Think a career in cybersecurity means staring at computer screens all day? We sit down with Intan Safinas Mohd Tawfik, ASEAN desk head at CSA’s International Cyber Policy Office (ICPO), to find out what a typical day for her is like. Intan also shares how her four years with CSA have brought her to many interesting places and shown her the importance of international cooperation for a safe and secure cyberspace.
1. What sparked your interest in cybersecurity?
Everyone relies on technology and hardly a day goes by without us using it. However, interconnectedness has also increased the threats that we would face from cyber criminals. This fine line between the convenience that technology brings and the dangers that comes along with it greatly piqued my interest. I find cybersecurity an interesting yet intricate entity.
2. What is a typical day at work like for you?
I head the International Cyber Policy Office’s Policy Group, which oversees Singapore’s cybersecurity ties with entities such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its member states, as well as European and Indo-Pacific countries. The role of a country desk officer is to be the main point of contact (POC) for CSA with my counterparts from cyber agencies of other countries.
Having POCs is important to ensure the smooth progress of our work with our overseas partners. We are also able to understand how other countries organise their cyber landscape and mitigate cybersecurity issues. With these observations, country desk officers make recommendations on how Singapore can work together with other countries for a common cause – which is to create a safe and secure cyberspace.
My work also connects with what other divisions do. For example, ICPO assists CSA’s operations and technology divisions to establish close partnerships with our international and regional partners in areas such as regional capacity building efforts, sharing of best practices and training and education. At the same time, international and regional cyber developments also give us an opportunity to work closely with partners to address an increasingly transboundary and sophisticated threat.
3. What excites you about coming to work?
Cybersecurity is now a hot topic and I have never worked for an organisation with such a timely mission as CSA’s. Going to work means opportunities to contribute to this mission of securing our critical information infrastructure and our increasingly digitalised economy against cyber threats, through strong ties with our regional and international partners.
I have also built warm relations with my counterparts around the region, and these interpersonal ties make the work I do more rewarding.
4. Tell us something interesting about your job that not many people know about.
One interesting aspect of my job is getting to meet both local and foreign Ministers. This mainly takes place during our annual Singapore International Cyber Week (SICW), which is a key platform for cyber leaders from all over the world to forge partnerships and engage in critical dialogue on cybersecurity. Last year, I was part of the Singapore delegation that attended the ASEAN Digital Ministers’ Meeting in Vientiane, Laos. I was able to experience first-hand the discussions and decision-making process in a regional platform. The ASEAN Member States’ dedication to ensure that we have a single united voice in the region is truly heartening!
5. What are three qualities that are important for someone in your role to have?
The person must be meticulous, willing to learn and able to adapt to a dynamic work environment.