Singapore’s PM Lee introduces cybersecurity strategy to protect government systems from online threats

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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong today launched Singapore’s Cybersecurity Strategy at the opening of the inaugural Singapore International Cyber Week. The Strategy outlines how Singapore will continue to strengthen the resilience of the country’s cybersecurity.

Prime Minister Lee at the launch said,

While infocomm technologies (ICT) brings about opportunities, it also make us vulnerable. Globally, cyber threats and attacks are becoming more frequent and sophisticated, with more severe consequences.

This is why Singapore needs to coordinate efforts and develop the strategy on cybersecurity. The nation will also step up cooperation with other countries, as well as empower the Cyber Security Agency (CSA) to direct private sector operators and essential services, Lee added. He also said that Government systems have occasionally been compromised, and the financial sector has also suffered attacks leading to data leaks.

This strategy sets out Singapore’s vision, goals and priorities in the area of cybersecurity and outlines the country’s commitment to build a resilient and trusted cyber environment for Singapore and Singaporeans. According to an official statement, the strategy has been developed after a consultation process with 50 stakeholders over the past year. Cybersecurity is a key enabler for Singapore’s digitally-enabled economy and society. Four main pillars underpinning the strategy are –

Building a Resilient Infrastructure

The Government will work with key stakeholders, including private sector operators and the cybersecurity community, to strengthen the resilience of Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) that supports these essential services. The Government will establish robust and systematic cyber risk management processes, as well as response and recovery plans, across all critical sectors. To do so, it is necessary to grow a culture of cyber-risk awareness across CIIs. The increased adoption of Security-by-Design practices to address cybersecurity issues across the supply chain will remain an important focus. A new Cybersecurity Act will also be introduced in 2017, to provide a comprehensive legal framework for national cybersecurity.

Creating a Safer Cyberspace

The Strategy outlines efforts by various agencies to combat cybercrime and to enhance Singapore’s standing as a trusted data hub. These initiatives include the National Cybercrime Action Plan, launched by the Ministry of Home Affairs in July 2016. However, the Government cannot tackle cybersecurity challenges alone. To promote collective responsibility for cybersecurity, communities and business associations should play their part by fostering their members’ understanding of cybersecurity issues and promoting the adoption of good practices.

Developing a Vibrant Cybersecurity Ecosystem

A vibrant cybersecurity ecosystem will provide a sustainable source of expertise and capabilities for resilient infrastructure and a safer cyberspace. It will also bring Singapore to the forefront of cybersecurity innovation and create economic opportunities for Singaporeans. The Government will associate with industry partners and Institutes of Higher Learning to grow the cybersecurity workforce. Scholarship programmes and industry-oriented curriculums will be introduced, while up-skilling and re-skilling opportunities for mid-career professionals will be provided through initiatives such as the Cyber Security Associates and Technologists Programme. The Government will also partner the private sector and academia to develop technologically-advanced companies, nurture local start-ups, and harness Research & Development (R&D).

Strengthening International Partnerships

Singapore will actively cooperate with he international community, particularly ASEAN, to address transnational cybersecurity and cybercrime issues. Singapore will also champion initiatives for cyber capacity building, as well as facilitate global exchanges on cyber norms, policy and legislation. The Singapore International Cyber Week and ASEAN Ministerial Conference on Cybersecurity are examples of platforms to promote such exchanges.

The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore engages with various industries, and stakeholders to heighten cyber security awareness as well as to ensure the holistic development of Singapore’s cyber security landscape. The Agency was established under the Prime Minister’s Office and is managed by the Ministry of Communications and Information.

Singapore’s government also recently launched a new agency christened GovTech (Government Technology Agencyto carry out digital transformation and make government services more user-friendly. Prior to that, an official merger Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) of the Infocomm Development Authority and the Media Development Authority was formed. The former aims to will focus primarily in the public sector while the merged entity, IMDA will work mainly in the digital front with the private sector.