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The State of Cybersecurity in Singapore 2017

Richard Pain | April 28, 2017
As Singapore presses on with it's Smart Nation initiative, we take a look what the city state is doing to enhance cybersecurity.

In addition to all this, there are also many initiatives encouraging students to get into cybersecurity and for professionals to train in this area. Funding has been made available and many agreements between universities and private companies have been made to grow the talent pool. Additionally, CSA launched its “Live Savvy with Cybersecurity” roadshow and advertising campaign in February 2017, to educate the public on cybersecurity best practices.


Busy people in the digital economy


Cybersecurity Challenges Ahead

Enhancing cybersecurity is an ongoing journey, with no fixed destination. According to Chai Chin Loon, Senior Director of Cyber Security Group at GovTech, who spoke to CIO Asia in late 2016, there are three main challenges on Singapore’s road ahead.

"[Firstly,] we need to find a balance between users’ needs and organisations’ needs, as well as having a view of the macro cybersecurity landscape. As a government, we also need to think beyond the traditional concepts of confidentiality, integrity and availability. We have to also balance usability against cost with security.  The right pragmatic balance of these three parameters is becoming more and more important." 

Secondly, it is not easy to get people to understand that they are truly the weakest link. Cybersecurity is very much dependent on the end user as the last line of defence after a malicious email or software manages to get past the system's initial defences. It is therefore important that end users are aware of cybersecurity matters, something which is not always on the back of people's minds, Mr Chai asserted.

Lastly, it is crucial to create an ecosystem. This can be a challenging task, due to the large number of agencies and stakeholders within the government. "Piecemeal security or agency-level arrangements do not make our networks safer, because an attacker can still enter the network via a weaker agency," explained Mr Chai. 


Singapore's Chinatown at night


The Future of Cybersecurity in Singapore

As shown in this article, between 2015 – 2017 Singapore announced a vast array of new cybersecurity initiatives, laws and organisations in rapid succession. As a result, it is the opinion of this author that Singapore’s cybersecurity preparedness ranking will rise in the next edition of the Global Cybersecurity Index. Yet Singapore’s cybersecurity journey is far from over, with even more initiatives scheduled over the coming years. 

For example, as part of Singapore’s Smart Nation Initiative, the Ministry of Trade and Industry is creating Industry Transformation Maps (ITMS) for 23 key industrial sectors in Singapore’s economy, which make up over 80% of the country’s GDP. The ITMS will promote growth and competitiveness by encouraging, amongst other things, innovation, digitisation and employee training. As the ITMS are planned, members of Singapore’s cybersecurity industry are working to make sure that security considerations are factored in.


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