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Cybersecurity: Making a Career of IT

Date of Publish: 4 December 2019

Over the course of a 20-year career, I have seen cybersecurity grow and develop into a major global industry, against the backdrop of a rapidly-changing threat landscape. But one thing has remained constant throughout my professional journey, and that is my love for the job. An increased demand for cybersecurity services around the world means that there is never been a better time to pursue a career in this dynamic field.


Dr Ong: At its core, cybersecurity is about protecting people and vital infrastructure from harm and one key area of focus is in industrial control systems (ICS). My team and I are tasked with creating solutions to protect ICS, thereby ensuring that critical infrastructure such as industrial devices and networks is resilient and secure. We are also building tools to analyse how threat groups are behaving and changing, enhancing the effectiveness of the global security monitoring centres of Trustwave. The work we do is impactful. Recently, our researchers identified a vulnerability that led to an equipment manufacturer issuing security advisories to its customers worldwide.

As the lead for the Emerging Technologies team at Trustwave, my focus is on identifying cybersecurity needs in emerging technology domains. My job requires me to provide insights and make strategic recommendations that align with business goals. Besides technical know-how, I take into account business objectives, customers needs and market realities, to successfully deliver services and solutions. Building commercially viable cybersecurity products requires an environment where new products can be incubated and distributed globally, and a platform which brings together people in research, engineering, product leadership and those with business acumen.

As the world gets hyper connected and more digital, more cybersecurity technology solutions and services will be required to protect businesses against increasingly sophisticated and complex threats. Given this changing landscape, my team has since moved beyond our initial focus on ICS security to concentrate on cybersecurity data science, automotive security and 5G security.

Across the industry, there is a global shortage of trained cybersecurity experts, and studies have projected a shortfall of a few million practitioners over the next few years.


Dr Ong: A career in cybersecurity is exciting and there is always something new to learn. In fact, there is great flexibility to experience different roles and industries. There are roles, in the public and private sectors, catering to different inclinations and aspirations, be it in deep technical expertise, consultancy or in leadership and management. On a personal note, I have gained invaluable skills over the years, working in defence R&D, consulting, product engineering, applied research and now, management.

Within my team, I have seen, firsthand, the benefits of having people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Several are mid-career converts, proving it is not impossible to switch directions and pursue something you are passionate about. We have software developers who are now Offensive Security Certified Professionals, industrial control engineers who front our consulting engagements, and data scientists who work on cybersecurity-relevant models. 30% of my team are women, and we aim to boost that number as we build up the business. I value the diversity of my team because their different backgrounds enable us to look at problems with fresh perspectives and develop tools that better cater to the evolving needs of our customers.

As we grapple with a future that is digital and hyper connected, we need more people to become cyber professionals. So come on over, join us and let us make an impact!

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