learning and computers

Nurturing A New Generation of Cybersecurity Talents in celebration of World Youth Skills Day 2022

Editor’s brief: The youth today will be the pillars of society tomorrow. And learning is the key to empowering the youth to shoulder the heavy responsibilities of the world tomorrow, which even today, has radically changed. One of the key fields of knowledge that will have increasing importance, is cybersecurity. Leading cybersecurity company Check Point Software has shouldered this challenge by working with technical tertiary institutions in Singapore. Read more below.

SINGAPORECybersecurity skills and knowledge are critical today, as cybersecurity threats evolve and escalate with changing geopolitics, the financial fallouts from COVID-19, and expanding industries that became vulnerable through connectivity, such as industrial installations, critical infrastructures, process industries (oil and gas, chemical, and energy), and transportation.

Hiring trends for cybersecurity professionals within APAC’s SMBs and mid-market businesses are behind their global peers in terms of hiring intent, although the trend for larger enterprises remains the same. The global cybersecurity talent gap is 2.7 million, with approximately 1.42 million in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, according to a 2021 research by the international Information System Security Certification Consortium.

The increased rate of digital transformation fuelled by COVID-19 has seen businesses moving their operations online and adopting remote work. It has also sparked discussions on jobs of the future. According to the latest World Economic Forum’s ‘Future of Jobs’ report,50% of all employees will need re-skilling by 2025, with 40% of current workers’ core skills expected to change in the same period.

Young people are faced with rapid technological advances and unpredictable global disruptions, which place greater demands on their preparation for their employability and careers. The cybersecurity industry is therefore an attractive career field where numerous opportunities exist. “If you know cybersecurity, you have a guaranteed job for life,” said Robert Herjavec, a Shark on ABC’s Emmy Award-winning TV show “Shark Tank,” in a 2018 Cybercrime Magazine podcast interview and looking at the current cybersecurity skills gap, this statement could be true. This is especially so as cybersecurity needs people with diverse backgrounds and with different knowledge skillsets, from business, science, finance, project management to training, legal, finance and more. In addition, this diverse talent pool can be further nurtured through on-the-job training, professional development and networks, micro-certifications and more.

Check Point SecureAcademy and Singapore Polytechnic collaboration

To prepare students with the vital technology skills they need to secure the future, Check Point SecureAcademy was set up to provide worldwide cybersecurity education, through partnerships with tertiary institutions via check Point´s cyber security training umbrella called Check Point MIND. This provides educators and students with vital cybersecurity skills, learning resources and certifications through a “free-to-join, not revenue-driven” educational programme. Globally, a total of 45,000 students are using Check Point SecureAcademy free-learning content including Cyber Range and HackerPoint simulation courses today, by more than 120 higher learning institutions across 53 countries worldwide to increase students’ knowledge in cybersecurity. Another offering we have is the Check Point SmartAwareness solution, which is a security awareness training for enterprises that aims at preparing every employee with industry-leading cybersecurity awareness training so they’re ready when a real attack hits.

While cybersecurity is a highly technical field, non-technical skills such as problem-solving, strong analytical capabilities, creative thinking, and communication skills are essential too, especially for mid-management leadership roles, or risk management and compliance roles. The SecureAcademy imparts learners with technical knowledge and non-technical skills too.

To instill some of these skills, Singapore Polytechnic recently held the first “Home-19” cybersecurity “Escape Room” event in June 2022, for 57 students, including 10 female students, to learn about cyber attacks through a game. Students were divided into groups to compete against each other and see who could finish the “Home-19” cybersecurity escape room first. Players were given one hour to complete the game by solving different hacking puzzles using common practices and social engineering. “Home-19” is part of the online content provided to Check Point SecureAcademy Academic partners through the SecureAcademy online content course library.

Boris Choo, Faculty Member, Singapore Polytechnic, commented that the turnout for all the sessions was high, and the students enjoyed the sessions using Check Point’s educational tools to learn more about cybersecurity.

“I knew nothing about cyber security or hacking and was not planning to pursue it, but I had fun during the workshop and realised that I enjoyed probing around and searching for vulnerabilities, especially when working together as a team. I am considering DISM (Diploma in Infocomm Security Management) as my course in semester 2,” says Ashley Tan, one of the female students from Singapore Polytechnic who participated.

Another student, Rudie Andhika Bin Abu Bakar also shared, “The ‘Social Engineering’ part of the escape room was especially fun as we had to use a real-world messaging app, Facebook Messenger, to blackmail the receptionist for information in real-time, making the experience very immersive and realistic. This workshop has definitely piqued my interest in cybersecurity and I wish to continue studying this field and even pursuing a career in it in future.”

Check Point Software’s “Escape Room”

The “Escape Room” is created by Check Point Software’s learning and training organisation (MIND) to raise cybersecurity awareness in our day-to-day lives, and highlights when and where we are putting ourselves at risk of potential cyber-attacks without knowing it. Professors and instructors of cybersecurity courses can use this “Escape Room” module as a class activity, a cybersecurity general awareness session, or even a recruitment tool for cybersecurity programmes. It is intended as a “teaser” for the full-fledged and accredited Check Point Software SecureAcademy programmes, such as CCSA (Check Point Certified Security Administrator), one of the entry-level credentials to enter the cybersecurity sector.

The “Home-19” cybersecurity escape room version for Singapore Polytechnic works as a “Point@Click” quest game that players can play on their own or as a team.

“Cybersecurity is, and will continue to be, one of the most critical and desired careers in the world. Critical infrastructures, businesses, and individuals, all need safety and security in their daily and working lives. Today, whether we work, learn, shop, and play, there may be a cybersecurity threat lurking nearby. The opportunities for young people and professionals are tremendous in the cybersecurity arena, and we are privileged to play a leading role with the Check Point Software SecureAcademy™,” says Teong Eng Guan, Regional Director, Southeast Asia & Korea, Check Point Software. “In celebration of World Youth Skills Day, we are inviting all  Southeast Asian tertiary educational institutions to take the first step forward to collaborate with us, to build a new generation of cybersecurity talents and essential cybersecurity skills together.”