Securing a new path
Mr Foo Ming Qing equips himself with skills to specialise in cyber security — a frontier tech area
By Rachel Tan
Jan 6, 2020
When Mr Foo Ming Qing joined ST Engineering in 2015 as a software engineer, he didn’t expect to eventually specialise in cyber security. Now he is working on ways to keep personal data stored on public cloud platforms safe.
Part of his job as a software engineer was to build systems that monitor and manage the large network of Internet of Things (IoT) devices at ST Engineering — it involved implementing security measures to prevent and mitigate cyber attacks.
This exposure to cyber security sparked his interest in the field. His supervisors recognised his interest and recommended him for a secondment with the National Research Foundation in 2017. There, Mr Foo spent the next two years charting policies to shape Singapore’s cyber security research and development (R&D) landscape.
During his secondment, Mr Foo developed an interest in cyber security and began searching for a postgraduate course on cyber security.
“Cyber threats are becoming more advanced and I believed that a postgraduate course would better equip me to recognise and defend our systems against new threats,” he says.
In 2017, he enrolled in the part-time Master of Science in Security by Design (MSSD) offered by Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and later applied for the Singapore Digital (SG:D) Scholarship (Postgraduate) that would support his new career goal.
The scholarship also gave him exclusive access to SG:D Scholarship’s events and activities — specially curated to increase his industry networks — where he had the opportunity to hear from industry leaders on the latest trends and challenges. These interactions got him thinking: How can trusted computing technologies help public cloud platforms be more secure?
“The use of public cloud platforms relies on the owners of the cloud platform for security,” explains Mr Foo. “The owners also have unrestricted access to the data placed on the cloud.”
As part of his final project, he explored ways to use trusted computing technologies to securely process sensitive data such as medical data. The technologies create special secure enclaves that prevent unauthorised users, even the owner of the computer, from interfering with the processes within the enclaves.
After graduating last year, Mr Foo took his project back to ST Engineering-SUTD Cyber Security Laboratory. It is one of several R&D projects the security engineer is overseeing to build deep cyber security capabilities within the company and Singapore.
“We see an upward trend of tech companies harvesting and monetising their users' data to further their own commercial objectives,” he says. “We need to better protect the privacy of Internet users, and I see great potential in the use of trusted computer technologies to achieve this goal.”