Singapore telco StarHub gets into the cybersecurity action too

  • StarHub and partners to invest US$146mil over next 5yrs
  • To train at least 300 cybersecurity specialists in next 5yrs

Singapore telco StarHub gets into the cybersecurity action too

SINGAPORE’S StarHub Ltd has launched its cybersecurity centre of excellence (COE) which it said would bolster the cyberdefence ecosystem in the country, just a fortnight after rival telco Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (Singtel) launched its cybersecurity institute.

StarHub, however, said it aims to look at threats before the firewall, claiming it was the first telco to do so.

The company and its COE partners will be pumping in S$200 million (US$146 million) over the next five years to support a sustainable cybersecurity ecosystem, it said in a statement.

The COE aims to address four key elements: Innovation, partnerships, talent development, and national cyberdefence, according to StarHub chief executive officer Tan Tong Hai.

“With our innovative network-centric approach, we can monitor threats at the telco level,” he said.

“This is a first-of-its-kind approach – we are not aware of any telco in the world that provides cybersecurity services before the firewall,” he said in his speech at the media launch on May 18.

“Traditionally, companies monitor threats behind the firewall … at the telco level, we can see Internet traffic coming into Singapore, and we can look for anomalies in the traffic proactively before it enters enterprise networks.

“With all this network traffic, we can innovate on data analytics to continually improve on threat detection,” he added.

StarHub has partnered security companies such as BlueCoat, Cyberbit, EY, Fortinet, and Wedge Networks.

“We are working with world-class technology and consulting partners as well as the relevant agencies,” said Tan.

“For a start, we are working with overseas technology partners to develop and offer services for our customers, but over time, we want to build local capabilities and develop our own intellectual property to drive continued innovation,” he added.

StarHub has also enlisted institutes of higher learning such as Nanyang Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, and Singapore University of Technology and Design to develop talent.

“Working with tertiary institutions, we are focusing on developing highly specialised talents that are trained in before-the-firewall or network-centric approaches in cybersecurity,” said Tan.

“A healthy growing pool of cybersecurity talent will serve as the foundation for Singapore to create intellectual property in cybersecurity solutions,” he added.

StarHub said it is committed to training at least 300 cybersecurity specialists within the next five years.

Meanwhile, Tan said StarHub would be happy to work with other telcos on national cyberdefence.

“I believe all of us need to see cyberdefence on a national level in how we can secure systems and operations ... to create a ‘cyberdome’ to protect our country,” he said.

“Singapore can be a leading example for the rest of the world,” he added.

The second pair of eyes

StarHub also launched a new security offering, a non-intrusive cyber-monitoring service for its business customers.

The service will look into Internet traffic coming in and out of an enterprise network, and will flag anomalies through machine learning and analytics, according to StarHub chief technology officer Mock Pak Lum.

“We want to look at the ‘unknown unknowns’… we look at all the Internet traffic going into the enterprise and from there try to detect anomalies,” he said.

“We don’t look at content, we look at metadata, and from there we can have a lot of understanding of behaviour,” he added.

StarHub tested this service on its own network before offering it to customers, according to Mock.

“We are eating our own dog food,” he said.

There is a roadmap to extend this service to consumers as well, according to StarHub chief commercial officer Kelvin Lim.

“The roadmap is to first address large enterprises and government, and also cover SMEs (small and medium enterprises), and eventually we will need to find a way to protect the consumer,” he said.

StarHub also announced a Security Operations Centre (SOC) which will run round the clock.

Related Stories:

CSI Singapore! Singtel launches cybersecurity institute

SEA not ready for a cyber-attack … nope, not really

Emerging economies getting with the cybersecurity programme: RSA

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