23 Feb 2018
SPEECH BY DR YAACOB IBRAHIM, MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION, AT THE INAUGURAL CYBERSECURITY AWARDS AND GALA DINNER 2018 ON 23 FEBRUARY 2018, 7.30PM AT SUNTEC CITY CONVENTION CENTRE
Mr David Koh, Chief Executive Officer of the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore,
Dr Steven Wong, President of the Association of Information Security Professionals,
Ladies and gentlemen
Singapore is digitalising in many areas to improve lives, but this also means that we are becoming ever more interconnected and vulnerable to cyber-attacks on a wide range of targets. Cybersecurity has never been more crucial to ensuring Singapore functions smoothly and safely.
2 So I am very happy to be here today at the Inaugural Cybersecurity Awards to recognise the pioneering individuals who have contributed significantly to breaking new ground in our cybersecurity landscape. We must remember though, that with our cybersecurity sector’s potential to exceed S$1 billion by the year 2020, these are early days yet and there are many more exciting untapped opportunities.
3 With the Cybersecurity Bill that was passed in Parliament earlier, more emphasis has been placed on the proactive protection of Critical Information Infrastructure against cyber-attacks. The Bill opens up opportunities for the industry to work together with the Government on developing capabilities and services to this end. Furthermore, Singapore’s strong international reputation as a trusted and credible partner can also open many doors for cybersecurity businesses based in Singapore, making this a good place to pilot and launch cybersecurity initiatives.
4 So with all these opportunities, this is a very exciting time to be in the industry. To take full advantage of these opportunities, we have to develop our people and raise professional standards.
5 Motivated and skilled people will be the key to growing our cybersecurity field. To help develop talent, the Government is stepping up collaborative efforts with the industry to enhance cybersecurity professionals’ skillsets. For instance, the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) started the Cybersecurity Associates and Technologists (CSAT) programme. Under this joint initiative, we work with industry partners to train and up-skill ICT professionals for cybersecurity jobs. The programme will help both fresh and mid-career ICT professionals to join the cybersecurity profession. I’m glad to say that more industry partners like MSD, a pharmaceutical company, have joined the seven other companies currently on the programme.
6 I am also happy to share that the CSAT programme has already yielded some success stories. Accel, a subsidiary of StarHub, has been able to train and convert ICT professionals and strengthen its cybersecurity capabilities in Access & Identity Management, Advanced Analytics, Active Response and Adaptive Defence through the CSAT programme. One of its employees, Mr Lai Zheng Kang, who is here with us today, is one such ICT professional. Zheng Kang was originally a network engineer and through Accel’s CSAT training programme, he has acquired cybersecurity expertise in security operations, threat intelligence, incident response and security system support, contributing to Accel’s expanded cybersecurity capabilities. Developing capabilities, even at mid-career level, is possible and crucial. I hope more companies, including the mid-sized companies, can step forward and collaborate with the Government in developing cybersecurity capabilities as part of their growth plans.
7 Besides our fresh graduates and mid-career professionals, our efforts to develop talent must start earlier among our youths – the next generation. To spark interest in cybersecurity among our young, CSA will be working with the Association of Information Security Professionals (AISP) on the Student Volunteers Recognition Programme to encourage our students from Institutes of Higher Learning to actively volunteer and promote cybersecurity in our schools and companies. We hope to excite our youth on the opportunities in the cybersecurity profession and encourage more to join this growing industry.
8 CSA is also working closely with IMDA to increase the number of scholarships offered for cybersecurity under the National Infocomm Scholarship Programme. One recipient of this scholarship is Preshant Achuthan. A cybersecurity enthusiast, he withdrew from Junior College after his first year to chase after his dreams by taking up a Diploma in Infocomm Security Management instead. Preshant might be young but already he has won many accolades and there are many more talented and passionate youths out there. We hope this scholarship will support and encourage them to embark on an exciting career in cybersecurity.
Raising Professional Standards
9 Even as we invest in our talent, we have to ensure that our professional standards are current and on par with international benchmarks. Our cybersecurity professionals must be globally competitive in this increasingly interconnected global economy. Raising our standards will put Singapore in a stronger position to capitalise on not just local, but global opportunities in cybersecurity.
10 In line with this, CSA is working with AISP and other professional bodies to ensure that our cybersecurity degree programmes are comparable with other international cybersecurity degree programmes. Our existing programmes such as CSAT and CSA Academy are already evaluated against the Cybersecurity Track of the ICT Skills Framework, which has been developed referencing internationally recognised standards.
11 However, we are going one step further. AISP is developing a Cybersecurity Common Body of Knowledge, in collaboration with, and taking reference from similar efforts around the world. AISP will also work on cross recognition of the Cybersecurity Common Body of Knowledge with other associations in the UK, US and Australia so that it is recognised in other countries.
12 CSA and AISP will also assess how other academic programmes, training courses and professional certifications are aligned to the Cybersecurity Common Body of Knowledge. This will allow our students and professionals to be trained in accordance with global standards, thereby giving them a competitive edge.
13 In addition, AISP is collaborating with international professional bodies like the Institute of Information Security Professionals in UK and the Australian Computer Society for mutual recognition of members and skills. This means that qualified professionals could be recognised and deployed internationally as long as they possess the necessary skills. This will greatly enhance the transferability of our cybersecurity professionals, opening them up to more international opportunities. These efforts are indeed invaluable in raising our professional standards, so I thank AISP for leading these efforts and encouraging other stakeholders to also join us.
Conclusion: Working Together
14 Strong cybersecurity is a key building block for Singapore’s digital transformation, so it is important to build up our cybersecurity capabilities by developing our talent and raising industry standards.
15 These are indeed exciting times for cybersecurity professionals, with many growth opportunities and unexplored territory. All of you here today are integral to developing Singapore’s cybersecurity capabilities and I hope that industry players, our educational institutions and our Government work together closely as we take the next steps forward. In fact, this Cybersecurity Awards and Gala Dinner tonight, a collaboration between CSA and eight professional and industry associations, is a good example of how fruitful this working relationship can be.
16 So congratulations once again to all award winners. Thank you for your contributions to Singapore’s cybersecurity industry. This is but the beginning. Let’s look forward to more exciting opportunities and growth together. On that note, I wish you a pleasant evening and a happy Lunar New Year.