Training to be a cyber policeman

The Economic Development Board has been nurturing key industries that are driving Singapore's economy and will take it into the future with attractive employment prospects for people here. Arti Mulchand profiles computer security professionals in the information and communications technology sector.

As he boarded his flight to Lyon, France, for a five-month internship with international police agency Interpol in May 2011, Mr Teh Kaiwen's mind was filled with cloak-and-dagger images from the movies.

When he got there, he was underwhelmed.

He says: "I expected to see plainclothes detectives with guns, or a command centre full of computers. But all it was, really, was just an office.

"That said, it was exciting and it was fascinating working with investigators from over 30 countries."

Mr Teh, then a 26-year-old student at Temasek Polytechnic's School of Informatics and IT, was attached to Interpol's Information Security Outreach Department and helped lay the foundation for a digital forensics database.

He returned to Singapore full of ideas and jumped at the chance to help develop a cloud forensic application - the Facebook Forensics Toolkit - for a local law enforcement agency as his senior year project.

He says: "I felt Facebook had much untapped potential, in terms of helping to solve crime.

"You can infer a lot from the data that has been gathered, including check-ins and spots that a person might frequent.

"So I used the Facebook Application Programming Interface (API) to create an application that downloads this data so it can be analysed."

Facebook's API allows developers to retrieve information from the social networking website.

Now, the Singapore Management University scholar is in his second year studying Information Systems Management.

"Since I was eight, I have been fascinated by computers. Given the reliance on IT by so many industries, I thought security would be an interesting area to explore," he says.

This was what led him to take several computer security courses. The cyber-sleuth-in-training, who will graduate in two years, hopes to be able to start his own IT security consultancy.

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Starting his own company will also allow him to fulfil his childhood ambition of becoming a policeman, albeit a cyber version.

Said Mr Teh: "It is a slightly different context, but I have found my calling."

This article was first published on May 5, 2014