Singapore to beef up its cybersecurity efforts

To create a resilient and trusted cyber environment that will enable the city to realise the benefits of technology.

By Nurdianah Md Nur
Oct. 10, 2016

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivering his opening speech at the Singapore International Cybersecurity Week. Credit: CSA's website

Singapore has announced its strategy to create a resilient and trusted cyber environment, which is critical for it to realise its Smart Nation vision.

"While ICT brings about opportunities, it also [creates] vulnerabilities for us," said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Singapore International Cyber Week opening ceremony on 10 October 2016.

"This year, thieves siphoned US$81 million from the Bangladesh Bank in a sophisticated cyberheist. Singapore has also been targeted. From time to time, our [government] systems have been compromised. [Moreover,] there are fake websites masquerading as government websites such as the SPF [Singapore Police Force], which are hosted overseas and phish for personal information or scam people into sending money," he explained.

Developed by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), the new cybersecurity strategy will "supercede the [previous five-year] National Cyber Security Masterplan 2018", said David Koh, Chief Executive of CSA in a press briefing. "[While] the earlier version focused on more operational and technical aspects as the first level of coverage, the new strategy is more encompassing and provides a wider coverage," he added. 

The new cybersecurity strategy is underpinned by four pillars.

The first is building a resilient infrastructure. "We will [first] enhance our critical infrastructure. We are investing more of our ICT budget to strengthen government systems and networks, especially those that handle sensitive data to protect them from cyber attacks," PM Lee said.

The second is creating a safer cyberspace, which requires a collective effort of the government, businesses, individuals and the community. PM Lee explained that CSA will issue regular advisories to businesses on imminent cyberattacks and emerging cyber threats, as well as provide technical guides and self-help checklist to help organisations strengthen the security of their networks.

"Companies must understand that cybersecurity is also their problem and make the necessary investments to protect their customers. At the same time, individuals should stay safe online and practice good cyber hygiene," he asserted.

The third is developing a vibrant cybersecurity ecosystem. To address the shortage of cybersecurity professionals, the Singapore government is working with local universities and polytechnics to offer industry-oriented cybersecurity curriculum, said PM Lee.

He added that the government is also working with the industry to develop the needed talent. For instance, the Cyber Security Associates and Technologists (CSAT) programme provides ICT graduates and experienced professionals with on-the-job training with partner companies such as Singtel, ST Electronics, Quann and Accel Systems & Technologies.

As cyberattacks do not respect jurisdictions, the final pillar of Singapore's cybersecurity strategy is strengthening international partnerships. "Cybersecurity cooperation will help us protect our supranational information infrastructures such as the internet submarine cables. We are [thus] working with other governments to share intelligence, work together to block attacks, shut down [malicious] networks, and learn good practices from one another," PM Lee said.

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