More women needed in cyber security to meet high industry demand: Sim Ann

Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Sim Ann said more women can be encouraged to join the cyber-security industry and thrive in it.
Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Sim Ann said more women can be encouraged to join the cyber-security industry and thrive in it.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - The Republic needs more women to take up positions in cyber security, a sector that is facing a shortfall of talent.

On Thursday (Oct 3), Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Sim Ann said more women can be encouraged to join the cyber-security industry and thrive in it.

"Given the high demand for cyber security talent, it would be a pity to draw from only half the population," she said, noting that estimates of the proportion of women in cyber security globally range from as low as 10 per cent to about 25 per cent.

"Effective strategies to tackle cyber security... must integrate the perspectives of all people - both men and women - so that the technologies deployed and the process implemented are practical and inclusive."

In her opening address to audience members at the Women in Cyber event during the Singapore International Cyber Week (SICW), Ms Sim outlined three ways to get more women to join the cyber-security industry and thrive in it.

First, by engaging young people to raise awareness of the opportunities in cyber security. She said this is important as people often make career choices early in life.

One such initiative is the Singapore Cyber Youth Programme, which reaches out to secondary school-level students for boot camps and career mentoring sessions.

The other two ways are for women to constantly update and deepen their skills to take advantage of emerging trends in a fast-paced sector, and to have a strong community network, she added.

"Women support networks shed light on women role models who can inspire young aspiring professionals. They also serve as a comfortable launch pad for women to plug into broader industry and community networks," Ms Sim said.

 
 
 
 

Ms Sim's call for more women to join the industry follows a warning by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) in July that the industry potentially faces a shortage of up to 3,400 professionals by 2020.

Ms Alina Tan, 26, was among the many female cyber-security professionals in the audience for the Women in Cyber event.

Combining her twin interests in cyber security and car modifications led Ms Tan to specialise in automotive cyber security.

She started working in the Land Transport Authority's Cyber Division last month, after spending about two years in cyber-security consulting.

"What I enjoy most about working in cyber security is that I'm always learning something new," said Ms Tan, who in her free time organises weekly meet-ups for like-minded individuals in the local community to conduct their own research in car cyber security.

"I get a sense of satisfaction from discovering vulnerabilities in a system and then finding ways to secure it. You never know what you're going to find in there and that's very interesting for me."

Held at Suntec City and Convention Centre from Oct 1 to Oct 3, SICW 2019 is the fourth edition of the annual event organised by CSA.