People and technology make up the core of the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) cyber defence capability. MINDEF launched the pilot Cyber NSF Scheme in February 2018 to tap on cyber talents with the requisite aptitude and skills from the full-time National Service (NS) pool for deployment in operational roles to defend MINDEF/SAF's systems and networks.
A partnership was established with the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) in 2018 to offer selected Full-time National Servicemen (NSF) cyber talents who are recipients of the Cyber Specialist Award the opportunity to undergo a three- or four-year undergraduate Work-Learn Programme (WLP). The WLP at SIT provides academic training that complements the Cyber Specialists' on-the-job training, prepares them for more technically demanding cybersecurity roles, and also earns them academic credits for modules that can be counted towards a cybersecurity degree from SIT's Information and Communications Technology (Information Security) programme.
New Work-Learn Programme at NUS
To expand the opportunities offered by the Cyber Specialist Award, MINDEF has partnered the National University of Singapore (NUS) School of Computing to offer a new WLP. Cyber Specialists on the WLP at NUS will be able to take up modules from the School of Computing's Information Security programme in areas such as software engineering, cryptography and digital forensics, and earn academic credits that can be counted towards a cybersecurity degree from NUS. Interested applicants would have to apply to and gain admission into the NUS School of Computing's Information Security programme on their own merit before they can join the WLP at NUS.
Both WLPs at SIT and NUS are designed with robust and integrated curriculums to equip Cyber Specialists with the requisite knowledge and necessary skills for their operational roles. The on-the-job demands and academic credits earned are similar for Cyber Specialists across both WLPs. Cyber Specialists who complete the three- or four-year WLP and pursue the remainder of the Information Security degree programmes can expect to graduate at the same time as their cohort peers who completed their full-time NS ahead of them.
Cyber Specialist Award
The response to the Cyber Specialist Award has been encouraging with around 170 NSFs having received the Cyber Specialist Award. There have been four intakes of Cyber Specialists with the pioneer cohort having graduated from the Cyber Specialist Cadet Course (CSCC) in August 2019.
Upon graduation from the CSCC, Cyber Specialists are deployed in a range of operational roles to defend MINDEF/SAF's networks and systems, including in the areas of incident response, cyber forensics, malware analysis and penetration testing. Cyber Specialists will subsequently continue to attend classes on a part-time basis over the three- or four-year duration.
Interested applicants are expected to possess baseline knowledge and skills in cybersecurity. Applicants will be put through a series of rigorous selection tests designed to test their aptitude for problem-solving and skills in areas such as cryptography, security architecture and application security. Interested pre-enlistees may apply online at www.mindef.gov.sg/CyberNSF.
A Highly-Skilled Cyber Workforce
The Cyber NSF Scheme, together with the uniformed Command, Control, Communications and Computers Expert (C4X) vocation for military personnel and Defence Cyber Expert (DCX) job specialisation for non-uniformed personnel, form a highly-skilled cyber workforce to defend MINDEF/SAF's systems and networks. The Cyber NSF Scheme also contributes to the strengthening of the national cybersecurity ecosystem by developing cybersecurity talents in their youth.
These investments in people and training are part of MINDEF/SAF's efforts to strengthen its cyber defence capability. Cyber defence operations across the defence sector include SAF military networks and systems, MINDEF corporate IT and internet-facing systems, as well as Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA)'s, DSO National Laboratories (DSO)'s, defence industries', and MINDEF-related organisations' networks and systems.