Capabilities in the cyber domain are underpinned by skilled individuals with deep expertise. As part of ongoing efforts to strengthen cyber defence capabilities, MINDEF is launching the Cyber NSF scheme to tap on cyber talents with the requisite aptitude and skills from the full-time National Service (NSF) pool.
Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen and Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung had announced the new cyber vocation during the 2017 Committee of Supply Debate. These servicemen will now come under the Cyber NSF Scheme, which will allow NSFs to be deployed in cyber roles in critical areas for Singapore’s defence.
At the basic level, NSFs will be trained as Cyber Operators and tasked to conduct threat monitoring and assessment. 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 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.
Cyber NSFs will be deployed in a range of operational roles within the cyber domain. These roles are split into four broad areas – (1) cybersecurity monitoring (2) threat assessment and response; (3) vulnerability audit and penetration testing ; and (4) malware analysis and cyber forensics. Cyber NSFs will be deployed based on their aptitude and organisational need.
Commencement of Scheme
The scheme will be launched via a pilot trial for those enlisting in the second half of 2018.
Any pre-enlistee enlisting from the second-half of 2018 onwards is eligible to apply for the scheme. This may be done at www.mindef.gov.sg/CyberNSF. 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.
SIT Work-Learn Programme & Professional Courses
As part of a tie-up with SIT, Cyber Specialist Award recipients will undergo further intensive training and take modules that would prepare them for their Cyber Specialist roles. 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 award recipients will also have the opportunity to upgrade their skills through internationally-recognised cybersecurity professional courses (e.g. Sysadmin, Audit, Network and Security (SANS) Institute Courses).
Remuneration and Progression
During their NSF period, Cyber Operators will receive NSF allowance. Cyber Specialists will receive Regular pay under the terms and conditions of the contract. As they progress in their training and operational roles, they could be promoted up to First Sergeant (1SG).
Cybersecurity is a national imperative, and MINDEF is boosting its capabilities in this domain by harnessing cyber talents from the NSF pool. The scheme aims to develop committed and skilled Cyber NSFs to defend our military networks.