The Foundation of a Secure Cyberspace
Date of Publish: 4 December 2019
Q: Why is it important for Singapore to build up a vibrant cybersecurity ecosystem?
CH: Cybersecurity is a key enabler for Singapores Smart Nation initiatives. We can only reap the benefits of technology if our systems can be trusted. To support Singapores cybersecurity needs, we need a vibrant ecosystem consisting of a sustainable pool of skilled cybersecurity talents, technologically advanced companies and strong research performers.
Cybersecurity is a field that will open up opportunities in the digital economy, with an expected market growth of S$3 billion by 2030. With advanced infrastructure and a highly skilled IT workforce, Singapore is wellplaced to build a vibrant cybersecurity ecosystem.
Q: What steps have CSA taken to foster a healthy cybersecurity ecosystem?
CH: CSA recognises that there is a current shortage of cybersecurity professionals, and is drawing from different talent pools to address this.
Initiatives such as the Singapore Cyber Youth Programme (SG Cyber Youth) provide students with early exposure to cybersecurity through training camps, competitions and learning journeys, and encourage them to consider it as a career. Students who are keen to pursue technology roles within the public service may also receive support through the Smart Nation Scholarship.
Fresh graduates and mid-career ICT and STEM professionals also have opportunities to be up-skilled for the cybersecurity profession through the Cyber Security Associates and Technologists (CSAT) programme.
Cybersecurity requires both men and women with varied experience and perspectives to tackle challenges effectively. As such, we encourage more women to come forward to join the profession. At the Singapore International Cyber Week (SICW) 2019, CSA coorganised the first Women in Cyber event, where women cybersecurity leaders and practitioners gathered to share best practices on attracting more females to the industry and expand the talent pool.
In addition to building up a skilled workforce, CSA has rolled out several initiatives to drive innovation in cybersecurity. This includes the launch of the Cybersecurity Industry Call for Innovation, where solution providers propose innovative ways to address the challenges faced by users. Selected proposals will receive funding under the Co-innovation and Development Proof-of-Concept (CID-POC) funding scheme. We also collaborated with government agencies and enterprises to establish the regions first cybersecurity entrepreneur hub, Innovation Cybersecurity Ecosystem at Block71 (ICE71) to develop and accelerate cybersecurity start-ups.
The cybersecurity ecosystem has been further enhanced with our recent achievement as a Certificate Authorising Nation under the Common Criteria Recognition Arrangement (CCRA). This helps to boost the marketability of cybersecurity products developed locally through certification against a globally recognised quality standard.
Q: How are the responses so far to your efforts in developing Singapores cybersecurity ecosystem?
CH: Response thus far to our recent initiatives on innovation and manpower development have been encouraging.
For instance at the Cybersecurity Call for Innovation in 2018, we received more than 70 proposals from 58 companies of which eight proposals have been awarded with funding. With double the available funding this year, we hope to have more cybersecurity solution providers coming forward to take up this challenge.
Through the ICE71, about 200 mentors have provided guidance on go-to-market strategies to cybersecurity start-ups. The ICE71 have also organised 40 events and reached out to more than 50,000 members of public in less than a year.
Since January 2019, 6 evaluation laboratories, including laboratories that are globally recognised, have been approved to perform product evaluation under the Singapore Common Criteria Scheme, and several cybersecurity products have since been certified locally.
In terms of manpower development, responses to our programmes have been encouraging as well. We saw increased participation in the Youth Cyber Exploration Programme, a key programme under SG Cyber Youth, from 100 secondary school students last year to around 400 students this year. The goal is to reach out to 10,000 students over the next 3 years. We also saw an almost three fold increase in applications for this years Smart Nation Scholarship.
Q: What does it take to pursue a career in cybersecurity?
CH: When most people think of a cybersecurity career, the mental image is typically that of a monotonous routine of staring at computers all day. In reality, a career in cybersecurity is far from monotonous. It is a dynamic field and it offers rich and diverse career paths.
In the cyberspace, threats are ever evolving and becoming more sophisticated. Thus, we need people with sound technical skills, keen analytical abilities, and willingness to learn constantly in order to keep up with the fastchanging cyber threat landscape.
It is also crucial that we have professionals in this domain who are forward-thinking to formulate cybersecurity strategies and policies, in addition to having communication skills to effectively engage the cybersecurity industry and public.
The cybersecurity industry requires multidisciplinary competencies, and I welcome people who have what it takes to consider joining this meaningful profession.