Centre for Strategic Infocomm Technologies
Feature | CSIT

Harnessing Advanced Digital Technologies to Keep Singapore Safe

Centre for Strategic Infocomm Technologies scholars Gin Ee and Zhiyuan share what it is like to be working at the forefront of digital technologies to defend Singapore against sophisticated digital threats.

Left: As a Data Scientist in CSIT, Leow Gin Ee performs data pre-processing and exploratory analysis, and identifies meaningful insights from data sets. She is a recipient of the CSIT Undergraduate Scholarship and holds a Bachelor of Science (Statistics) with Honours (Distinction) from NUS.

Right: CSIT Undergraduate Scholar Lai Zhiyuan is a Cybersecurity Researcher and plays an important role in strengthening CSIT's understanding of security products and technologies to protect Singapore from cyber threats. He holds a Master of Science (Sc.M), Computer Science from Brown University, and a Bachelor of Computing (Computer Science) with Honours (Highest Distinction) from NUS.

Singapore is one of the most connected nations in the world. This makes us vulnerable to cyber attacks and even our most critical systems are not spared from advanced and sophisticated attacks, posing immense challenges to our national security.

Centre for Strategic Infocomm Technologies (CSIT) plays a pivotal role in harnessing advanced digital innovations and solutions in the areas of cybersecurity, data analytics, software engineering, and cloud infrastructure and services to advance Singapore’s security needs.

As a technical agency in the Ministry of Defence, CSIT analyses huge datasets to discover potential threats, conducts deep technical investigations, develops new capabilities and provides threat intelligence to support national missions such as cyber defence, counter terrorism, and counter hostile information operations.

CSIT Scholars and digital natives Gin Ee and Zhiyuan are ready to tackle these national challenges. They are passionate about exploring technologies and shared with BrightSparks how their roles as a Data Scientist and a Cybersecurity Researcher make a difference to Singapore’s national security.

Gin Ee and Zhiyuan, let’s start off with your areas of interest.

Gin Ee: I have always been a “numbers person” and like to rely on numbers or probabilities to make decisions. There is so much potential in discovering the information that lies in data and how this information can help drive decisions! Therefore, data science became my obvious choice during my university days.

Zhiyuan: An incident that happened after my PSLE sparked my interest in cybersecurity. My MapleStory account was hacked and I lost all my hard-earned rare equipment! It affected me greatly and I wished that I could trace the hacker and recover all my items. From then on, I made up my mind to learn more about cybersecurity.

Leow Gin Ee

Leow Gin Ee

There are many digital technology companies out there. Why did you choose CSIT?

Gin Ee: I chanced upon the CSIT Undergraduate Scholarship on the NUS webpage and CSIT stood out to me as an agency that uses digital technology to support national security. I am intrigued by the application of data science in national security and that led to my decision to join CSIT.

Zhiyuan: I got to know about the CSIT-Nanyang Diploma Scholarship and successfully applied for it after entering polytechnic. This gave me a great internship experience with CSIT which spurred me to apply for the CSIT Undergraduate Scholarship to further my interest and pursue a career in cybersecurity.

The knowledge sharing and supportive culture, friendly colleagues, and unique opportunities to contribute to Singapore’s national security were the main reasons behind my decision to start my career in CSIT, an organisation renowned for its excellence in cybersecurity.

How did CSIT support and enhance your academic experience during your studies?

Gin Ee: In addition to the scholarship allowance and tuition fees, I was given an allowance to take up professional training courses that prepared me for my job after graduation.

Zhiyuan: Every CSIT scholar is assigned a mentor. I am very grateful for the guidance from my mentor who always checked on my progress in school and often offered his take on which classes were more useful and relevant.

CSIT also encouraged us to keep learning and push ourselves beyond academic curriculum by taking up professional course certifications in our free time. During my university holidays, I took up the Offensive-Security Certified Professional (OSCP) certification with the support of CSIT.

“Joining CSIT helped me to become a better version of myself.” Leow Gin Ee

Gin Ee, you are a Data Scientist. Tell us more about your role in CSIT.

Gin Ee: As a Data Scientist, we collaborate with stakeholders to gather and refine requirements and develop prototype solutions. Some examples of prototypes are Tableau visualisations. We generally perform data preprocessing and exploratory analysis on data sets to answer these requirements, and research industry developments for possible integration into analytics solutions.

Lai Zhiyuan

Lai Zhiyuan

How about you, Zhiyuan? What does your role as a Cybersecurity Researcher entail?

Zhiyuan: My role as a Cybersecurity Researcher includes conducting research to gain an in-depth understanding of security products and technologies, assessments on the efficacy of security products and validating their effectiveness in protecting various systems in the enterprise network. We also design, develop and implement innovative solutions to mitigate threats, investigate and analyse security incidents to refine existing software security strategies and solutions.

What do you hope to achieve in your career?

Gin Ee: I aim to reach a high level of technical expertise in data science, with focus on analytics and recommender systems, and to lead a team in engineering efforts to further advance our national security.

Zhiyuan: I would like to work in different tech domains within CSIT to better understand the different technical challenges faced in the IT ecosystem. Such exposure and experience will then equip me with the necessary skills and perspective to lead a team to provide effective technological solutions to CSIT and contribute to national security.

“The knowledge-sharing and supportive culture, friendly colleagues, and unique opportunities to contribute to Singapore’s national security were the main reasons behind my decision to start my career in CSIT, an organisation renowned for its excellence in cybersecurity.” Lai Zhiyuan

Tell us more about the work culture and the possibilities for those working at CSIT.

Gin Ee: Work-life balance and friendly colleagues. Even an introvert like me can quickly fit in well with the team!

Here, engineers receive equal opportunities, such as attachments to our business partners to understand how our tech domain (e.g., data science) can enable our partners to carry out their work better, longer term postings to explore various functions within CSIT and scholarships for postgraduate studies.

Zhiyuan: My colleagues are incredibly supportive and keen to share their knowledge. There is also a lot of trust from our bosses, and we take ownership of our work.

CSIT is people-focused and invests heavily in its people. There is a customised training plan for each tech officer to develop and grow in areas he or she is interested in. CSIT also provides secondment opportunities and offers full-time local or overseas postgraduate scholarships to upgrade officers’ skills.

If you are convincing someone to join CSIT, what would you say to him or her?

Gin Ee: Joining CSIT helped me to become a better version of myself. There are many like-minded colleagues to widen your network and debate about technical topics. You can look forward to many learning opportunities and sufficient time for research and development. Your work will be challenging but these are useful experiences for your overall development as an engineer.

Zhiyuan: If you want a unique career and an opportunity to protect Singapore’s cyberspace while working alongside some of the best digital engineers in Singapore, join CSIT!