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Singapore Government Rolls Out Strategic Leadership Programme to Nurture Cyber Talent

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In 2020, Singapore’s cyber landscape saw an upsurge in ransomware incidents and online scams, mirroring global patterns and amidst growing digitisation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic’s panic and dread fuelled the expansion of COVID-19-related phishing, and the introduction of new technology to preserve business continuity during Work-from-Home phases opened new chances for threat actors.

The rapid pace of digitisation, combined with the increasing magnitude and sophistication of cyber threats, has brought the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore’s responsibilities into sharper focus. Singapore’s cyber landscape now contains a specific section charting milestones and collaborations with local and international partners, emphasising Singapore’s efforts to ensure stable and trustworthy cyberspace for the first time.

The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) recently launched the latest Strategic Leadership Programme under the SG Cyber Leaders Programme, to further develop local cybersecurity talents to improve the cybersecurity landscape.

The SG Cyber Leaders Programme is the first initiative implemented. It aims to develop a pool of top-tier local cyber leaders who are familiar with international best practices and cutting-edge technologies for dealing with ever-evolving cyber threats. The new Strategic Leadership Programme, communities of practice, and study trips will be used to expose participants to global best practices and technologies.

The subjects in the Strategic Leadership Programme will provide them with the skills and strategic knowledge they will need to hone their cybersecurity leadership and drive their organisations’ cybersecurity strategy and posture. Security Architecture, Emerging Technology Applications, Public-Private Partnerships in Cybersecurity, Understanding Cyberspace with Geopolitics, and the Role of the CISO and CEO are just a few of the subjects discussed.

In Singapore, cybersecurity is a rapidly growing industry. According to the Infocomm Media (ICM) Development manpower survey conducted by IMDA last year, there were 10,770 cybersecurity experts in Singapore in 2020, up from 6,000 in 2018. As the economy becomes more digital and cyber threats become more sophisticated, there is an increasing need to strengthen the cybersecurity workforce and support the sector’s continued growth by developing a robust and diverse talent pool.

Strong cyber leaders are essential for leading and nurturing the next generation of cyber talent so that they can fulfil cybersecurity jobs at all levels of an organisation. A “cyber leader” is the individual who is responsible for cybersecurity in his or her organisation.

The Strategic Leadership Programme will be run in conjunction with CSA by an external training provider. Open enrolment is planned to begin in early 2022, with CSA funding up to 90% of the programme for successful local applicants. Up to 20 local participants will benefit from each run of the annual programme, and CSA will assess the programme after receiving input from participants of each run.

OpenGov Asia reported that the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore had launched its Operational Technology Cybersecurity Competency Framework (OTCCF), which is designed to provide a foundation upon which Singapore can attract and develop talent for the emerging OT cyber security sector in the country.

OT system owners, including those from CII sectors and OT training providers, currently take reference from the Skills Framework for ICT under SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) to identify skills gaps and develop training plans.

Not only does the OTCCF map the job roles, technical skills and core competencies that are in need, it also captures the possible career pathways, showing the options for vertical and lateral progression. Under the plan, OT and IT system owners can refer to the OT cyber security capabilities required to attract the right people, train them adequately and map out their career pathways.

With the increased connectivity between IT and OT systems, the demand for job roles requiring competencies in both IT and OT domains has correspondingly increased. While the existing Skills Framework for ICT provides an overview of job roles, possible career tracks and technical competencies for cyber security professionals, it caters primarily for the ICT workforce.

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