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MCI Cyber Security

As how we eat, shop, and even play become more intertwined with technology, cyber security plays an even greater role in our lives. But who exactly and with what skills do they secure the online world? The managing director of homegrown cyber security firm Quann, Foo Siang-Tse, takes apart common misconceptions about what the industry does and how you can be a part of it. Quann provides training under the Company-Led Training programme (CLT), a structured development programme that aims to enable fresh and mid-level professionals to acquire specialist, expert or mastery-level competencies for jobs in demand by the industry such as, cyber security, data analytics, software development, Internet of Things and network and communications platforms. 

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Myth No. 1: It’s a technology issue.

This is one of the biggest misconceptions about cyber security. Simply because there’s the word “cyber”, the assumption is that technology is key while people play a secondary role. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There is both art and science to the job. Science is of course technology, and art comes with instincts, skills, and experience. This is very critical because the adversary is not a computer. It’s a living, breathing human being using tools trying to wreak havoc on your systems. So just as there are people plotting and planning on that side, we need our own people on this side to defend our customers.

Myth No. 2: Only engineers can apply.

With the misconception that cyber security is a very tech and hardware based industry, the perception is that the jobs available are primarily engineering. But the reality is, even though cyber security is only a sliver in the ICT industry, there is a wide array of jobs available. There are consultants who help clients understand their security baselines and give advice on ways to improve; there are engineers who install the equipment into the systems and ensure that they operate effectively; at the frontline we have security and threat analysts monitoring and managing our customers’ security networks 24/7. You just need to have engineering or computer science as a foundation to start exploring the world of Cyber Security.  

Myth No. 3: There is a high barrier to entry to joining the industry.


Our trainees from the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s Company Led Training (CLT) initiative typically start out as security analysts. We will provide them with some classroom training to help them understand how our systems work. After that, they work on real-life projects, guided by industry practitioners as their mentors, at our Security Operations Centre. It typically takes up to nine months for the trainees to acquire various practical skills required for them to support Security Operations effectively. Even then they won’t be left on their own. There’s always an operations manager around to help the newcomers. It’s like a healthcare environment—doctors don’t work alone. If one catches something and the other doesn’t, they sort it out as a team.

 

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Myth No. 4. You need only technical skills for the job.


Computer technology can only do so much, and human makes the judgment call, whether it’s a bona fide threat or not. It’s like healthcare. If you look at a person’s health report, and you see high blood pressure, high pulse rate, high cholesterol, what does it mean? Is the patient leading an unhealthy lifestyle? Maybe, maybe not. It could be genetics. In this line, you also need soft skills because a security analyst has to explain the technical issues to the customers, and find out from them what their specific needs are. That’s how we train our staff. Going back to the same healthcare analogy, if you look at the indicators objectively, it seems like that patient is leading an unhealthy lifestyle. But if you ask him, he’ll tell you, ‘Look, I’m actually a vegan and I exercise three times a week’. That’s not information that you can just pull out from the report. You’ll have to ask the patient to understand the context, before applying your expertise.

Myth No. 5. Only governments and banks need cyber security.

That was what many would agree with about five years ago, when the spectre of cyber security threat did not seem as great. But the high profile incidences in the last few years have really brought the concept of cyber security to the fore. Several companies like K Box have been taken to task by the Personal Data Protection Commission. Enterprises do know that they are at risk of cyber attacks. In the past, the stereotypical hacker was an 18-year-old in a hoodie, hacking into systems to prove a point. Now, cyber-crime is very lucrative. Credit card data, healthcare data, and family tree data are very valuable. Companies and corporates pay for them although they may not be aware of how they were obtained. Data is the new oil of the new economy. 


The CLT programme is one of seven professional development programmes under the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA), an initiative driven by the Infocomm Media Development Authroity (IMDA) and in collaboration with industry partners and hiring employers such as Quann. TeSA offers various programmes to support current ICT professionals as well as aspiring-ICT professionals to upgrade and acquire new skills and domain knowledge that are in demand, and to stay competitive and meet challenges of a fast-moving digital landscape. Find out more about the various professional development programmes and courses under TeSA here

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