26 April 2016

Singtel Cyber Security Institute to upskill individuals and companies in cyber security

Singapore Telecommunications has set up the Singtel Cyber Security Institute (CSI) to enhance the cyber security skills and preparedness of businesses and governments in the Asia Pacific region. A hybrid between an advanced cyber range and an educational institute, the CSI is a first-of–its-kind organisation in the region to test and train companies in dealing with sophisticated cyber threats.

Bill Chang, Chief Executive Officer, Group Enterprise at Singtel said, “Based on our engagements with companies in Singapore, more than 85% do not have robust cyber response plans nor the opportunity to conduct realistic drills to test and sharpen such plans. This lack of cyber preparedness is worsened by the severe global shortfall of trained cyber security experts, which Forbes puts at some 1 million in 2016. This is why we’ve stepped up to the plate. We know we have to help companies secure themselves against a potential slew of increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks.”

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore's Minister-in-Charge of Cybersecurity, noted in his opening remarks at the official opening of the Singtel Cyber Security Institute that cyber experts who can address both present and future cyber threats will be in demand, and that a vibrant cybersecurity ecosystem must be cultivated to ensure that manpower with the right skills will be available.

"Our vision of a dynamic cybersecurity ecosystem is one that comprises strong local cybersecurity firms co-existing with established global companies, fed by a talented workforce. Across the economy, businesses must also be sensitive to cyber threats and adopt the right level of cybersecurity measures. Within this ecosystem, cybersecurity talents can circulate, providing the spark for greater innovation," he said.

Housed in a permanent space of over 10,000 sq ft, the institute provides cyber skills development and education programmes tailored to the varying needs of company boards, C-suite management, technology and operational staff. Boards and C-suite level participants will be trained in the areas of cyber threat awareness, risk management, business continuity planning and crisis communications preparation. The cyber operations team will be trained in defence and response capabilities to sharpen their skills.

“Cyber security is no longer just a technical issue to be tackled only at the operational level. It needs to involve all levels within an organisation including boards and C-suite management, and even external stakeholders such as regulators. We hope to arm enterprises and public agencies with the necessary knowhow to counter cyber threats in a holistic manner. This will help them mitigate the risks and costs associated with cyber disruptions,” Chang said.

The CSI can emulate the environments and operations of enterprises using state-of-the-art technologies. Like other cyber ranges the facility can simulate cyber attacks in order to test a company’s inherent vulnerabilities, defence and response capabilities. Unlike other ranges however, the new facility can easily replicate any company’s operating environment and use the latest range of cyber threats, including an extensive library of viruses and malware, to simulate attacks.

Singtel has brought together over 30 ICT and cybersecurity companies as partners for the CSI, Dr Yaacob said. "At the Institute’s cyber range, I understand that cyber professionals can also pit their skills against adversaries in realistic simulation environments. Exercises like these can help heighten cyber professionals’ knowledge of their roles and their responsiveness during cyber incidents," he commented.

An incubation lab at the CSI will focus on scanning for emerging and disruptive cybersecurity solutions. The lab will also enable the testing of proofs-of-concept, and the validation, adaptation, integration and eventual commercialisation of new solutions.

In conjunction with the launch of the CSI, Singtel announced that it is the first company in Singapore to work with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) on the Cyber Security Associates and Technologists (CSAT) Programme to train infocomm professionals in cyber security. 

Dr Yaacob shared that the dual-track programme nurtures fresh ICT and engineering professionals under the Associate track, while the Technologist track is for experienced professionals seeking to switch careers to focus on cybersecurity. 

"Under CSAT, both these groups can be upskilled through on-the-job training programmes led by companies which are CSAT training partners. These professionals can be trained for roles encompassing security assessment, security operations and the technology development of cybersecurity solutions. They will have the chance to take courses, and participate in local and overseas attachments identified by the CSAT training partners," he elaborated. 

"Trainees can apply their newfound skills to projects, and learn from the best through mentorships with experienced industry practitioners. The comprehensive training available through CSAT will help raise the standards of cyber experts, as well as strengthen the professionalism of the sector."

Under the CSAT programme, Singtel will train fresh infocomm technology professionals and equip them with basic cyber security skills. At the same time, Singtel will also provide experienced cyber security professionals with the opportunity to enhance their skills by training with leading cyber security experts. Through this two-pronged approach, Singtel aims to build a cyber security talent pipeline to drive its cyber security initiatives.

David Koh, Chief Executive of the CSA said, “A strong pool of cyber security talent is necessary to build a dynamic cyber security ecosystem that can support Singapore’s Smart Nation journey. With the introduction of the Cyber Security Associates and Technologists Programme and the setup of the Institute, we hope to encourage more to join the profession as well as enable cyber security professionals to hone their skills and stay a step ahead in the ever-evolving cyber security landscape.”
According to Dr Yaacob, Ernst & Young, NEC, Quann, Palo Alto Networks, and ST Electronics (Info-Security) are some of the companies which have indicated interest in being CSAT partners.

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