Braving the changed world with new skills – hacker-style

DarkVishyna hacks 8 banks in Eastern Europe

By: Attley Ng, Vice President, APAC, HackerOne

Cybersecurity is a growing field, and an indispensable pillar in the road to digital transformation. Across the globe, organisations are adopting cloud systems to store and share their data, customer facing services are utilising Artificial Intelligence (AI) chat bots to streamline their processes, and the popularity of online communication platforms like Slack have transformed the way we work. With the rise of digitalisation, cybersecurity plays a pivotal role in ensuring that your information is safe.

Singapore’s employment landscape and potential

Singapore is a services-centric nation, with 74.4% of employment in services (Summary Table: Employment, 2019, stats.mom.gov.sg). Out of the services sector, information and communications takes 7% (Singstat.gov.sg). It is a small pie at the moment, however, with the government’s push for Singapore as a Smart Nation, there is a huge opportunity to ramp up the information technology and communications sector with skilled manpower.

With digitalisation comes the need for cybersecurity. Like anywhere else in the world, there is a global shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals. The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) estimates that Singapore has a shortfall of 3,400 cybersecurity professionals in 2020.  Singapore has always been proactive in preparing its workforce for emerging industries and advocates for the upgrading of skills and lifelong learning, as demonstrated through a national movement to enable all Singaporeans to learn. Through the “SkillsFuture government initiative, citizens can utilise credits allocated by the government to supplement courses taken, whether it is learning a new language, learning how to code, or taking a cybersecurity enrichment course.

More recently, Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) announced a new initiative targeted to help mid-career professionals. The Tech Skills Accelerator (TeSA) Mid-Career Advance, with an initial investment of S$70 million from the government, caters to Singapore citizens aged 40 and above to be upskilled or reskilled for a tech-centric career and switch professions altogether. Courses range from Agile Software Engineering to 5G Network Planning, and from Big Data Specialist to Cloud Technology and much more.  

Changing career paths – can it be done?

Some of the few worries most people have are the ease of transitioning into a whole new skill area and getting compensated fairly. However, the Singapore government has mapped out a series of training programs, providing employment, remuneration, mentor guidance, industry exposure and better employability. Participants of the program will have access to “instructor-led training, on-the-job training, mentorship and more.for up to 24 months and will be introduced to tech-centric jobs covering a variety of roles from business analyst to software developer with a commitment period of two years. 

The “hottest” industry in the tech space is cybersecurity, and while there are many roads to the proverbial “Rome”, there is an emerging path to cybersecurity skills and employment.  With the frequency of cyber attacks swelling to new highs, companies and government organizations around the world have realized that in order to protect themselves online, they need an army of highly skilled and creative individuals on their side — ethical hackers.  “White hat” or “ethical hackers help companies identify vulnerabilities in their software and services and digital assets and get paid for it. Some of the leading white hat hackers, including those from Asia Pacific, under our HackerOne platform have gone on to earn good remuneration, including 7-digit earnings, through dedicated participation in bug bounty programs. Although many ethical hackers are self-taught, there are also many who learn progressively through engaging structured online learning, such as what we offer for free in video lessons in web security and “Capture the Flag” interactive tests on our Hacker101.com platform. Per our 2020 Hacker Report, 84% of our hackers say they learned their craft through online resources and self-directed educational materials like Hacker101 and publicly disclosed reports; and  16% of our hackers have completed a formal class or certification on hacking.

Aspiring to be a hacker or not, there are of course other career opportunities within the cybersecurity sector. Just like other technology companies, there are a variety of roles including those in data science and analytics, information technology, software engineering, marketing and more. Going through the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) Mid-Career Advance program could be a good way to make that transition. 

Act now by reaching out to professionals and reading up on fields that interest you. There are many ways to a rewarding career. When you feel that your career track hits a roadblock, perhaps it is time to consider a whole new highway to your next lap. Perhaps, you may want to try being a white hat ethical hacker. You can work anywhere, gain professional knowledge, recognition and rewarding remuneration. 

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