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Singapore will increase cybersecurity capability as part of new strategy

The Singapore government has said that it will strengthen its IT infrastructure, increase cybersecurity capabilities and increase collaboration with other countries as part of a new cybersecurity strategy.11 Oct 2016

Singapore's prime minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the strategy this week during Singapore's International Cyber Week.

The strategy has been developed by Singapore's Cyber Security Agency (CSA), which was set up last year. It will have four components, Lee said: strengthening the country's critical infrastructure; working with businesses and individuals; increasing cybersecurity capabilities; and working with other countries.

"We are investing more to strengthen government systems and networks, especially those handling sensitive data to protect them from cyber attacks. Operators of essential services will have to develop robust cyber risk management frameworks and responses," Lee said.

One initiative already in place is the separation of internet surfing from other systems such as email in the public service, Lee said. Singaporean government officers can still access the internet, but must do so on a device that is not connected to the internal network.

"Ministers, senior civil servants and half of our public agencies have already started separating their networks. The rest of the agencies are on track to implement it by the middle of next year," he said.

The CSA will work with businesses to help improve their network security and make sure that they protect their customers, he said.

"At the same time, individuals have to stay safe online and practise good cyber hygiene. Be vigilant about potential phishing and suspicious activity, keep our machines secure, avoid being infected by malware, or worse spreading malware to other machines," Lee said.

SingPass, the login system for government services, now uses two-factor identification to protect users, Lee said.

Training programmes are being developed by Singapore's universities and colleges to improve a skills gap in cybersecurity, and the government is also working with industry on training staff he said,

Singapore is also working with other countries, "because cyber attackers do not respect jurisdictions", Lee said.

"We will therefore, strengthen our partnership with ASEAN [the Association of Southeast Asian Nations]. With closer ASEAN integration, we are much more interconnected than before and cybersecurity cooperation will help us to protect our supranational information infrastructures like internet submarine cables and the SWIFT global interbank payments network. It will also support our growth as an ASEAN community," he said.

"Singapore aspires to be a smart nation. But to be a smart nation, we must also be a safe cyber nation. The potential of ICT and digital technologies depends on how much we can trust the internet and cyberspace. We have got to get cybersecurity right," Lee said.