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Singapore MINDEF launches Cyber NSF Scheme to bolster cyber defence capabilities

Singapore MINDEF launches Cyber NSF Scheme to bolster cyber defence capabilities

On
Feb 12, Singapore Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) signed its first work-learn
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with an education institute where full-time
national servicemen (NSF) are sent for academic upgrading while employed in an
operational role.

As
part of ongoing efforts to strengthen cyber defence capabilities, MINDEF is
launching the Cyber NSF scheme to tap on cyber talents from the NSF pool. The
scheme aims to develop committed and skilled Cyber NSFs to defend Singapore’s
military networks.

According
to a press
release
by MINDEF, its Defence Cyber Organisation (DCO) and the Singapore
Institute of Technology (SIT) signed a work-learn MOU to seal the collaboration. The MOU was signed by MINDEF’s Deputy Secretary
(Special Projects) and Defence Cyber Chief Mr David Koh, and Deputy President
(Academic) and Provost, SIT Professor Loh Han Tong.

Officiating the MOU signing was Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and
Second Minister for Defence Mr Ong Ye Kung, who also announced: (1) the Cyber
NSF Scheme, which all full-time national servicemen (NSFs) in cyber vocations
will now come under, and (2) the Cyber Specialist Award, a short-term contract
which will be offered to selected cyber NSFs who demonstrate the requisite
aptitude and skill, and who meet the stringent selection requirements for the
award.

Under
the first-of-its-kind Cyber NSF Work-Learn Programme, NSFs employed in an
operational role will also be sent for academic upgrading at SIT. This will
equip NSFs with the necessary skills to better perform their duties.

At
the basic level, NSFs will be trained as Cyber Operators and tasked to conduct
threat monitoring and assessment. Cyber NSFs will be deployed in a range of
operational roles within the cyber domain. These roles are split into 4 broad
areas: (1) cybersecurity monitoring, (2) threat assessment and response, (3)
vulnerability audit and penetration testing, and (4) malware analysis and cyber
forensics.

Those
with higher aptitude and skills, and who meet stringent selection requirements,
will be offered the opportunity to take up the Cyber Specialist Award, which is
a short-term contract on Regular service on top of their full-time NS.

These
Cyber Specialists will undergo a work-learn programme with the Singapore
Institute of Technology (SIT) and earn professional certifications that will
prepare them for more technically demanding cybersecurity jobs in MINDEF and
the Singapore Armed Forces. Time will be catered for them to attend training at
SIT, where they can receive SIT academic credits in areas such as network
security, digital forensics and applied cryptography, upon the completion of
their short-term contract with the SAF.

For
those who subsequently gain admission to the relevant SIT undergraduate
programme, their SIT credits are eligible for credit recognition and they can
expect to graduate alongside peers in their cohort who completed their
full-time NS ahead of them.

In
addition, these Cyber Specialist Award recipients will also have the
opportunity to upgrade their skills through internationally-recognised
cybersecurity professional courses such as Sysadmin, Audit, Network and
Security (SANS) Institute Courses.

According
to Minister Ong, the new Cyber NSF Scheme was a meaningful breakthrough which
is a marrying of 3 trends: (1) the operational requirements of the Singapore
Armed Forces to defend the country better, especially in the area of cyber
defence, (2) the rise of a young group that is au fait with cyber defence, which
the country can tap and leverage on their expertise, and (3) an evolution of
teaching methods in all universities and Institutes of Higher Learning to teach
beyond lectures but also through hands-on experience.”

The
programme was made possible through close collaboration between MINDEF, the
Cyber Security Agency (CSA), SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) and SIT.

A pilot batch of participants will enlist for NSF
in the second half of 2018. For future intakes, interested pre-enlistees may
apply online. Applicants are expected to possess baseline knowledge and skills
in cybersecurity. Those with a track record in cybersecurity will be
well-suited for the scheme. Applicants will be put through a rigorous selection
test designed to test their skills and aptitude in relevant areas such as
cryptography, security architecture and application security, as well as
psychometric tests and practical problem-solving scenarios.

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