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Meet the keyboard warrior who crushes cyberattacks

SINGAPORE — From airports to metros and hospitals, cyberattacks have hit at the heart of cities and Governments in recent times. As institutions, organisations and nations grapple with such threats in an increasingly sophisticated digital ecosystem, the best “firewall” to counter them would be engaging a threat hunter like Mr Tok Yee Ching.

Meet the keyboard warrior who crushes cyberattacks

Working professionals in the ICT sector: (Left) Ms Joleen Goh, 24, business development executive at Benjamin Barker and (right) Mr Tok Yee Ching, 28, threat hunter at Countercept, MWR InfoSecurity. Photo: Angela Teng/TODAY

SINGAPORE — From airports to metros and hospitals, cyberattacks have hit at the heart of cities and Governments in recent times. As institutions, organisations and nations grapple with such threats in an increasingly sophisticated digital ecosystem, the best “firewall” to counter them would be engaging a threat hunter like Mr Tok Yee Ching.

The 28-year-old is an advanced cybersecurity professional who uses critical thinking skills and creativity to look at patterns of normal behaviour in order to identify “network behaviour anomalies”. The role requires using network data and software to hunt for cyber threats. An expert also has to know how hackers work, so that he or she can help counter possible breaches.


Five years ago, Mr Tok began his journey as a penetration tester after graduating with an IT degree from SIM Global Education, taking home a monthly salary of S$2,200. His pay has since risen “significantly”, the specialist at Countercept, MWR InfoSecurity, a cybersecurity solutions company, said. He did not want to give more details, but added that he can count on an average annual pay increment of 10 to 20 per cent.

However, the road to becoming a specialist is certainly not an easy one.

Fuelled by a strong interest to learn more about his job, Mr Tok spends two hours every weeknight reading up on work-related topics. He also dedicates 36 hours a week to read up on the latest trends in the market, attends courses and researches new technologies. A few years ago, he decided to fork out S$45,000 of his own money to pursue a Masters degree in information security.

But Mr Tok is not done with learning, as he plans to pursue a doctorate in his field.

He believes that the role of threat hunters and cybersecurity specialists will be even more crucial in the future. “Now cybersecurity is increasingly important. As we embark on an increasingly digital world, more is needed to prevent the nefarious attacks, or we risk losing precious data or information,” he said.

However, he warned that individuals looking to join the profession will need to be able to adapt and learn quickly. He added: “Companies are selective with candidates. My opinion is that the industry seems to prefer people who can hit the ground running. They would prefer not to hire an individual who has to go through induction and learn the ropes from the beginning.”


Another avid learner, Ms Joleen Goh, 24, a business development executive at menswear label Benjamin Barker, is currently taking digital marketing classes online to learn new skills that will help in her job. The skills will also come in handy if she decides to pursue her dream of running her own business.


Individuals like Mr Tok and Ms Goh are some of the professionals who could benefit from the newly-launched infocommunications technology (ICT) skills framework launched by Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim on Friday (Nov 10).

With demand for ICT professionals set to hit over 42,000 over the next three years, the framework will serve as a guide for individuals by highlighting employment opportunities and mapping out career pathways in different areas such as security, infrastructure, data and professional services. It also identifies 80 existing and emerging technical skills and competencies, and provides information on more than 100 ICT job roles.

Mr Tok believes the framework can help him pick up new skills, or complement what he already knows.

“Previously when I was in school, I had to go to the library and borrow books to read up on my future career of being an IT professional, now I have a more strategised route I can plan for,” he said.

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