The AXA Research Fund, the science philanthropy initiative of global insurance leader, the AXA Group, announced that Professor Robert Deng from SMU’s School of Information Systems (SIS) has been conferred the prestigious AXA Chair Professorship of Cybersecurity at the inaugural SMU Cybersecurity Forum held today. This year, six AXA Chairs were selected for this honour globally and Professor Deng is the only one from Singapore.
The official conferment of the AXA Chair Professorship of Cybersecurity was held in conjunction with the inaugural SMU Cybersecurity Forum. More than 200 people attended the event, including SMU President Professor Arnoud De Meyer, SMU Provost Professor Lily Kong, CEO of General Insurance AXA Asia, Mr Jean Drouffe, CEO of AXA Insurance Singapore Mrs Doina Palici-Chehab and Selection Officer at the AXA Research Fund Mr Chaouki Boutharouite.
Recognising that cybersecurity has become a key concern to businesses and individuals due to the increased frequency in cyberattacks and the resultant heavy price borne by victims of cybercrime, the AXA Research Fund has awarded Professor Deng with €800,000 (SGD 1.2million) over a period of eight years to support his research in the development of new ways of protecting data security and privacy. As the newly appointed AXA Chair Professor of Cybersecurity, Professor Deng will undertake a research programme to systematically investigate a unified framework for protecting data in the new environment. The research is expected to yield new security models, algorithms, protocols, and analysis techniques which will help organisations and individuals mitigate risks emanating from cybersecurity threats.
“It is a tremendous honour to be awarded this chair professorship by AXA and I would like to express my sincere appreciation to AXA Research Fund,” said AXA Chair Professor of Cybersecurity Robert Deng. “With the research funding, I will be able to execute an important step change at SMU by bringing together the university’s strengths in cybersecurity and analytics across the technology, management and social science areas. I will also be able to deepen and strengthen my collaborations with scholars from all over the world.”
According to statistics released by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), 81.3% of Singapore’s population are internet users, using essential services such as banking, healthcare, transport that are powered by Infocomm technology. The acceleration of digital transformation of companies in Singapore also implies a multiplication of cyber incidents as well as an increase in the cost of breaches. According to Symantec, Singapore is ranked eighth in the region, and 42nd globally, for ransomware by destination, with 16 total attacks occurring a day in 2015.
“The ubiquity of high speed internet and smart devices makes Singapore one of the most well connected countries in the world. But this also makes individuals and organisations prime targets for cyber criminals. Professor Deng’s research will prove invaluable in developing new ways to defend against cyber threats and we are proud that the globally coveted AXA Chair was awarded to a project from Singapore,” said AXA Insurance Chief Executive Officer Doina Palici-Chehab. “Building knowledge on risks as an enabler for effective prevention has always been a key focus in the way AXA protects communities, and we look forward to playing a role in helping strengthen Singapore’s cybersecurity capabilities, giving Singaporeans a peace of mind as they conduct their businesses online.”
As the company that launched Singapore’s first online risk insurance for individuals in 2014, AXA is focused on protecting individuals and organisations from the growing dangers of cyber threats. With the awarding of the grant to Professor Deng, AXA reaffirmed its commitment to help raise awareness about potential cyber risks, by educating both businesses and individuals about effective means to deal with the problem, especially for vulnerable businesses who face the biggest risks.