180 students attend boot camp to get young people interested in cyber security as career

Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Dr Janil Puthucheary at the Advanced Youth Cyber Exploration Programme Capture-The-Flag Competition 2021 PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

SINGAPORE - An 18-year-old has won an inaugural cyber security competition which involved students pitting their skills against each other in a capture-the-flag (CTF) competition.

Mr James Chin was one of 180 students from over 66 schools who attended the Advanced Youth Cyber Exploration Programme (A.YCEP) boot camp, which took place from Nov 17 to Dec 9.

While rival teams try to grab a physical flag from the opponent's base in the outdoor game, in the cyber security realms, it is about exploiting vulnerabilities to steal the digital version.

"I don't usually win CTFs so to win this one feels quite rewarding," said Mr Chin, who recently graduated from the National University of Singapore (NUS) High School of Math and Science.

He said he will enlist for national service soon, and hopes to read Information Security at NUS once he completes his service.

The A.YCEP boot camp and the inaugural CTF competition aim to introduce youths to career opportunities in cyber security, said the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), which organised the events.

A.YCEP is a step-up from the Youth Cyber Exploration Programme that was launched in 2018.

CSA said cyber security is an important growth sector in Singapore's economy and digital future.

It added that as the digitalisation of the economy expands further and cyber threats continue to grow in scale and sophistication, the demand to develop the talent pipeline will also increase.

Presenting the awards for the CTF competition held on Wednesday (Dec 15) was Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Health.

In his address, Dr Janil said adaptability is critical in the fight against the constantly evolving threat landscape of digital technologies.

"Today not only are the computing concepts much more complex than when I was your age and at your stage of education, but we have computing devices in our pockets," he added.

"The smartphones as a network are one of the most powerful computing devices that we have today and more importantly they are commonplace, they are by our side and have become an indispensable part of everyday life."

He noted that the reliance on smartphones also mean that such devices are now highly attractive targets for cyber threat actors.

Dr Janil cited a report this year by cyber security firm Check Point which showed that nearly half of the organisationssurveyed were hit by malicious mobile apps downloaded by their employees.

During the event, Dr Janil also announced that the CSA has developed a learning road map called the SG Cyber Youth Odyssey specifically targeted at youths to help them in their journey towards advancing their skills.

"As a cyber security professional, your work enables trust in Singapore's digital economy," he said.

"You will also play an important role in creating a safe digital environment for all of us."

Jodie Teo, 16, who recently graduated from Methodist Girls School, is interested in pursuing cyber security as a career.

"I've decided that I will continue to pursue cyber security alongside my studies, and after I finish my exams, I will probably go into a cyber security related course in university," said Jodie, who will be attending ACS Independent next year.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.