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S’pore start-up offers sponsored cybersecurity training programme, gives out cash prize to 'MVP'

Open to fresh grads and mid-career switchers.

Everyone and everything is going digital these days.

From bubble tea to luxury goods, it seems that nothing can’t be bought with a click of the mouse or touch of the screen. This also means everyone’s data from their phone number to their credit card details exist in the virtual sphere.

And as consumers slowly move to digital platforms, so do those with more malicious intentions.

What has resulted are numerous incidents of hacking and online scams.

Naturally, the cybersecurity industry is booming.

This growth is evident by the Singapore government’s recent announcement that S$1 billion would be pumped into building up the government's cyber and data security capabilities.

If you’re hoping to jump on the cybersecurity bandwagon, here’s how you can sharpen your skills for a career in cybersecurity.

Not enough cybersecurity talent to go around

Co-founder and Advisor of Red Alpha, Emil Tan

According to Emil Tan, Advisor to Red Alpha and co-founder of Singapore’s largest cybersecurity community group, Division Zero (Div0), cybersecurity talents here are lacking, despite the number of related diplomas and degrees.

Although there were an estimated 3,400 cybersecurity positions open in Singapore in 2020, the number of qualified individuals remain low, according to the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA).

This manpower crunch is worsened by the large number of companies across various industries that set up their headquarters in Singapore — such as big tech and engineering firms (AWS, Dyson, VMware), big pharma (MSD) and banks — all of which require cybersecurity talents to help run their operations.

This is notwithstanding the talent government agencies and ministries require.

So how can you break into the industry? And do you have what it takes for a career in cybersecurity?

Enter Red Alpha, a local cybersecurity talent development start-up.

Specialised training programme

Oftentimes, fresh cybersecurity hires only get the chance to develop these practical skills when at work, and end up experiencing an extremely steep learning curve.

Red Alpha thus aims to bridge this gap by providing trainees with real-world skills for the industry.

Red Alpha will be offering a 40-months Alpha Specialist Training Programme, which encompasses an intensive bootcamp, industry placement and advanced upskilling.

CEO of Red Alpha, Dean Gefen

The programme ensures that trainees develop “real-world skills in line with their aptitude and aspirations,” Red Alpha’s CEO Dean Gefen said.

While the programme might sound like a traineeship or something of the sort, it’s actually more of a full-time job.

1. Intensive bootcamp

During the four-month bootcamp, trainees will be exposed to rigorous hands-on training to prepare them for careers such as cybersecurity architects, solutions specialists, incidents response and threat intelligence specialists, and red team specialists.

The bootcamp will also incorporate talks, workshops and career sharing sessions with partner organisations to provide trainees with industry exposure.

Here are some of topics that may be covered during the programme:

If you’re worried about the vigour of the bootcamp and that you might not be able to keep up with the pace, fret not. The bootcamp has a trainer to trainee ratio of 1:6 so you can be assured that your questions during class won’t go unanswered.

These trainers are experienced practitioners from various fields of cybersecurity.

Instead of a one-size-fits-all curriculum, the teaching materials are also tailor-made for each trainee, according to their strengths and weaknesses assessed during the application process.

To recognise outstanding trainees, one trainee of each class will receive a cash prize of S$10,000 and be named the “MVP” of the month.

These are the criteria for one to be considered as a “MVP” of the class:

  • Attitude and grades in class

  • Helpfulness to fellow trainees

  • Participation in outside classroom activities e.g. extra classes and seminars with partner organisations, participating in optional open-source projects

Trainees will get a monthly study allowance of S$2,500 with CPF contributions through the entirety of the first stage of the bootcamp.

2. Industry placements and upskilling

In order to acquire real-world experience and training, trainees will spend the next three years working in full-time positions at one of Red Alpha’s partner organisations after the bootcamp.

Some of these organisations include Privasec, Speardome and Momentum-Z.

To keep trainees abreast with the current cyber landscape, every six months, trainees will get the opportunity to level up their skills via a one-week workshop back at Red Alpha.

The workshops will be based on each trainee’s performance and job scope, which Red Alpha will keep track of through constant conversation with the trainee and their supervisor.

Topics could include reverse engineering, vulnerability research, advanced penetration testing techniques, web intelligence and more.

During this period, the trainees will receive a monthly employment salary that commensurates with their competencies.

How to apply?

Think you’re cut out for the programme?

The programme is open to fresh graduates from university and polytechnics and those looking for a mid-career change.

While a cybersecurity background is not necessary, it is advisable for applicants to have at least a background in Information Technology. Following the application submission, shortlisted applicants will have to undergo a skills assessment stage and interview.

The training lessons will take place at the Red Alpha office located at UE Square, and the next programme is slated to start on May 31, 2021.


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