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Safeguarding data: Meet the ‘digital detective’ keeping cyber attackers at bay
Ms Ong says that her job as a system engineer at CSA's National Cyber Incident Response Centre is akin to being a digital detective as she analyses computer systems and solve digital puzzles. PHOTO: SPH MEDIA

From protecting sensitive information to identifying malware, this Smart Nation scholarship recipient helps organisations stay vigilant against potential threats online

Upon receiving information of a cyber attack on a Singapore firm, Ms Ong Jing Yin and her colleagues swung into action. Their work involved identifying and isolating the compromised machines and working with the firm on measures to prevent potential re-entry into the company’s network.

The intervention, which stopped the attackers from further infecting other assets and exfiltrating sensitive data, is part of Ms Ong’s day-to-day work. The 26-year-old is a malware analyst for the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore’s (CSA) National Cyber Incident Response Centre.

“It’s like being a digital detective. Just as detectives solve mysteries, I investigate computer systems and solve digital puzzles,” she says.

More on this topic: Building an inclusive and secure digital future

Her work goes beyond helping organisations to repel cyber attacks.

“The ability to communicate complex technical concepts in a clear and accessible manner is essential, especially when explaining the concerns arising from the cyber attack to key stakeholders of the affected company during an incident response. We must be able to convey the situation clearly that we can work together effectively to mitigate the threat.”

Ms Ong became passionate about cybersecurity after taking part in a cyber tournament while studying computer science at the National University of Singapore. During the event, a team compromised her team’s computers and used them to infect the entire hall. While the incident did not cause any “real” harm outside of the tournament, it opened her eyes to the impact cyber attacks can have in the real world.

“Just as detectives solve mysteries, I investigate computer systems and solve digital puzzles.”

Ms Ong Jing Yin, recipient of the Smart Nation Scholarship

“This incident sparked my interest in cybersecurity and helped to shape my decision to pursue a career in this field.

“I was set on becoming a software engineer, but that realisation changed my focus and influenced my decision to pursue a Smart Nation Scholarship,” she says.

The scholarship, jointly offered by CSA, the Government Technology Agency and Infocomm Media Development Authority, gives people a chance to carve out a career in technology and contribute to the public good. 

Recipients can specialise in cybersecurity, application design, development and deployment, sensors and the Internet of Things, data science and artificial intelligence, geospatial data, infocomm technology infrastructure, or technology policy and governance. 

“When I came across the Smart Nation Scholarship, CSA instantly stood out to me because of its focus on safeguarding our cyberspace. The need for cybersecurity as an integral part of our digitalisation efforts resonated with me and I saw this scholarship as an opportunity to be part of something meaningful and impactful,” Ms Ong says.

This article is brought to you by Smart Nation.

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