Filtered by: CSMEDIA

Protecting data as the new gold

23 November 2021 CSMEDIA Department of Computer Science , Faculty , News Media , Security

Goh, a former MyRepublic mobile subscriber, was one of nearly 79,400 other customers who had their personal data potentially accessed by hackers when the telco's third-party servers were compromised on Aug 29 this year. He had ported his mobile number to MyRepublic to take advantage of its cheaper rates, but has since ported back to his previous telco after the breach.

Data, including scanned copies of both sides of National Registration Identity Cards (NRICs) were potentially exposed in the MyRepublic breach. The information had been used to verify the identity of customers applying for their mobile services.

The Business Times, 23 November 2021

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Behind the scenes: A day in the life of a cybersecurity "threat hunter

09 August 2021 CSMEDIA Department of Computer Science , Student , News Media , Security

Twenty-six-year-old Cherlynn Cha, born and raised in Singapore, thought cybersecurity was "so cool" as a teenager. "The good guys get the bad guys," she said, "or help each other using cool, cutting-edge technology."

Cha attended the National University of Singapore and studied computer science with a focus in cybersecurity, where she learned "the theory behind all of the things we take for granted." She first got a security job in a consulting firm, where she worked in identity and access management, then she worked at a bank, as a security operations center analyst before landing her current job, as a "threat hunter" at ExpressVPN.

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Software Engineer Recreates Singapore MRT on a Circuit Board

05 August 2021 CSMEDIA Department of Computer Science , Student , News Media

PCBs are used for any electronic gadget, from your smartphone to industrial equipment such as electric drills. They can also be used by hobbyists who want to build their own electronics projects such as in the case of Arduino.

Singaporean software engineer Chai Jia Xun has recently used a PCB in an interesting manner. He created a palm-sized trinket prototype of the Singapore MRT, including the new Thomson-East Coast MRT line. Chai has been an employee at Silicon Valley for at least three years. As a graduate of the NUS School of Computing, he says that his education wasn't at all related to PCBs. However, his interest in train system maps and PCBs led him to create the prototype. He also revealed that he made the MRT prototype for the sole reason that it looks cool. Chai learned mostly from YouTube and used free software to start making his PCB projects.

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Founders of start-up aim to be as versatile as waffles

21 July 2021 CSMEDIA Department of Computer Science , Student , News Media

Waffles with maple syrup are a welcome breakfast treat, or pair them up with fried chicken for an irresistible savoury dish. The flexibility of the popular food item helped fire up the imagination of two National University of Singapore (NUS) students during their time with the NUS Overseas Colleges programme in Silicon Valley, and spurred them to create a business idea. The founders, Mr Auston Quek, 27, and Mr Zames Chua, 26, started the firm about five months ago, after graduating from NUS last year, following a chat about the idea over lunch - which happened to be waffles and fried chicken.

Called Waffle Technologies, the firm provides point-of-sale services to bricks-and-mortar food and beverage outlets. It aims to provide insights to these businesses by analysing the data from their transactions as well as loyalty and rewards software. So far, the firm has racked up a client base of 42 customers and the two founders manage a team of six.

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Future-Ready: How Is Singapore Developing Its Fintech Talent Pool?

14 July 2021 CSMEDIA Department of Computer Science , Faculty , Student , News Media

As the fintech ecosystem continues to flourish in Singapore, there is a growing need for talent. To prepare for this, the government together with these institutions are working towards creating a strong fintech talent pipeline, equipped with the relevant skills for tomorrow’s workforce. Recognising the gap in the fintech talent pool, these institutions are also forming strategic collaborations to strengthen the talent pipeline with relevant skills through education.

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New NUS centre gives computing students a chance to serve community

30 June 2021 CSMEDIA Department of Computer Science , Faculty , Student , News Media

A new centre at the National University of Singapore (NUS) is rolling out a raft of special programmes for people with autism, children from low-income homes and social service agencies. The initiatives, which offer NUS Computing students opportunities to take part in community service, are helmed by the Centre for Computing for Social Good and Philanthropy, which was launched yesterday at the NUS School of Computing. The centre was set up with a gift of $1.5 million from the Mrs Lee Choon Guan Trust Fund, which supports initiatives linked to healthcare and education. Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, the guest of honour at the launch, said the push for an inclusive digital society must continue as digital disruptions gain momentum in the future. 

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Couple in S'pore raises S$190,000 to send oxygen concentrators to India for fight against Covid-19

05 May 2021 CSMEDIA Department of Computer Science , Alum , News Media

The Covid-19 crisis in India has escalated in the past month, with the country reporting several hundred thousand new cases per day and the total number of cases surpassing two million on May 4. Hoping to raise money to support efforts in the fight against Covid-19 in India, one Singapore-based couple started a dollar-for-dollar matching crowdfunding campaign that has raised more than S$192,000 from donors around the world in just 11 days. Singaporean permanent residents (PRs) Prantik Mazumdar and Dipti Kamath told Mothership that they started the fundraiser because of deep concern for their family, friends, colleagues, and loved ones living in India. Prantik has been been living in Singapore for 20 years, coming here initially to complete his Bachelor's Degree in Computer Engineering from the National University of Singapore's (NUS) School of Computing. He became a PR in 2007. They decided to provide help from the outside by galvanising and mobilising the Indian diaspora, as well as their friends, colleagues, and network in Singapore, through a campaign on local crowdfunding platform Milaap, which was founded in Singapore by two NUS School of Computing alumni, Anoj Viswanathan and Sourabh Sharma.

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What does the SolarWinds saga mean for Singapore?

04 May 2021 CSMEDIA Department of Computer Science , Faculty , News Media

The world first caught wind of a massive breach linked to cyber firm SolarWinds last December. The breach was unique not only in its scale, but also in its method of attack. Hackers targeted the very first stop of the entire cyber line of defense: the cybersecurity software.

One surprising factor was the scale of these attacks, say Abhik Roychoudhury, Provost’s Chair Professor at the National University of Singapore’s Department of Computer Science, and Liang Zhenkai, who is Associate Professor at the same department.

First, we need to rethink what makes ‘trustworthy’ software, say Roychoudhury and Liang. “Think of this as extra vigilance – why trust software because it comes from a trusted supplier?” they add. The second lesson is to prioritise application security, which means making services that run on individual devices more secure. Every device – be it a mobile phone, laptop or IoT sensor – that connects to an organisation’s central network presents an opportunity for attackers to strike. The bad news is that software for these devices are “most fragile (and poorly written), allowing attackers easy access,” Roychoudhury and Liang note.

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Sea makes S$50 million gift to advance cutting edge research and education at NUS School of Computing

29 March 2021 CSMEDIA Department of Computer Science , Department of Information Systems & Analytics , News Media , Press Release

The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Sea Limited (NYSE: SE) (Sea) today announced that Sea has made a corporate gift of S$50 million to NUS to support the advancement of research and education at NUS School of Computing (NUS Computing), one of the world’s leading computing schools. The gift agreement was signed today at NUS Kent Ridge Campus, where Minister for Education Mr Lawrence Wong witnessed the signing as the Guest-of-Honour.

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Covid-19 tech heroes recognised for racing against the clock to help fight pandemic in S'pore

19 March 2021 CSMEDIA Department of Computer Science , Faculty , Student , News Media

With new Covid-19 cases spiking into the hundreds daily in May last year, a team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) raced against time to develop a system to help government contact tracers identify close contacts of patients. Despite their relative inexperience in creating such a large-scale system, the team of six current and former NUS students managed to develop a Web application in under three weeks, with help from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). The app collated information from various sources to provide contact tracers with an overview of the patient's movements and the people he was in close contact with.

The NUS team's efforts were recognised on Thursday (March 18) at the IT Leader Awards 2021, which was themed Tech Heroes From Crisis to pay tribute to people who made a significant positive impact on the community through technology during the Covid-19 crisis. The awards were organised by the Singapore Computer Society.

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Find your 'element' to pick the right course and university

22 February 2021 CSMEDIA Department of Computer Science , Faculty , Student , News Media

In this second of the AskST series on university education, The Straits Times looks at how to pick the right institution and course of study.

Q: It is good to have a choice of six local universities, but what should my son look out for in making the choice, other than ensuring that the university offers the computing degree course he wants to pursue?

A: Computing is a good course to study, given the rise of Industry 4.0, which refers to a new phase in industrial revolution that focuses heavily on interconnectivity, automation, machine learning and real-time data.

Several public universities offer degree courses in computing. So, how do you pick the right one?

First, look at whether your son is able to meet the cut-off score for computing, as it is highly competitive. 

For the National University of Singapore (NUS), which has Singapore's largest intake of students for computing - with more than 1,400 last year - students generally need four As to enter the course.

Having said that, many students, including those at NUS, are admitted into computing despite falling short of the cut-off score.

Often, they demonstrate their aptitude for and interest in the field through other means, be it in the interview process or through some software they may have created.

NUS provost Ho Teck Hua feels it is important to recognise that developments in computing are rapid. Therefore, his advice is to pick a university where teaching and research in the field are at the cutting edge.

How do you ascertain that? One way is to look at the international rankings according to disciplines.

NUS, for example, was ranked ninth in the world last year for computer science and information systems by Times Higher Education and Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), where significant weightage is given to research output.

Your son should study the job and salary prospects for computing graduates in the yearly survey results, which were released on Friday last week. 

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Disney+ won't allow VPN users to access overseas version of video streaming service

16 February 2021 CSMEDIA Department of Computer Science , Faculty , News Media , Systems & Networking , Security

It may not be possible for some Singaporeans to get their fix of The Mandalorian Star Wars TV series by using technological tricks to watch an overseas version of Disney+, such as before the video streaming service launches here officially on Feb 23. The Walt Disney Company told The Straits Times that in line with the Disney+ subscriber agreement, it does not allow users to access Disney+ using a virtual private network - to bypass geographical restrictions - in a territory where the service is not yet live.

 Associate Professor Liang Zhenkai from the National University of Singapore (NUS) said that when a person uses a VPN, Disney cannot directly detect the overseas clients at the network level.

"These undetected IP addresses used by the VPN service are not easily blocked. If Disney gradually recognises the VPN provider's network, they can block it later," said Prof Liang, who is from NUS' Department of Computer Science.

This could happen if, for example, Disney detects a large number of unrelated users sending in requests from the same IP address, which suggests a delegation service like a VPN service is being used. But Prof Liang said that if the Disney+ app is used for streaming, there are other methods to recognise whether the client is from a different country, such as using the app store's region or global positioning system information of a mobile device.

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Greening The Net

20 January 2021 CSMEDIA Department of Computer Science , Faculty , News Media , Systems & Networking

Life has gotten more digital than ever before. And the plusses of that for the environment has been clear…as in clear skies and clean air. What is not so clear however is this: when it comes to greenhouse gases, the Internet is responsible for 2% of global emissions. If the Internet were a country, it would be ranked as the sixth largest polluter in the world.

But the Internet is here to stay, so what can be done to make it greener? From individuals not hitting Reply All on emails or turning off Auto Play for videos, to data centres running on green energy and search engines giving back to the environment, host Prerna Pant looks at all the various ways we are Greening The ‘Net.

Pant also interviews Assistant Professor Trevor E. Carlson on how Internet usage is contributing to our carbon footprint.

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NUS scientists develop computational tool to help design safer devices

29 December 2020 CSMEDIA Department of Computer Science , Faculty , News Media , Security

As the world embraces the Internet of Things (IoT), more and more everyday appliances are being connected to the Internet so that people can monitor those appliances remotely. While this makes our lives more convenient, there is a looming threat of cybercriminals using these devices to gain access to sensitive data.

Now, scientists from the National University of Singapore’s School of Computing (NUS Computing) have made it easier to guard against that. They have developed a software tool that can simulate hacker attacks, and which provide an automated way to protect the design. This helps designers create more secure computer chips.

The software works by simulating a physical hardware attack known as laser fault injection. To accomplish this on a real device, the cyber-criminal would first partially disassemble the hardware to gain access to its silicon chip without interrupting its operation. Then, they use a laser to generate a processor error. This throws the gates open, allowing them to extract data and security information.

Previously, it was expensive to protect chips against this kind of attack because they had to be tested manually. If the chip fails the test, the design must start over. The NUS software, called the Laser fault Attack Benchmark Suite or LABS, can now simulate attacks in a wide variety of situations and demonstrate how the chip reacts. All this can be done without having to manufacture a single chip. This helps chip designers figure out how to repel the attack, and even trick the attackers into thinking they have succeeded. With this software, chip manufacturers will be able to simulate any device, and results are available within minutes.

The NUS scientists, led by Assistant Professor Trevor E. Carlson and Professor Peh Li Shiuan, have made the software open source so researchers and the chip design community can use it, or help make it better.

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Generation Grit: NUS undergrad with cerebral palsy plans on helping others like him

24 December 2020 CSMEDIA Department of Computer Science , Student , News Media , Feature

The road to university can be difficult for any student, but Mr Ng Jun Kang had to overcome daily challenges that others gave no thought to. Like getting to class, for instance, or taking notes. Or even getting a drink of water.

The 22-year-old first year Computer Science undergraduate at the National University of Singapore has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which was caused by a brain injury during birth.

Although his condition affects his muscle control, motor skills and his speech, it proved no obstacle to his achieving good grades and clinching scholarships. Quite the opposite, he argues.

"My condition has gifted me resilience and patience in everything that I do," he said.

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Beyond the classroom: Innovations that change the world

14 December 2020 CSMEDIA Department of Computer Science , Faculty , News Media , Systems & Networking , Security

Lettuce, mint and even tomatoes – Singaporeans may soon be able to grow these vegetables and more in their HDB flats.

Having witnessed “a deep psychological fear” when COVID-19 sparked panic buying here, Toby Fong and his team – superFARM – decided to bolster the nation’s food security. Their plan? Encourage green fingers through home-based farming.

“When we think about food security, it’s usually at a national level so it almost feels like the individual (is disconnected) from the entire food security equation,” said Toby, who graduated with a Master’s from NUS Architecture this year.

Under the “Make Our People Better” category, Toby, NUS Computing graduate Lim Hui Qi and NUS Arts and Social Sciences graduate Ong Jun Ren will design modular farming units that can fit into the smallest of homes. These units can also be customised for bigger spaces.

The plan is to transform niche hydroponics systems into functional mini-farms. In the next six months, half of their $50,000 funding will go to research such as field testing and online surveys, while the rest will be used for prototype development.

The team also wants to expand the individual’s role in food security to make sustainability a way of life.

“We want to recalibrate people’s attitude and behaviour to encourage responsible food consumption,” said Toby.

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Robot vacuum cleaners can be used by hackers to 'spy' on private conversations: NUS study

08 December 2020 CSMEDIA Department of Computer Science , Faculty , News Media , Systems & Networking , Security

When your robot vacuum cleaner does its work around the house, beware that it could pick up private conversations along with the dust and dirt. Computer scientists from NUS have demonstrated that it is indeed possible to spy on private conversations using a common robot vacuum cleaner and its built-in Light Detection and Ranging (Lidar) sensor.

The novel method, called LidarPhone, repurposes the Lidar sensor that a robot vacuum cleaner normally uses for navigating around a home into a laser-based microphone to eavesdrop on private conversations.

The research team, led by Assistant Professor Jun Han from NUS Computer Science, and his doctoral student Mr Sriram Sami, managed to recover speech data with high accuracy. NUS students, Mr Dai Yimin and Mr Sean Tan Rui Xiang, as well as Assistant Professor Nirupam Roy from the University of Maryland, also contributed to this work.

Mr Sami shared, “The proliferation of smart devices – including smart speakers and smart security cameras – has increased the avenues for hackers to snoop on our private moments. Our method shows it is now possible to gather sensitive data just by using something as innocuous as a household robot vacuum cleaner. Our work demonstrates the urgent need to find practical solutions to prevent such malicious attacks.”'

The core of the LidarPhone attack method is the Lidar sensor, a device which fires out an invisible scanning laser, and creates a map of its surroundings. By reflecting lasers off common objects such as a dustbin or a takeaway bag located near a person’s computer speaker or television soundbar, the attacker could obtain information about the original sound that made the objects’ surfaces vibrate. Using applied signal processing and deep learning algorithms, speech could be recovered from the audio data, and sensitive information could potentially be obtained.

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New practices needed to stay safe online in era of working from home

08 December 2020 CSMEDIA Department of Computer Science , Faculty , News Media , Systems & Networking , Security

Say "no" when your child asks to use your work laptop to do his schoolwork, or set up a different user account on the work laptop for different activities.

There are ways to reset habits and practices for a more digitally secure 2021 as working and e-learning from home become the new normal even after Covid-19, said panellists at The Straits Times Reset 2021 Webinar Series: Digitalisation And Cyber Security on Wednesday.

The panellists comprised of Associate Professor Steven Wong from the Singapore Institute of Technology, Mr David Koh, chief executive of the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore; Associate Professor Chang Ee-Chien from the National University of Singapore School of Computing; and Mr Benjamin Ang, head of the Cyber and Homeland Defence Programme at the Centre of Excellence for National Security, a policy research think-tank.

Prof Chang suggested segregating devices at home by individual or workflow. For example, as far as possible, children should use a different desktop or laptop from the ones their parents use for work.

"If that is not possible, then try to segregate by setting up different user accounts on a laptop. Even if you have your own machine, you can segregate accounts for work, for family, or for playing games," he said.

"Segregation is about setting up security parameters, so that when something happens within that parameter it will not spill over to other (areas)."

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Seven NUS professors lauded for their work and service

08 December 2020 CSMEDIA Department of Computer Science , Faculty , News Media , Programming Languages & Software Engineering , Security

NUS has honoured seven exceptional educators, researchers and professionals at the NUS University Awards 2020. The annual event recognises individuals for their outstanding contributions in the areas of education, research and service to the University, Singapore and the global community.

Professor Dong Jin Song from the NUS' School of Computing was given the University Research Recognition Award for developing a software verification framework that has more than 4,000 users from over 150 countries.

NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye lauded the award winners for being role models for the university community. “Each award winner has exemplified the spirit of excellence with an indomitable spirit. They are truly esteemed individuals – beacons and pathfinders who inspire us to better ourselves and to scale new heights even in times of crisis. NUS is proud to celebrate their dedication and distinguished accomplishments,” he said.

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60 years of facial recognition: The hidden perils behind Singapore’s ‘facial recognition era’

27 November 2020 CSMEDIA Department of Computer Science , Faculty , News Media , Security , Media

In recent years, the Singapore government has tapped on facial recognition for various purposes as part of its ‘smart nation’ initiative. For instance, Changi Airport’s Terminal 4 uses facial recognition technology for various purposes such as passenger check-in, immigration and boarding, while GovTech launched a launched the "Lamppost-as-a-Platform" project, which outfits some 95,000 traditional lampposts in the country with a network of wireless sensors and cameras to support urban and transportation planning and operations.

Associate Professor Terence Sim from the School of Computing at the National University of Singapore stated in an exclusive interview with China-based news website The Paper that there are trends of facial recognition technology being abused, and that laws protecting such technology could be further strengthened. He also elaborated further on privacy issues regarding such technology.

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