BY PYE SONE KYAW
Centre for Strategic Infocomm Technologies (CSIT) has never been too well-known of a defence technology organisation amongst most Singaporean youth, with the likes of Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) and Defence Science Organisation (DSO) taking precedence in terms of reputation. This is due to the highly classified nature of CSIT’s work which deals with cybersecurity and other highly sensitive technologies which naturally are a cause for secrecy. However, on the 8th of October 2019, we were fortunate to be given the opportunity to visit CSIT as part of their open house event. As a computer science undergraduate, I was excited to learn more about the ‘strategic technologies’ that CSIT was working on.
Our visit started off with a welcome talk in an intimate setting of what was not more than 40 students from the various local universities. The speakers shared about the nature of work they carried out at CSIT and how CSIT fitted in amongst the various defence technology organisations in Singapore. We were split into various tables and every table had an attached person from CSIT so that we could ask any questions we had. I found this first segment of the visit to be quite eye-opening as I was better able to understand the complex defence ecosystem that Singapore had and how all the various acronym-laden government organisations worked together to bolster Singapore’s defence.
The second segment of the visit was round robin of the booths of the five main technology areas of CSIT: cyber-technology, software engineering and analytics, communications technology, systems and network infrastructure, and crypto technology. Each booth had its own fun activity for us to get a better understanding of what the area encompassed, from looking at how virtual machines are designed and deployed almost instantaneously, to how to sniff data packets that were being sent to an attacker in order to find out more information about a cyber-attack. The booths were very engaging, and I was really awestruck by the technology showcased, as even though it may not be anything ground-breaking, we rarely get to see such things unless we are involved directly in such work.
Finally, we ended off the visit with a dinner and closing address by the Chief Executive of CSIT, who shared his own views on the security landscape in Singapore and how the career progression was like in CSIT, which is based on meritocracy rather than other means, unlike other similar organisations. Overall, it was a very enjoyable and possibly once-in-a-lifetime experience at the CSIT open house, and it definitely helped us to better understand the nature of work that CSIT does.