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Singapore Centre to promote ASEAN’s Cyber Capabilities and Response

Singapore Centre to promote ASEAN’s Cyber Capabilities and Response

SINGAPORE – Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean of Singapore announced on September 18 that his country will set up an Asean-Singapore Cyber-Security Centre of Excellence to strengthen Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members’ cyber strategy development, legislation and research capabilities.

According to a report by Straits Times “with cyber-attacks mounting, Singapore is expanding its Programme to deepen Asean’s cyber capabilities and enhance the region’s ability to respond to emerging global cyber-threats.”

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean announced the decision to open a Cyber-Security Centre at the opening of the third annual Singapore International Cyber Week event.

According to reports, the Centre will expand on the existing Asean Cyber Capacity Programme, a $10 million investment that Singapore made in 2016 to build cyber capabilities for officials from Asean member states, involving governments, industry and academic partners.

The centre will also train national Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) in the region, and promote CERT-to-CERT open-source information sharing.

“Cyber-threats are global threats. No country can tackle these emerging cyber-threats on its own… we need to work together to strengthen our collective resilience against such threats,” Mr Teo, who is also the Coordinating Minister for National Security was further quoted as saying.

Emphasizing that cyber-attacks are no longer a question of if, but when, he said Singapore suffered its worst data breach in July when an advanced persistent threat group attacked healthcare group SingHealth and stole the private data of 1.5 million patients.

At the national level, Mr Teo said Singapore is continuing to strengthen its cyber-security capabilities. According to Straits Times Singapore has recently introduced a Cyber-security Law, building up the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), and has worked closely with Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) owners to strengthen their cyber defences.

To help identify the Government’s cyber-blind spots and benchmark its defences against skilled global hackers, a Government Bug

Bounty Programme is expected to be at the end of this year. Local and international ethical computer hackers and experts, known as “white-hat hackers”, will be invited to test selected, Internet-facing government systems and identify vulnerabilities.

Singapore Ministry of Defence (Mindef) had organised a smaller scale bug bounty exercise last December where 264 white-hat hackers were invited to find vulnerabilities in eight of Mindef’s web-facing systems. It paid out US$14,750 (S$20,000) in bounties to 17 successful hackers.

At Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, the Singapore International Cyber Week was attended by regional and internal leaders and experts.

According to experts, a cyber-attack can happen anywhere, but there are obvious points in users’ networks that are easily exploitable.

Email as a point of entry

As the primary form of business communication, email is often used by cybercriminals as a vehicle to carry out malicious software and programs. Every day, email accounts are flooded with spams, most of which are encrypted with viruses and malware, and when opened or clicked by unsuspecting users, paving the way for hackers to gain access into the corporate network.

The Internet gateway

Much of today’s business transactions are done via the Internet. It is the gateway to limitless business opportunities, but where your network links to the internet are probably the weakest and most vulnerable part of your IT infrastructure. It is here where viruses enter your internal network. These links are considered one of the primary target points of most cybercriminals.

(This report was compiled by Pakistan Press Agency from a write-up filed by Hariz Baharudin in The Straits Times, Singapore. The main photo credited to Straits Times & Image by AFP).

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