$43m for new lab to bolster nation's cyber security

A new laboratory launched under an official National Research Foundation (NRF) scheme will add more firepower to Singapore's battle against cyber-security threats.

The NRF, National University of Singapore (NUS) and telco Singtel will invest $43 million in the lab over the next five years to develop new ways to fight such threats.

The NUS-Singtel Cyber Security Research and Development Laboratory will dive deep into areas such as quantum cryptography, which uses light to secure communications over fibre-optic networks, as well as data analytics and machine learning, which helps in the auto-detection of threats.

"Such public-private R&D collaboration aligns public research to industry needs and accelerates innovations to market," said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean at the lab's launch yesterday.

Mr Teo, who is also chairman of the NRF and Coordinating Minister for National Security, warned that "we must constantly be on guard... to deal with increasingly sophisticated cyber threats".

Mr Teo Chee Hean warned that 'we must constantly be on guard... to deal with increasingly sophisticated cyber threats'.

The lab, which is located in an existing building in Heng Mui Keng Terrace Road, has some 30 researchers and project leaders from NUS and Singtel.

It has already embarked on a few projects, including one that uses predictive analytics to thwart impending cyber threats.

This involves analysing Singtel's real-time network data without compromising the privacy of the telco's customers.

"Singtel has a global footprint and is able to bring to the table a variety of real-life business challenges in cyber security that will excite the researchers at NUS," said Provost's Chair Professor David Rosenblum of the NUS Department of Computer Science, who heads the new lab.

NUS has developed some prototypes in quantum cryptography that will be tested over Singtel's network, he added.

The lab has also been tasked to develop a pool of cyber-security professionals. It is slated to host 100 researchers and train 120 new cyber-security professionals from undergraduate to postgraduate levels over the next five years.

It is the 10th lab supported under the NRF's Corporate Laboratory@University scheme, which aims to further collaboration between universities and private companies with a focus on applied research.

Another initiative under the NRF scheme is a $45 million facility set up jointly by Nanyang Technological University and Taiwanese electronics firm Delta Electronics to develop autonomous drones or driverless forklifts that can be controlled over the Internet. That initiative was announced in June .

The NRF in 2013 launched a five-year $130 million National Cyber Security Research and Development Programme to bolster the nation's security.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 25, 2016, with the headline '$43m for new lab to bolster nation's cyber security'. Print Edition | Subscribe