Mindef to talent-spot whiz-kids for cyber defence

About 400 participants took part in the five-day Cyber Defenders Discovery Camp 2017.

Students with a knack for cyber security could do their national service in a new Defence Ministry unit tasked to protect Singapore's cyberspace.

The ministry is working with educational institutions to talent-spot such whiz-kids for its Defence Cyber Organisation.

Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung made the announcement yesterday at a cyber-security camp for junior college and tertiary students, saying that winners and outstanding participants in cyber-security competitions and camps at educational institutions will be invited to try for a spot in the new unit.

Mr Ong envisioned the group as an elite force made up of "people with exceptional talent''.

"Hence, recruitment must be highly selective, and the demands of the vocation will be exacting and intense," he added.

The ministry plans to have about 2,600 cyber defenders in 10 years, with national servicemen roped into cyber defence from this August.

Past winners who have completed their full-time national service but are still active in the cyber-security industry may get to do their reservist training in cyber defence, Mr Ong said.

The fifth edition of the five-day Cyber Defenders Discovery Camp, held at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, is to raise awareness of cyber security and to interest students to pursue a career in it. There were 400 participants this year.

"We will expand future camps and make them more rigorous to better identify cyber talents," said Mr Ong.

The camp culminated in the minister presenting prizes to the winners of a competition organised by the Defence Science and Technology Agency and supported by the ministry.

Hwa Chong Institution student Won Ying Keat, a member of the winning team in the junior college/integrated programme category, is looking forward to the opportunity. "It will be a good chance to use the skills I am good at while serving the nation," said the 18-year-old, who is due to do his national service next year.

The director of cyber security at the Defence Science and Technology Agency, Mr Tan Ah Tuan, said many of the students at the camp plan to be cyber-security professionals.

"This is what we hope to achieve with the camp - to create awareness and nurture interest in cyber security among the bright young minds with us today," he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2017, with the headline Mindef to talent-spot whiz-kids for cyber defence. Subscribe