NSF goes from defending 'bases' in Dota to 'cyber warrior' defending his country

Leanne Chua
The New Paper
4 March 2017

As a teenager, he spent four to six hours daily playing online multi-player games like Dota 2 and League of Legends.

Corporal Sim Tian Quan, 21, never thought he would become a cyber warrior, protecting Singapore from cyber attacks.

Cpl Sim is a full-time national serviceman who is an operator at the Cyber Security Operations Centre, which is part of the Cyber Defence Operations Hub (CDOH).

He is part of a team that monitors the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) networks and handles incidents like Government website defacements.

The Singapore Polytechnic alumnus graduated from its IT course and enlisted for national service in October 2015.

Cpl Sim is the only one from his cohort in this unit.

He said he enjoys the adrenaline rush of tackling unexpected problems.

Cpl Sim said: "Threats - like humans - also evolve, and that's what I saw after I came into this unit."

In a demonstration at the Cyber Defence Test and Evaluation Centre (CyTEC) at Stagmont Camp on Monday, a team of operators, analysts and evaluators tackled an online attack on a Government website.


Lieutenant-Colonel Mok Chuan Hao, 37, head of operations control at CDOH, said CyTEC makes training more realistic as it can simulate various scenarios.

A cyber defence training Memorandum of Understanding will be signed between the SAF's Headquarters Signals and Command System, Singapore Technologies Electronics (Info-Security) and Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) on March 14.

NYP offers a diploma in cyber security and forensics.

Second-year student in the course, Mr Li Kang Li, 18, is looking forward to his NS enlistment with the announcement of the new cyber vocation.

He said: "I can continue using the skills learnt in school during the two years there."

Mr David Maciejak is with security vendor Fortinet and is the head of its research arm, the FortiGuard Lion research and development team in Asia-Pacific.

Mr Maciejak told The New Paper that Singapore's ambition to become the world's first smart nation means smart technology sensors distributed around the city present many non-traditional entry points for new attacks.

Yesterday, NYP told TNP that it will be conducting customised cyber security courses for Mindef's Signals Institute.

These courses will enable signalmen to prevent, detect, respond to and recover from cyber attacks.

An NYP spokesman said: "It is the first cyber security programme for the Signal Institute, and we will train up to 300 cyber defenders annually."

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