alphaspirit - Fotolia

Singtel to groom cyber security talent with new portal

The Cyber Security Experience will offer budding cyber sleuths a chance to chart their careers and test their skills in cyber war games

Singtel is upping the ante in plugging Singapore’s cyber security talent gap with a new portal aimed at attracting students and mid-career workers to take up jobs in cyber security.

Dubbed Cyber Security Experience (CSX), the portal, developed together with the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), will provide information on career paths as well as showcase the efforts involved in fending off cyber attacks.

Visitors to the portal will also get a chance to test their skills in cyber challenges that will assess their understanding of cyber security terms, concepts and operational principles.

Those who fare well will be invited to Singtel’s Cyber Security Institute to hone their skills in cyber war games conducted on four weekends a year, and get a chance to be mentored by cyber security experts from Singtel and CSA, said Bill Chang, CEO for group enterprise at Singtel.

At a media briefing on 10 July 2017, Chang said CSX runs on LifeJourney, an online career simulation platform, and is modelled after the US National Security Agency’s Day of Cyber programme, which has drawn more than five million participants in just over a year.

Prior to the launch of CSX, Singtel had engaged almost 1,000 students from various schools and institutions in a series of trials.

To reach out to more students, Singtel is partnering Singapore’s five polytechnics, the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and secondary schools to use CSX as a tool to raise awareness and interest in cyber security.

Chang told Computer Weekly that Singtel has set targets on the number of CSX participants it hopes to eventually hire, but declined to reveal specific numbers due to business sensitivities.

However, he noted that since Singtel established its cyber security business in 2014, the company has grown its talent pool from less than 50 to more than 2,000. “I expect this number to ramp up significantly,” he said.

Read more about cyber security in Singapore

Beyond Singtel, Chang said the CSX platform will benefit the larger cyber security industry, a point that was also highlighted by Singapore’s minister for higher education and skills, Ong Ye Kung.

Noting that companies such as Google and Swatch have been grooming talent not only for themselves but also for their respective industries, turning those efforts into profit centres rather than cost centres, Ong said organisations need to adapt to such “new realities of talent development”.

In February 2017, Singapore’s government-led Committee on the Future Economy called for the country to shore up its expertise in data analytics and cyber security as part of efforts to build strong digital capabilities in its economy.

The government has since accepted the committee’s recommendations, and will be recruiting and building cyber security talent through Singapore’s military conscription programme.  

Public feedback on new cyber security bill

Separately, the government is seeking feedback on a proposed cyber security bill that will spell out the responsibilities of critical information infrastructure (CII) operators and empower the CSA to manage and respond to cyber security threats and incidents, among other goals.

“Against the backdrop of proliferating cyber incidents globally and locally, it is imperative that we take a more pro-active and holistic approach to strengthen our resilience against cyber attacks, especially for CIIs,” the CSA said in a statement.

“New cyber security legislation is needed so that we can take pro-active measures to protect our CIIs, respond expediently to cyber threats and incidents and facilitate sharing of cyber security information across critical sectors,” it added.

David Siah, country manager of Trend Micro Singapore, said the new cyber security bill is timely given the major ransomware attacks that have occurred over the first half of the year.

“The new proposals place greater emphasis on critical infrastructure-related sectors such as transport, energy, and healthcare – important sectors for smart city development. As the bill lays bare what the industry needs to do, we hope it can ease the anxiety surrounding cyber attacks, decode how we can tackle the issue better, and herald a new spring for the cyber security industry in Singapore,” he said.

Read more on IT education and training