This new Cyber NSF (Full-time National Serviceman) Scheme will allow those who are enlisting from the second half of 2018 to be deployed in cybersecurity roles in critical areas for Singapore's defence.
Interested applicants will go through a series of tests, including cryptography and network security, before being streamed into two roles Cyber Operators and Cyber Specialists.
The former will be tasked to conduct threat monitoring and assessment during their NS. Those with higher aptitude and skills who meet the stringent selection requirements will be offered the opportunity to take up the Cyber Specialist Award, a short-term contract on Regular service on top of their full-time NS.
These Cyber Specialists can choose between a three- or four-year contract where they 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 jobs. Upon commencement of the contract, Cyber Specialists will also receive salary equivalent to that of a Regular's.
The new scheme was announced by 2nd Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung on 12 Feb. He was officiating the signing of the "Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Cyber NSF Work-Learn Programme" between the Ministry of Defence's (MINDEF's) Defence Cyber Organisation (DCO) and SIT.
"We are marrying three trends together. One, the operational requirements of the Singapore Armed Forces, (which is) to defend our country better in the area of cyber defence. Two, the rise of a young group which is very au fait with (have a good knowledge of) cyber defence we want to tap and leverage on their expertise. They, too, want to do well in this field.
"Three, the teaching methods in all our universities and institutes of higher learning. It's not just pure lectures but also hands-on experience at the same time," said Mr Ong in a media interview at SIT.
The MOU is the first work-learn programme between MINDEF and an education institute where NSFs are sent for academic upgrading while employed in an operational role.
In his address at the MOU signing, MINDEF's Defence Cyber Chief, Mr David Koh, said: "This programme will deepen the skills of our Cyber Specialists so that they can attain a higher level of mastery and perform more specialised tasks such as cyber forensics, penetration testing, or malware analysis. The work experience and training they receive will position them well for a career in the cybersecurity industry."
Depending on their aptitude and the SAF's organisational needs, Cyber NSFs will be deployed in a range of operational roles in four domains: cybersecurity monitoring; threat assessment and response; vulnerability audit and penetration testing; and malware analysis and cyber forensics.
Through the tie-up with SIT, Cyber Specialist Award recipients will undergo further intensive training and take modules that will prepare them for their roles. They will attend classes alongside SIT undergraduates once a week, where they can receive academic credits in areas like network security, digital forensics and applied cryptography upon completion of their short-term contract with the SAF.
For example, an NSF under a three-year contract can attain up to 30 percent of his SIT credits through the work-learn programme; under a four-year contract, he can earn up to 50 percent of his credits. These will eventually count towards a cybersecurity degree.
Those who subsequently gain admission to the relevant SIT undergraduate programme can expect to graduate alongside peers in their cohort who completed their full-time NS ahead of them.
NSFs who decide not to take up the Cyber Specialist Award may be eligible to serve as Cyber Operators, or be deployed to other vocations depending on the SAF's operational requirements.
In the first year, MINDEF and the SAF will begin by recruiting about 60 cyber operators and cyber specialists each. The cyber specialists' intake will eventually increase to about 90 a year.