At the age of 18, a young cybersecurity pioneer named Ben Chua established Cyber Youth Singapore in 2019 and became its CEO with the dream of creating a safer Singapore.
Cyber Youth Singapore serves to empower and educate younger generations as well as exchange knowledge through cybersecurity events and competitions.
He said: “Cybersecurity is so important that it should be as simple as teaching a child how to cross the road safely. It’s as essential as that; to use that phone they have in their hands safely.”
The non-profit is a collective of youths who will be the IT professionals of the future, striving to advance the country’s cyber resilience and pave a future for youths looking to break into the industry.
Mr Chua shared his dream with over 370 experts and peers in the technology industry during W.Media’s first Power Talk: “The big dream is to have at least one cyber defender in every household to ensure that their family is safe.”
What inspired the dream for a safer Singapore?
The need for Cyber Youth Singapore to educate Singaporeans on cybersecurity came after seeing technology and smart devices become so prevalent in most households.
Mr Chua said: “Almost every household in Singapore has internet connectivity. It’s a digital door into every household in Singapore and that’s actually a cause for concern for us because there’s no definite way we can defend against that perfectly.”
This need for an education in cybersecurity is increasing during the pandemic, as the current situation is forcing more businesses and households to digitise. This has enabled threat actors to take advantage of vulnerabilities like those in Virtual Private Networks and video-conferencing tools like Zoom.
Mr Chua added: “This virtual backdoor for hackers will be almost everywhere. The only way we can do security well is to educate every single citizen of the nation where the whole nation becomes digitally resilient together.”
How did you get involved in cybersecurity?
The story of how Ben came to be a young leader in cybersecurity is one of proactivity and aspiration.
When he first pursued cybersecurity, Ben did not have much background in technology, but he was inspired by an outreach talk at his secondary school.
Mr Chua said: “I made the right decision and I never looked back since.”
How can younger generations break into the cybersecurity industry?
The cybersecurity industry is growing rapidly and there is likely to be no shortage of jobs.
Mr Chua reassured his peers with an inspiring message that breaking into the industry isn’t too difficult as long as you never give up despite any challenges and rejections.
He added: “We faced many rejections and people didn’t take us seriously because we are a bunch of youths. It’s really the perseverance and strength of us banding together that made everything work”
Since founding Cyber Youth Singapore, it has gone on to be backed by the National Youth Council and Cybersecurity Agency of Singapore.
How can we help younger generations succeed in cybersecurity?
When Cyber Youth Singapore first began, the young pioneers went to other corporations, agencies and individuals to rally support.
Ben appealed to established generations in cybersecurity to serve as mentors and give direction to the teenagers who want to be a cyber defendant of the future.
The CEO of Cyber Youth Singapore added: “I would also appeal to older generations to keep an open mind to give us a chance to show you what we can do. That opportunity goes a long way.”
Ben is working right now on educating secondary school students by giving outreach talks on cyber awareness and going beyond career guidance to show what cybersecurity can really offer.
Mr Chua said: “With how prevalent technology is today, cybersecurity education is something all children in the world should be entitled to.”
Cyber Youth Singapore has almost 400 members and hopes to reach 10,000 by 2021.
Mr Chua said: “When I look back at what we have accomplished I feel very humbled by what we have accomplished so far.”
Ben’s journey and bright future has only just begun. He will certainly be a leader to watch on the global stage as the cybersecurity industry continues to grow.