NUS jointly launches inaugural UN-Singapore Cyber Fellowship Programme

Over 20 senior cybersecurity leaders from 18 United Nations member states have completed the inaugural UN-Singapore Cyber Fellowship Programme jointly launched by NUS, in partnership with Cyber Security Agency of Singapore through its ASEAN-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence (ASCCE) and the United Nations Office for Disarmament (UNODA).

From 1 to 6 August 2022, the exclusive capacity-building programme brought together high-level national cybersecurity officials to acquire interdisciplinary expertise in overseeing cyber and digital security policy-making, strategies, and operations effectively. Beyond cultivating a greater understanding of the field, the fellowship also serves as a platform for building relations and networking amongst global cybersecurity officials.

The inaugural fellowship programme was jointly developed by Professor Yaacob Ibrahim, Professor in Practice at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and former Minister-in-charge-of Cybersecurity; and Mr Ang Leong Boon, Head of IT Security, NUS Information Technology.

It covered a spectrum of topics including cyber and digital security governance, cyber ecosystem development, and cybercrime, delivered through lectures, fireside chats, site visits and table-top exercises. NUS faculty members, industry professionals, and representatives from UN and Singapore government agencies contributed to content development.

“The inaugural UN-Singapore Cyber Fellowship programme takes a multidisciplinary approach to the cybersecurity challenge which is relevant to both policy makers and operational teams responsible for cybersecurity,” said Prof Yaacob Ibrahim.

Insightful engagements with distinguished speakers

During a session facilitated by Mr Matthias Yeo, CEO of CyberXCenter, Fellows engaged enthusiastically in discussions with veteran speakers such as Mr Lim Thian Chin, Director of Critical Information Infrastructure at the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore, who drew key learning points from the 2018 SingHealth hacking incident where the personal information of 1.5 million people was breached.

Industry leaders including Mr Andre Shori from Schneider Electric, Mr Tan Yeow Seng from Monetary Authority of Singapore and Mr Michael Karimian, Director of Digital Diplomacy at Microsoft shared their strategies and approaches to ensure cybersecurity within their industries and areas of operation during a panel discussion facilitated by Dr Beyza Unal of UNODA.

The fellowship also highlighted the importance of public-private partnership (PPP) in digital and cybersecurity, and how PPP can support a resilient digital domain. Included in this segment under Cyber Ecosystem Development was a panel discussion facilitated by Associate Professor Chang Ee-Chien from the NUS School of Computing and Lead Principal Investigator of the National Cybersecurity R&D Laboratory in Singapore. Panellists who weighed in on the topic were Mr Brian Koh, Director of NUS Enterprise; and Mr Emil Tan, co-founder of Division 0, a volunteer-driven Singapore cybersecurity community.

Senior industry leaders from Meta and TikTok were also among the guest speakers invited to share on misinformation and disinformation on social media platforms. Ms Alice Budisatrijo, Head of Meta’s Misinformation Policy team in Asia Pacific, and Mr Jamin Tan, Tik Tok’s Global Head of Policy Implementation and Asia Pacific Head of Regional Policy for Trust and Safety, spoke about their experiences navigating online falsehoods on these two ever-growing fast-paced platforms. Fellows also participated in a lively panel discussion with both experts facilitated by Dr Ozan Kuru from NUS Department of Communications and New Media.

In this new volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world, it is ever more important for leaders to be well-equipped with understanding of international law applicable in the cybersecurity field. The International Law segment, which presented an overview of international law in cyberspace, was helmed by Assistant Professor Tara Davenport, Senior Research Fellow at the NUS Centre for International Law (CIL); Ms Danielle Yeow, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow for Climate Change Law and Policy, also from CIL; and Ms Katherine Prizeman, Political Affairs Officer of UNODA. The speakers touched on the risks of international cyber conflicts, as well as the challenges of applying international law and implementing norms of responsible behaviour by states in cyberspace.

As cybercrime becomes more rampant, representatives from Interpol – Mr John Billow from the Cybercrime Directorate and Ms Lee Pei Ling from the Cyber Strategy & Capabilities Development – spoke about best practices in crime detection, and coordination with law enforcement bodies across borders on technical, legal and diplomatic matters.

Fellows also had the opportunity to engage with His Excellency Ambassador Burhan Gafoor, Permanent Representative of Singapore to the UN in New York, in a special discussion on cybersecurity diplomacy.

On the final day of the programme, Fellows took part in a cybersecurity table-top exercise to practise what they had learned over the previous five days. In a simulation of a cyberattack on a critical infrastructure facility, they were tasked to identify the unusual activities in the organisation, detect the malware so as to share intelligence with relevant stakeholders, and lastly, practice crisis communications as had been taught by Dr Suwichit Chaidaroon of NUS Department of Communications and New Media. This exercise was rigorously designed to ensure that Fellows were well-equipped with the appropriate skills to handle cybersecurity threats in the future.

The Fellowship provided an excellent opportunity for cybersecurity regulators, academia, professionals and Fellows to network and share experiences. “The programme was a testament to cybersecurity being a team sport, one that requires the close collaboration of global cybersecurity agencies as represented by their respective delegates, to defend against a common threat,” said Mr Ang, Head of IT Security, NUS Information Technology.

“We would like to thank our partners ASCCE and UNODA, speakers and learning journey hosts as well as distinguished Fellows for their contributions to the programme. It would not have been such a success without the help of all stakeholders,” he added.

Watch this video for key highlights of the inaugural fellowship programme.


By NUS School of Continuing and Lifelong Education