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What is Singapore doing to step up its cybersecurity game?

Nayela Deeba | June 1, 2017
GlaxoSmithKline’s Winston Chew talks about some of Singapore government’s initiatives to address current and future cyberthreats at the Computerworld Singapore Security Summit 2017.

Winston Chew, director, regional information security officer, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), at the Computerworld Singapore Security Summit 2017.

Singapore has not been spared from the rise of cyberthreats and cyberattacks. Just two weeks ago, the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) announced that about 500 internet protocol (IP) addresses in Singapore may have been hit by the WannaCry ransomware attacks. This is in addition to the WannaCry attacks on digital signages at Tiong Bahru Plaza and White Sands.

CSA also recently announced that hackers broke into the IT networks of the Nanyang Technological University and the National University of Singapore in April to possibly steal government or research information.

Besides that, basic personal information of about 850 National Servicemen and MINDEF employees was stolen when Singapore's Ministry of Defence (MINDEF)'s I-net system was breached in February.  

The Singapore government is thus taking various measures to bolster its defences against the growing threat of cyberattacks, said Winston Chew, director, regional information security officer, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), at the Computerworld Singapore Security Summit 2017.

For instance, the government has strengthened its governance and legislative framework, said Chew. One way it has done so is by making changes to the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act (CMCA) in April.

Under the amended act, the use of personal data obtained from a cybercrime, as well as hacking tools, is considered an offence. It is also an offence to commit a criminal act while overseas, against a computer located overseas, if the act cause a significant risk of serious harm in Singapore.

Singapore is also faced with a shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals. It is estimated that there will be a shortage of 2,500 cybersecurity professionals in the republic by 2019, said Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, at last year's National Security Conference. He is also the minister-in-charge of cybersecurity.

To address this shortfall, the government is working with local universities and polytechnics - including Nanyang Polytechnic and the Singapore Institute of Technology - to offer industry-oriented cybersecurity curriculums to groom new talents, said Chew.

For mid-career or existing professionals, Chew urged them to upgrade their cybersecurity skills by leveraging the SkillsFuture Techskills Accelerator (TeSA), Workfare Training Support, or Enhanced Training Support For SMEs (ETSS).

Chew also shared that in February, Singapore's Committee on the Future Economy recommended "using national service [to equip army personnel] with deep, niche skills in cybersecurity". 

Supporting this move, Singapore's Minister of Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen, said at the Committee of Supply Debate on 3 March 2017 that his ministry will be setting up a Defence Cyber Organisation (DCO).


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