Surfing the world wide web is a breeze for most people but it can be dangerous if one is not careful. The elderly, in particular, tend to be more vulnerable to online scams.
This is why Ms Seh Xin Ru, who has a passion for cyber security and Internet safety, volunteers to teach the elderly on how to protect themselves online.
“The elderly are certainly smart enough to use information technology (IT) when taught. But they struggle to understand why security is important,” she says. “Media literacy among the older population is also lower.”
The 20-year-old is currently in her first year of pursuing a Bachelor of Computing in Information Security study at National University of Singapore on a Smart Nation scholarship and will be joining the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) after her studies.
Pursuing her dream
Ms Seh first gained experience in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) field through a polytechnic internship. She had spent six months engaging in programming and digital forensics work at KPMG Forensics. She particularly enjoyed the task of penetration testing, which tests a computer system to expose its vulnerabilities.
But when Ms Seh embarked on her Information Security & Forensics (ISF) diploma at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, she felt her experience was limited compared to her male counterparts.
“As a career in this sector is rather unconventional for women, my parents never expected me to be doing something IT-related,” explains Ms Seh. “Therefore, they did not let me explore IT at a younger age. I even had to convince my mum to let me pursue this field of study.”
Nevertheless, her passion and perseverance helped her to catch up and keep up with her classmates. She is also inspired by the technical skill and knowledge of other females working in the industry, such as her colleagues she met during her internship.
Ms Seh would advise other women not to be deterred from exploring a career in ICT. “Don’t worry about conventions and traditions. If the field interests you enough, you have found a good industry to carve a future in,” she says.
Protecting the public online
Ms Seh appreciates the opportunities that come with being the recipient of the scholarship. For one, it could pave the way for her to make a difference in a male-dominated sector.
She also shares that her own goals align with those of CSA.
“As Singapore continues to become a smart nation, I want to help people of various ages make their online presence more secure,” she explains. “I like the idea of contributing back to the people through my work, directly or indirectly.”
Ms Seh is thankful for how the scholarship has benefited her financially as well. Her father — an air-conditioner technician — is the sole breadwinner of her family. Her mother has also been diagnosed with Graves’ disease, resulting in mounting medical bills. Ms Seh and her sister have been dependant on financial assistance to tide them through their education in the past.
“Having the scholarship really helps alleviate the financial burden on my dad’s shoulders,” she says.