and is now a cyber-defence engineer at DSTA's Cybersecurity Programme Centre.

"The camp was my first glimpse into the cyber-security world, where I developed my interest in learning how to protect systems," said Mr Poh.

lesterh@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2015, with the headline 'S'pore 'will need more cyber defenders''. Print Edition | Subscribe