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Nurturing Future Cyber Defenders

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At the Cyber Defenders Discovery Camp held in June 2017, 400 students from 26 junior colleges, Integrated Programme schools and tertiary institutions sharpened their cyber defence skills and gained first-hand insights into a career in cybersecurity.

Held at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), the camp kicked off with lectures and hands-on activities to build up the participants’ foundation in cybersecurity techniques. They learnt how to conduct security assessments of IT networks, perform network monitoring and analysis, and even mount cyber incident responses. As training was carried out in a highly-realistic simulated IT environment, they were able to understand and put the theories into practice effectively.

Over the last two days of the camp, participants applied their skills in a thrilling team competition consisting over 100 different challenges. In teams of four, they defended their own systems and sought our other teams’ system vulnerabilities at the same time.

An award ceremony was held on 8 June after the competition ended. In his speech, Chairman of the CDDC 2017 and Director (Cybersecurity) Tan Ah Tuan encouraged participants to pursue their interest in cyber and contribute to our nation’s cyber defences.

“Through the camp, we have given a glimpse into the important role that defence engineers play in protecting our critical assets and systems … It is our hope to nurture future generations of cyber defenders,” he said.

Giving the keynote address, the Guest of Honour, Minister of Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung said that the availability of people and talent were critical to the success of building up Singapore’s cyber defence.

“To the winners and outstanding performers of this camp, you will take home your medals and prizes and you will be invited to go through the selection process to join the cyber defence vocation … If you are selected, for Full-Time National Service, you serve by defending Singapore’s cyberspace,” he said.

He presented awards to the winning teams of the Junior College/Integrated Programme (JC/IP) and University/Polytechnic categories.

The Champion teams also shared about their winning strategies and demonstrated one of the competition challenges to Minister Ong – showing him how they infiltrated a security camera system using a smart device.

Velusamy Sathiakumar Ragul Balaji from SUTD, who is one of the champion team members and also a returning CDDC participant, said: “Every year, the CDDC challenges are set at higher standards, so we get more vigorous training and everyone gets more experienced. The competition is also very realistic, because there is no prompting. We had to discover our targets, find out if they had any vulnerabilities and then patch or exploit them.”

Another champion team member, Zheng Chenxin from Hwa Chong Institution, who was participating in CDDC for the first time added: “There aren’t many large-scale competitions in Singapore comparable to CDDC, so this was a very good experience and learning platform for me to improve my cybersecurity skills.”

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