Fund to offer up to $90,000 for initiatives to boost growth of S'pore's cyber talent

More talents are needed to fight cyber threats. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - More talents are needed to fight cyber threats, so a new fund will be launched later this month offering up to $90,000 for initiatives to boost their growth.

Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister-in-charge of cyber security and the Smart Nation initiative, made an open call for participation on Friday (Jan 14).

"If you have ideas for expanding or enriching the cyber security community, for developing and recognising skills, or for creating more training and job placements, we want to hear from you," she said.

Under the Cyber Security Agency's (CSA) new SG Cyber Talent Development Fund, Singaporeans, permanent residents and organisations registered in Singapore can apply for funding for various projects.

Organisers of community projects such as public engagement events, mentorship programmes and career sharing sessions can receive up to $6,000 for projects lasting up to six months.

For skills development and recognition projects such as technical workshops, cyber security competitions and conferences, organisers can receive up to $20,000 for projects lasting up to a year.

Training or job placement programmes for cyber security talent, including conversion programmes, will receive the highest tier of support with up to $90,000 for projects lasting up to a year.

Applications for proposals will open in January, April, July and October of each year on the OurSG Grants Portal.

Mrs Teo, who is the Minister for Communications and Information, said the new fund will support communities and organisations in coming up with initiatives that will help Singapore's cyber security ecosystem grow.

She was speaking at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre during the annual Cyber Security Awards 2021 organised by the Association of Information Security Professionals.

Mrs Teo also said CSA will hold the fourth edition of Exercise Cyber Star in the last week of January. The exercise, which last ran in 2019, is a whole-of-government effort to test Singapore's cyber-incident management and emergency response plans.

Minister for Communications and Information Mrs Josephine Teo delivering a speech at the 4th Cybersecurity Awards 2021. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

More details on this year's exercise will be announced at a later date.

The two initiatives by CSA are part of Singapore's overall cyber-security strategy launched last year, which Mrs Teo said is "not merely a government blueprint, but really a call to action for all stakeholders in our cyber security ecosystem".

The cyber threats that Singapore faces are serious and urgent, Mrs Teo said, citing the Log4J incident in December last year.

This refers to the discovery of critical vulnerabilities in a widely used piece of open source software known as Log4J, which could potentially allow attackers to take full control of affected systems.

"Log4J's presence in countless applications and products and even supply chains means that organisations have real trouble knowing just how exposed and at risk they are," said Mrs Teo, adding that malicious attempts to exploit the vulnerability surged 300 times within days after the disclosure was first made.

"It is safe to say that just about every IT team, in Singapore and around the world, has been working tirelessly since December to study developments, share information, implement patches and respond to Log4J-related incidents," Mrs Teo said.

Another threat comes from state-sponsored hackers and cyber criminal groups, which are increasing in sophistication.

Mrs Teo said high-profile incidents in the past year, including the SolarWinds, Colonial Pipeline and Kaseya hacking incidents, demonstrated how disruptive supply chain breaches and ransomware attacks can be.

"We are now acutely aware that the effects of cyber attacks can spill over to the physical world. Whether it is the shutdown of big supermarket chains or the disruption of healthcare services, the impact is tangible."

During the event on Friday, Mrs Teo presented awards to eight individuals and companies in recognition of their contributions to the cyber security ecosystem in Singapore and the region.

The award winners included DBS Bank and cyber security firms Acronis and Responsible Cyber, as well as cyber-security professionals and students.

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