Singapore institution to nurture homegrown solutions to cyberattacks

Cyberattacks have become a persistent threat to business. No longer just looming over multinational corporations with deep pockets, organizations of all sizes are at risk, everywhere.

In Southeast Asia, no territory is as vulnerable as Singapore. The Deloitte Cyber Smart Index 2020 ranked the tiny island nation as having the highest levels of cyber risk exposure across the region. 

With Singapore serving as a connecting hub for Western and Eastern trade, the country has a sound digital regulatory environment and has enforced tight cybersecurity legislation under the Singapore Cybersecurity Act for more than two years. 

But, especially given the influx phishing and malware amid COVID-19, it’s apparent that cybersecurity training and awareness is more integral than ever, not only on the island state but around the region as well. With this in mind, a consortium of institutions have gotten together and formed a new cybersecurity platform. The group is geared towards developing the regional cybersecurity ecosystem, training cybersecurity talent, and building overall awareness on the central role of cyber protection for organizations — particularly those in the financial services

The platform is dubbed the @-Wise Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence, under the watch of the Singapore FinTech Association, AMTD Foundation, AMTD Digital, Canada’s University of Waterloo, as well as the workforce and mobility platform iQ4.

These five entities will establish the center’s headquarters in Singapore and have recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to that effect. Alongside the five core partners, Ernst & Young Advisory has been appointed as the knowledge adviser while the Hong Kong state-owned fintech hub Cyberport, AMTD Foundation, and Infinity Power are listed as supporting organizations, lending knowledge, skills training, and resources aid.

The @-Wise Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence plans to foster a startup ecosystem focusing on cyber-attack protection, as well as to nurture connections across industries, given that adequate cybersecurity is becoming a pressing concern in many fields.

The center will initiate training programs with certifications to ensure prospective students are qualified with the requisite cybersecurity skills. Research and development will also be a strong focus, with the @-Wise Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence working as a nexus point to connect various related parties to collaborate together at the local, regional, and global levels.

In a joint statement, the main stakeholders said they hope to bring visibility to Singapore as an international hub for cybersecurity readiness, adding a crucial security component to the city-state’s burgeoning smart city goals.

A parallel objective for the @-Wise Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence is to organize an annual cybersecurity summit featuring cyber-risk mitigation products and strategies alongside seminars and round table discussions with industry leaders. The plan is for Singapore to host the first edition, before expanding into other locations throughout Southeast Asia — with talk of possibly hosting in North America, growing the profile of the local cybersecurity ecosystem along the way.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore’s chief fintech officer, Sopnendu Mohanty, noted that the demand for cybersecurity skills and trained personnel are “at an unprecedented level globally”, driven in part by the increased focus on digitization as well as the ever more sophisticated cyberattacks landscape.

“The @-Wise Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence will accelerate the development of a next-generation cybersecurity workforce, and is a laudable effort and a step in the right direction to deepen capabilities,” commented Mohanty.

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