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​Hand in hand: how NTU can work with companies to tackle cyber risks​

Published on: 06-Nov-2017


Prof Shaun Wang (above), director of the Cyber Risk Management Project (CyRiM), shared information relating to cybersecurity best practices at a recent cybersecurity workshop in September. 

As cyber security is a growing concern for corporate organisations, companies and universities should share best practices to tackle online risks such as hacking and espionage, says Dr Shaun Wang, director of the Cyber Risk Management Project (CyRiM).   

Speaking at a workshop on cyber security for companies in late September, Dr Wang said CyRiM was well-positioned to help companies fight cyber threats, as it was a partnership between Nanyang Technological University, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the Cyber Security Agency, and five global insurers.  

CyRiM could help companies by quantifying the cyber risks they faced and provide benchmarks for the amount of money that companies could invest effectively in software and hardware, he said. 

The recent data breach at Equifax, a US credit bureau, which exposed the personal information of about 146 million Americans, underscored the importance of having strong cyber security measures. As governments and companies increase their investments in enacting such measures, global revenue for security technologies will rise from US$73.3 billion in 2016 to US$101.6 billion in 2020, according to IDC, a global market intelligence firm. 

At the workshop, Dale McAllister, an IT regional manager for Asia Pacific at Brazilian miner Vale International, voiced his concerns about cyber risks such as phishing and the inherent vulnerabilities of the internet of things. McAllister also noted the democratisation of IT as a major trend in which people are “developing workflows, solutions and integrations without the need for IT to be involved”, and asked how that could be managed. 

Dr Thambipillai Srikanthan, executive director of NTU’s Cyber Security Research Centre, said Vale International could look into what sensible and incremental steps it could take to address its IT vulnerabilities. He also advised McAllister to be aware of emerging technologies that could strengthen the company’s IT system.  

McAllister also asked how Vale International could engage NTU to harden its cyber security and whether NTU was considering “packaging up its capabilities” like a consultancy in working directly with companies. McAllister noted that even professional firms such as DXC Technology and IBM “work at packaging and they still don’t get it right”.

Dr Wang replied that NTU could work with Vale International to quantify its risks and that the university was using its research funding by enabling its researchers to come up with cyber security solutions for the private sector. 

On the part of corporate organisations, for every dollar that they invest in their cyber security, they could parlay that into a value of three dollars by working with NTU, which has research funding from the Singapore government and the global insurance industry, said Dr Srikanthan.

“Singapore is very proactive about engaging industry partners with academia. They want Singapore-based companies to grow and that’s certainly a mandate for which they have to even give you money into that kind of collaborations,” he said. 

Depending on the needs of individual companies, NTU could “put together the right team for you” from its Computer Science and Engineering School, the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, and the Nanyang Business School, said Dr Srikanthan.

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