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Cyber Youth Singapore Driving Cyber Resilience

Cyber Youth Singapore (CYS), a non-profit, youth-led programme focused on developing Singapore’s digital future, partnering with a cybersecurity firm, launched the first Cyber Youth Singapore Summit 2021. Themed “Our Future: Youth in Technology”, the summit engaged more than 500 youths from secondary schools to universities.

 

The summit, organised and managed wholly by youths was conceptualised to bring Singapore’s youth tech community together to ignite and nurture their interest in cybersecurity and the wider tech domains. The youth organisers behind the summit sought to deepen their peers’ understanding and exposure to the industry to enable their generation to play a bigger role in the nation’s cyber defence.

 

By partnering with a cybersecurity firm, the summit provided real-world expertise and industry insights to the participants. This allowed aspiring cyber talents to acquire practical tips and useful information that can give them a head start when pursuing a career in cybersecurity.

 

Held in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the summit created a platform that served as a beacon of hope and unity across all youths in Singapore in this time of crisis, rallying all young people together to focus on and solidify Singapore’s digital future.

CYS will remain committed to building a united youth in the tech community, transforming the way the youths explore their interests in cybersecurity and the wider tech domains.

President and CEO of CYS

The summit’s capstone activity was a Virtual Capture-the-Flag Competition with a coveted prize of S$5,000. This cybersecurity competition required participants to apply their skillsets to break into simulated machines. Three different competition tracks were created for different age groups with varying skill levels. Virtual hands-on training modules were provided for youths in the secondary school category.

 

The summit featured an activity where the cybersecurity firm shared their deep cybersecurity research efforts, and how they develop bespoke solutions and proprietary technologies to tackle advanced cyber threats. The company’s employee also talked about the innovation he helped come up with. He also described what his teammates do.

 

To encourage unity, bonding and friendship among youths, the summit also featured a “Gaming Day” where participants competed in various gaming sessions. The final competitions for the top teams and the awarding of prizes to the winning teams were streamed live. The summit concluded with the Cyber Youth Day where a suite of career talks, webinars, panel discussions, and project showcases by industry and academic partners, were conducted.

 

Organisations supporting the CYSummit were also invited to showcase their capabilities through the Virtual Booth Showcase, allowing participants to explore the booths and gain industry knowledge. The participants also had the opportunity to interact with the tech industry professionals through the live chat function.

 

As reported by OpenGov Asia, As the digital world becomes a larger part of our lives, cyber threats increase in both impact and frequency. The global trend in the cyber landscape is for attacks to be less profit-motivated.

 

To address this, a Singaporean telecommunications provider is launching a new suite of cybersecurity solutions developed in collaboration with an India-based global IT solutions provider. Cybersecurity consulting, incident response, data protection, vulnerability testing, managed firewall, and managed endpoint are all part of the new suite of solutions

 

The offering is primarily aimed at Singapore’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with the telco claiming that the new suite comes at a time when nearly half of all reported crimes in Singapore are cybercrime-related. Indeed, the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) last month flagged an increase in cyber threats, such as ransomware and online scams, during 2020.

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Cyber Youth Singapore Launches CYSummit’21, The Largest, First Of Its Kind Youth Tech Summit In Singapore

  • Cyber Youth Singapore, the nation’s youth-driven cyber community, engaged more than 500 youths in its first virtual conference together with public and private sector partners
  • Ensign InfoSecurity, as the Patron of the Youth sponsor, also shared industry insights and domain knowledge to deepen the participants’ understanding of the sector

SINGAPORE – Media OutReach – 22 July 2021 – Cyber Youth Singapore (CYS), a non-profit, youth led programme focused on developing Singapore’s digital future, partnered with Ensign InfoSecurity (Ensign), Asia’s  largest, pure-play cybersecurity firm to launch the first Cyber Youth Singapore Summit 2021 (CYSummit’21) .

Themed “Our Future: Youth in Technology” , CYSummit engaged more than 500 youths from secondary schools to universities from 21st to 25th June 2021. CYSummit’21, organised and managed wholly by youths was conceptualised to bring Singapore’s youth tech community together to ignite and nurture their interest in cybersecurity and the wider tech domains. The youth organisers behind the summit sought to deepen their peers’ understanding and exposure to the industry to enable their generation to play a bigger role in our nation’s cyber defence.

 

CYS also brought on board Ensign as its Patron of the Youth to provide real-world expertise and industry insights to the participants. This allowed aspiring cyber talents to acquire practical tips and useful information that can give them a head-start when pursuing a career in cybersecurity. 

 

Held in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the summit created a platform that served as a beacon of hope and unity across all youths in Singapore in this time of crisis, rallying all young people together to focus on and solidify Singapore’s digital future.

 

The summit’s capstone activity was a Virtual Capture-the-Flag Competition with a coveted prize of S$5,000. Powered by Pentester Academy, this cybersecurity competition required participants to apply their skillsets to break into simulated machines. Three different competition tracks were created for different age groups with varying skill levels. Virtual hands-on training modules were provided for youths in the secondary school category.

Here are the other highlights for the summit this year:
  • Ensign Day: The summit featured an ‘Ensign Day’ where Ensign shared their deep cybersecurity research efforts, and how they develop bespoke solutions and proprietary technologies to tackle advanced cyber threats. An Ensign employee also talked about the innovation he helped come up with. He also described what his teammates do. The youths were also given a preview of Ensign’s job opportunities.
  • Esports: To encourage unity, bonding and friendship among our youths, the summit also featured a “Gaming Day” where participants competed in various gaming sessions (Friendly Minecraft Session, Valorant & League of Legends Competitions). The final competitions for the top teams, and the awarding of prizes to the winning teams of Valorant and League of Legends, were streamed live.
  • Cyber Youth Day: The summit concluded with the Cyber Youth Day where a suite of career talks, webinars, panel discussions, and project showcases by industry and academic partners, were conducted. The Cyber Youth Day was graced by Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for the Ministry of Information and Communications. The President of the Cyber Youth Collective, Mr Ben Chua also delivered the State of the Collective address. The address outlined CYS’ journey over the past two years, changes to our organisation, as well as our future plans.
  • Booth Showcase by Partners and Sponsors: Organisations supporting the CYSummit were also invited to showcase their capabilities through the Virtual Booth Showcase, allowing participants to explore the booths, and gain industry knowledge. The participants also had the opportunity to interact with the tech industry professionals through the live chat function.

“It’s amazing how far we have come since our humble beginnings back in 2019, to where we are today as a community. We will remain committed to building a united youth in the tech community, transforming the way our youths explore their interests in cybersecurity and the wider tech domains,” said Mr Ben Chua, President and CEO of CYS.

 

The summit was graced by the Senior Minister of State for the Ministry of Communications and Information, Dr Janil Puthucheary. “Cybersecurity is a key enabler of Singapore’s transformation into a Smart Nation and digital economy. The inaugural CYSummit exemplifies the Government’s continual efforts in working with the community to build up our cyber talent pipeline and prepare more of our youths for the jobs in this exciting arena. Over the years, CSA has been working closely with partners like CYS under the SG Cyber Youth initiative, to provide opportunities for youths to explore cybersecurity as a career and expose them to relevant technical knowledge and soft skills. We welcome more industry partners such as employers, academia, associations and communities to come forward to play a role in nurturing a cybersecurity culture and shaping the cyber landscape.” Dr Janil said.

 

The support from various sector partners was instrumental in making this youth summit a success. Ensign, through its engagement at CYSummit’21, helped spark greater awareness and interest for youths to explore cybersecurity, and provided industry insights to those looking to join the cybersecurity workforce in the future. Ensign has been a key supporter of CYS and its programmes since its early days. In March 2021, CYS and Ensign signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will deliver engagement, mentorship, and skills-training opportunities to enhance youth’s employability in the burgeoning cybersecurity sector. It will also look at placing 15 youths in Ensign’s internship programme. Ensign’s firm advocacy for youth development in cybersecurity is part of its greater commitment to develop a robust, vibrant cyber talent pool in Singapore.

 

“The high level of enthusiasm and participation at CYSummit’21 is a clear signal that the industry is moving in the right direction, in terms of getting youths excited about cybersecurity, and youth engagement will remain vital in nurturing the next generation of cyber talents. Ensign will continue to work with industry partners such as CYS to support youths with the passion and aptitude for cybersecurity to pursue a rewarding, meaningful career in this growing sector,” said Ms Tammie Tham, Chief Executive Officer of Ensign InfoSecurity.

 

The summit truly embodies unity across the community, as well as private and public sectors, to ensure the development of Singapore’s future – our youths. CYS serves as a hub and people connector, bringing together private partners such as Ensign, PCS Security, the Association of Information Security Professionals, and Pentester Academy. This is in addition to partners from the public sector, namely the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore and the Defence Science & Technology Agency. Strong support is also observed from Singapore’s Institutes of Learning, that have strongly encouraged participation of their students. These institutes include Singapore Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, the Institute of Technical Education, National University of Singapore, and Singapore University of Technology and Design.

 

The summit was organised by CYS with Ensign as the Patron of the Youth.

 

Please refer to Appendix A for more information about the CYSummit 2021.

Appendix A

Event Factsheet

This June, in the midst of the biggest crisis of our generation, our Singaporean youths are rallying in common interest, towards a common goal – securing Singapore’s digital future.

 

This inaugural summit is not like any other technology event. It is wholly organised and managed by youths, bringing together for the first time, multiple partners across the people, private and public sectors. An event at this scale, with this construct, is the first of its kind in ASEAN. The summit aims to bring youths in Singapore together, to help them find their passion and interest in technology.

 

Through the summit, CYS will establish a united youth establishment, capable of making a difference towards Singapore’s digital economy and well-being of its citizens through the power of technology.

List of Summit Sponsors & Partners

Category
Organisation
Patron of the Youth
Ensign InfoSecurity
Diamond
Cyber Security Agency of Singapore
PCS Security
Silver
Association of Information Security Professionals
Defence Science & Technology Agency
Powered By
Pentester Academy
Institutional Partners
Institute of Technical Education
Ngee Ann Polytechnic
Republic Polytechnic
Temasek Polytechnic
Singapore Polytechnic
National University of Singapore
Singapore University of Technology and Design

Summit Schedule

Track Legend:
Abbreviation
Definition
SS
Secondary School
JPI

Junior College, Polytechnic, ITE, NSFs

UNI

University

Social Media Pages and Contact Details

Cyber Youth Singapore
Link
Official Website
Official Email
Official Hashtag
#cyberyouthsg
Ensign InfoSecurity
Link

Recording of Guest of Honor's Address

Recording of Patron of the Youth's Address

Recording of State of the Collective Address

About Cyber Youth Singapore

Cyber Youth Singapore is a youth-led non-profit organisation made up of approximately 100 youth volunteers in its management committee and with 1,300 youth members on its online communication platform, Discord. The idea for an open platform and community for youths to explore their cybersecurity interest was conceptualised when a group of 10 youths came together to set the foundations of this community.

 

The advancement of technology in recent years has seen Singapore coming up with government-led programmes to generate interests amongst youth to enter the tech scene. Interests peaked but it led to a problem – there were no permanent avenues for interested youths to further develop and grow their interests in tech. Hence, Cyber Youth Singapore was founded to be the permanent avenue for youths to hone and develop their interests in technology.

 

This secular and apolitical community serves only to provide youths with a safe environment to responsibly explore their interest in cybersecurity while giving back to society through public education. At the end of their fruitful journey in Cyber Youth Singapore, youths would not only have been developed and nurtured in their technical skills but also in terms of soft skills. A holistic and all-rounded experiential journey, covering self and leadership discovery is how Cyber Youth Singapore is envisioned to be. The value this would bring to youths in Singapore fuelled the creation of this community.

 

Over the past two years since its inception, CYS has impacted and reached more than 3,000 youths across Singapore. Through monthly meetups, workshops, seminars and programmes aimed at youth empowerment, CYS has been able to value add the development of the local youth in tech community. More information about CYS can be found on our website at www.cyberyouth.sg .

About Ensign InfoSecurity

Ensign InfoSecurity is the largest, pure-play end-to-end cybersecurity service provider in Asia. Headquartered in Singapore, Ensign offers bespoke solutions and services to address their clients’ cybersecurity needs. Their core competencies are in the provision of cybersecurity advisory and assurance services, architecture design and systems integration services, and managed security services for advanced threat detection, threat hunting, and incident response. Underpinning these competencies is in-house research and development in cybersecurity. Ensign has two decades of proven track record as a trusted and relevant service provider, serving clients from the public and private sectors in the Asia Pacific region.

 

For more information, visit  www.ensigninfosecurity.com or email  marketing@ensigninfosecurity.com.

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Discord but not discordant: From cyber-awareness collective to online community

Say the phrase “discord”, and it doesn’t really ring a bell with many.

 

But for those who spend a lot of time online, especially gamers, it’s a familiar presence in their lives.

 

While most who know about the free app would have used it to communicate with their guildmates and friends as they raid the latest boss in an MMORPG like World of Warcraft or an open-world action RPG like Genshin Impact, or yell at their teammates during a MOBA like League of Legends or Dota 2, there is a group of youths who is using it for another reason closer to its original purpose – to create a community of like-minded people.

 

“We decided on Discord because that’s where all of us, along with the people we want to engage, are on,” explains Amos Ng, 20.

 

Amos, who is graduating from Singapore Polytechnic’s Infocomm & Security Management course, leads the community engagement division at Cyber Youth Singapore. The collective reaches out to youths interested in keeping Singapore safe by engaging them on cyber-security issues.

Cyber Awareness Collective Shot-01
Participants in a four-day cybersecurity camp held in 2019 by CYS. Image source: Cyber Youth Singapore

Over the past few years, especially since more services have gone online due to Covid, there have been cyber attacks on many aspects of our lives, especially in the education and security sectors. If you think that it doesn’t affect you, think about this: About a quarter of us fall prey to a phishing or hacking attack at least once a year.

 

Cyber attacks have always been around; just like how we physically defend our country, we need to be digitally armed too. “It’s the same with any other field,” says Khairul Nizam, 20, who is serving his National Service, “you need to have procedures in place to safeguard everyone.”

 

Joining Amos and Khairul in the community division of Cyber Youth Singapore are Ian Chien, 20, and Hansen Lim, 20, who are both graduating from the Cybersecurity & Digital Forensics course in Nanyang Polytechnic.

 

“No matter how good your defences are, the single point of failure is always the human,” says Amos. “From our point of view, the human will always be the weakling, especially when security processes aren’t set up well.”

 

Cyber Youth Collective was set up in Sept 2019, and has about 1,200 members and six moderators, with Amos being one of the head administrators.

More than just cyber-security issues

Cyber Awareness Collective Shot-02
On the left is a list of channels, which operate like chatrooms on various topics. This is the announcement channel for moderators to send messages and announcements for the rest of the cyber community. Image source: Cyber Youth Singapore

The server is more like a virtual clubhouse where members can choose to seek advice or to catch up with their friends. They are also notified about upcoming events in the announcements channel.

 

“There are a lot of meme community servers on Discord, but we are different. We have channels that members can get advice on about everything cyber and non-cyber,” Amos says.

 

Other than just tech topics, there are text channels for members to talk about homework or to arrange for study meets at different polytechnics, game chats and voice channels for movie nights. Members can meet others who share their interests by joining a channel designated for the topic.

Cyber Awareness Collective Shot
Under the special interest groups, members can click on the emojis that correspond to the ones in the menu. They will be given a role (coloured tag) which gives them access to a channel of their interest. Image source: Cyber Youth Singapore

On joining the server, new members can also share which learning institute they are attending, and it would show up in their profiles. “We have people from secondary schools, IHLs (institutes of higher learning), with some serving NS and others at university,” says Amos.

 

It’s easy to tell who’s in the server with a quick glance at the role selection since the school logos are customised emojis specific to the server.

 

And to prevent spam, moderators have created specific roles that posters can tag for message updates about games, movies and virtual karaoke sessions, or just general events.

Cyber Awareness Collective Shot-03
Cyber Awareness Collective Shot-04
Customised school logos and roles that members can click on so as to identify themselves and to receive messages customised for their interest groups. Image source: Cyber Youth Singapore

User can sign up on topics they are interested in and they will get messages and push notifications to inform them of the latest happenings.

 

The community is active and vibrant, where meetups, talks and even cyber workshops are held on a regular basis, Amos added.

 

These are often done in collaboration with industry professionals, who would share their thoughts for those who are interested in having a career in cybersecurity.

Cyber Awareness Collective Panel Talks
A panel talk on Zoom, where industry experts share knowledge with youths on how to kickstart their career in cybersecurity. Image source: Cyber Youth Singapore

“Sometimes, there are community-initiated meetups within our server. For example, someone would come to us and say they would want to hold a Python beginner workshop, and we help them make it happen,” Amos adds.

 

The collective also emphasises peer learning, and members are encouraged to build and bond over each other’s skill sets.

“We want to group youths together, so they can connect and pick up skills from each other.”

 

“It can be quite frustrating, learning on your own,” Amos says, “sometimes, searching for solutions online is good enough, but a community is another avenue of help. It’s a good balance between Googling for information and working it out with friends.”

Community bonds

Cyber Awareness Collective Buffet
Before Covid, participants would gather for a day of talks and activities by CYS. Image source: Facebook / Cyber Youth Singapore

For Ian, the community is an opportunity to help youths interested in cybersecurity but who have little exposure to the industry.

 

He tells The Pride: “As a kid, I was lucky. My dad had a background in tech and I was fascinated by how he used it to protect our loved ones. Thanks to him, I was exposed to cybersecurity events like Black Hat Asia and Infosec In The City.”

 

But not everyone learning the ropes of cybersecurity knows such events, he admits. “Not everyone has someone like my dad in their life, so I hope this community acts like a bridge between the students and professionals.”

 

Similarly, Hansen shares about the steep learning curve he experienced when he was studying about cybersecurity. “My polytechnic had an interest club for cybersecurity, but the entry-level skill sets were quite demanding. And when I was there, we attended competitions but there were no chances for enrichment.”

 

These experiences drove them to be part of Cyber Youth Singapore, and the Discord server followed shortly after.

Cyber Awareness Collective Team
The team at the CYS annual cybersecurity camp in 2019. Image source: Cyber Youth Singapore

Cyber Youth Singapore was set up by president Ben Chua, 20. He approached cybersecurity community Div0, a network of professionals working in cybersecurity, which chipped in resources to build it.

 

That was when Ben recruited Amos, Hansen, Khairul and Ian. The group met up for the first time at ICE71, a hub dedicated to startups in the tech industry. “I’m pretty sure all of us in the room were under 21 then, but it was a common dream we had,” says Amos.

 

“We’re not paid for this (setting up CYS), but we have time and energy now. So why not?”

 

The team’s efforts quickly bore fruit. “We soon had about 200 people attending our meetups every week,” Ian recalls. “Then Covid came and really turned everything upside down.”

Surviving Covid-19

Even though Covid-19 meant more awareness over the use of technology, the tech collective also experienced setbacks. Says Ian: “We had to postpone our biggest event, CYS Summit, last year.”

 

The annual meeting for community members from the collective to exchange feedback is one of the bigger events in its lineup. Others include its annual cybersecurity camp and EAE con, an event to help students prepare a portfolio for Early Admissions Exercise into polytechnic cyber courses. Before Covid-19, all these were held physically.

Cyber Awareness Collective Camp
Ben opening the cybersecurity camp in 2019. Image source: Cyber Youth Singapore

Even after the circuit breaker, stringent limitations made organising in-person events nigh impossible. That was when the Discord server came in handy. “We avoided Zoom or Webex, because they’re used for lectures and lessons,” says Amos. “It feels too formal, so we moved most of our events to Discord.”

 

Now that the situation is looking up, Ian tells The Pride that the collective is looking to host its events semi-physically.

 

He says: “Now when we plan events, we have more logistics to take into account like Covid testing and safe management measures. We’re monitoring the situation, and maybe we’ll move to hybrid meetups and events in the future.”

Decoding the world of tech

When it comes to anything tech or cyber related, most would imagine sleek metal machines, or glaring numbers on screens. As a result of these stereotypes, many of us cannot identify with technology.

 

That itself is a problem, says Ian. “It’s not as cold and out of touch with humanity as we think. Tech goes hand in hand with our lifestyle. So we set our minds to redefine what ‘cyber’ means. After all, it’s about how we present the concept of technology to people.”

 

Re-packaging concepts into bite-sized information for the general public is something the collective has been doing to get everyone wiser about technology.

 

“We do hold workshops for complete beginners, for example,” Ian explains, “all you need is just a laptop and an Internet connection, and they’re free.”

 

And for those outside the cybersecurity community, the collective has an Instagram dedicated to debunking myths related to being secure online, like explaining antivirus softwares, VPNs and firewalls.

Gamification is also an effective way to get youths interested in technology.

 

“Many people get curious about what ‘Capture The Flag’ competitions are in the cyber world,” says Ian. “For example, they usually wonder if there’s an actual flag to capture, and that usually intrigues them to give it a shot.”

 

Capture-The-Flag competitions in cybersecurity are just like its physical counterpart: One team attacks their opponent’s defences with the aim to capture their base, while protecting their own from the opponent’s incursions.

Cyber Awareness Collective Capture Flag
Participants in a capture-the-flag activity. Image source: Facebook / Cyber Youth Singapore

“We are also looking into using multimedia and infocomm tech, like virtual reality and games,” he adds.

 

And of course, tech can come in handy for vulnerable communities, too.

 

“In one of our summits, we explored ways to help vulnerable groups,” Khairul shares. “We all agreed tech was a big tool that we can utilise to aid them, so we were looking into that.”

Upcoming plans

Last year’s CYSummit’20, Singapore’s first cybersecurity summit for youths, had to be postponed and will happen from 21 to 24 June.

 

Even though the four youths now have events dotted all over their calendars, the satisfaction they get from a successful event outweighs the hard work they put in.

 

“Individually, there is only so much we can do to organise an event,” Ian adds, “so we plan it and do it together.”

 

“When you have a lot of people who share your dream contributing to your project, everyone’s experience always helps.”

 

Check out the CYS Discord server at http://go.cyberyouth.sg/discord