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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.

SINGAPORE — With the shifting geopolitical landscape, the financial fallout from COVID-19, and the growth of connected industries like manufacturing, transportation, and the oil, gas, chemical, and energy sectors, cybersecurity expertise and knowledge are more important than ever.

Compared to their global counterparts, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the APAC region are less likely to hire cybersecurity professionals. This trend, however, is consistent among large enterprises. According to a 2021 study by the international Information System Security Certification Consortium, the global shortage of cybersecurity professionals is 2.7 million, with approximately 1.42 million in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region.

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.

Although cybersecurity is a highly technical field, non-technical skills such as problem-solving, strong analytical capabilities, creative thinking, and communication skills are essential for mid-level leadership positions, or risk management and compliance positions. Students gain both technical and soft skills from the SecureAcademy.

Singapore Polytechnic hosted the first “Home-19” cybersecurity “Escape Room” event in June 2022, bringing together 57 students, 10 of whom were female, to learn about cyber attacks through the medium of a game. Students competed against one another in small groups to see who could complete the “Home-19” cybersecurity escape room in the shortest amount of time. The game gave players an hour to complete a series of hacking puzzles using techniques such as social engineering and common hacking practices. The Check Point SecureAcademy online content course library includes “Home-19” as part of the online content provided to Check Point SecureAcademy Academic partners.

Faculty member Boris Choo of Singapore Polytechnic remarked that all the sessions had a large number of attendees because students found using Check Point’s educational tools to learn about cybersecurity to be both engaging and beneficial.

“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”

Check Point Software’s learning and training organization (MIND) developed the “Escape Room” to increase people’s awareness of cybersecurity threats in their daily lives by showing them when and where they might be vulnerable to cyberattacks. This “Escape Room” module can be used as a classroom activity, a cybersecurity general awareness session, or even as a recruitment tool for cybersecurity programs by professors and instructors. It is meant to pique your interest in more in-depth and legitimate Check Point Software SecureAcademy courses, such as the CCSA (Check Point Certified Security Administrator) certification, which is a common first step for those seeking employment in the cybersecurity industry.

The Singapore Polytechnic “Home-19” Cybersecurity Escape Room is a “Point@Click” quest game that can be played solo or with a group.

“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.”