Tan Weisheng, DSTA

Tan Weisheng

Senior Engineer in DSTA's Cybersecurity Programme Centre

Graduated from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) School of Computer Science and joined DSTA as a cybersecurity engineer.

I am currently exploring how we can use artificial intelligence to enhance anomaly detection features in our solutions.

Getting started

Computer games and programming have always fascinated me from a young age. When I was in primary school, my older brother was already into Information Technology (IT) and this helped me grow my interest in the field. While in Temasek Polytechnic, I picked up HTML and CSS to personalise my blog, and I would add in Easter eggs – non-functional features – using JavaScript for my friends to discover. Later, I pursued my passion in programming by studying computer science at Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

In my final year, an internship with the Cybersecurity Programme Centre (PC) at the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) caught my attention as the project was on Android app development, something I was very excited about working on. Together with a fellow intern, we developed a secure Bluetooth file transfer Android app using cryptography techniques. It was my first time being exposed to hands-on applications of cybersecurity, and after graduation, I knew I wanted to be a cybersecurity engineer at DSTA.

My job

I am currently in the Smart Technology Security team. My work involves designing and developing custom solutions that enhance the overall security of mobile devices used in MINDEF/SAF, for example, to monitor mobile devices to ensure they are not compromised.

Some of the interesting parts of my job include the opportunities to explore and work with new technology. For instance, I am currently exploring how we can use artificial intelligence to enhance anomaly detection features in our solutions.

Challenges

As a fresh graduate, I found it quite challenging to keep up with the latest developments in the fast-evolving field of cybersecurity. However, this period was also the most rewarding as I learnt a lot about this exciting discipline.

I also had a very good mentor who took time to discuss my projects with me, and had weekly check-ins to ensure I was on the right track. My teammates were also very enthusiastic about their work and would share tech updates and news regularly with one another. New cybersecurity engineers also have to go for a three-day cybersecurity foundation course, to test their basic understanding!

During my free time, I would read up on topics such as cryptography and information assurance. I also made use of resources such as news aggregator sites to curate cybersecurity articles to gain better understanding of evolving cyber threats and new methodologies to counter them. Watching tutorials or lecture videos on YouTube also injected some fun into my learning process.

My happiest moment

One of my happiest moments was successfully delivering a solution to improve the security of mobile devices used in MINDEF and the SAF. It was an especially challenging project as there were no ready solutions that we could refer to in the market. We had to code from scratch, and build an innovative solution that met operational requirements and catered to future system and device upgrades. Doing this as a team and seeing the solution deployed was one of the most satisfying experiences for me. I hope to continue using my expertise to make valuable contributions to our nation’s defence.

How to excel

Aside from possessing the relevant technical skills and knowledge, having the right attitude and being willing to learn on-the-job are more important to excel in your job. Communication skills are also key as project discussions and brainstorming sessions usually involve our SAF partners or team members from other departments and engineering disciplines. Being able to explain concepts and thoughts clearly is essential.

I am glad that DSTA embraces learning as I have had the opportunity to attend various internal and external courses to learn more about data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Advice

Be hungry to learn as much as possible, especially in the first few years of your career. What you learn then will form the foundation of your career.