Singtel opens cyber-security institute

Dr Yaacob speaking at the opening of Singtel's Cyber Security Institute yesterday. Singapore must keep up its vigilance in cyber security in view of its Smart Nation initiative, he said, but it is not enough to train the troops - those in command mus
Dr Yaacob speaking at the opening of Singtel's Cyber Security Institute yesterday. Singapore must keep up its vigilance in cyber security in view of its Smart Nation initiative, he said, but it is not enough to train the troops - those in command must also be aware of the challenges faced in a digital economy.PHOTO: MATTHIAS HO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Directors, senior management can get training to boost readiness in Web security

Company directors and senior management can now attend training to boost their readiness in the increasingly crucial area of Internet security with the opening of the Cyber Security Institute (CSI).

Set up by Singtel, the CSI will also conduct mock Internet war games for cyber-security professionals to hone their defensive skills.

Mr Bill Chang, Singtel's chief executive officer for group enterprise, said that in the firm's discussions with companies in Singapore, it found that more than 85 per cent do not have cyber-response plans.

Even if they did, the plans were only on paper, he noted, adding that they did not hold drills to ensure the plans were realistic.

In a media briefing, Mr Chang said cyber attacks are no longer just a technical issue.

Firms lose their reputation, their share prices drop and they can face legal suits from customers, he said.

A survey of nearly 1,000 Singaporeans here in February showed that 66 per cent felt companies were not doing enough to prevent data breaches. Forty-four per cent trust companies less today to keep their personal information secure.

Citing the example of American retailer Target, he said it lost its CEO and had to settle in a US$10 million (S$13.5 million) class action suit after a 2013 data breach in which it lost the personal details of more than 100 million consumers.

"It is important for boards and senior management to understand this," he stressed.

The CSI provides a holistic training regimen for firms. "After the training, our industry partners will help them scope out their cyber-security strategies and draw up crisis management plans," he said.

The CSI was opened by Minister- in-charge of Cyber Security Yaacob Ibrahim yesterday.

In his speech at the opening, he said Singapore must keep up its vigilance in cyber security in view of its Smart Nation initiative.

But it is not enough to train the troops, he said. Those in command must also be aware of the challenges we face in a digital economy. "Only then can they make good decisions on how best to protect our critical information infrastructure."

After the opening, he was shown a mock attack on a network. He urged Singtel to conduct a cyber-security briefing for the Cabinet.

Located in Tampines, the 10,000 sq ft CSI allows different teams to act as attackers and defenders. It can simulate intrusions such as a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack, which is an attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources.

Singtel is partnering industry partners such as FireEye, Symantec and Palo Alto Networks to provide the courseware and expertise for the training.

The CSI also contains a huge library of malware, which can be used in the mock cyber games.

Singtel's CSI comes at a time when Singaporeans are worried about how their personal information is collected and protected.

A survey of nearly 1,000 Singaporeans here in February showed that 66 per cent felt companies were not doing enough to prevent data breaches. Forty-four per cent trust companies less today to keep their personal information secure. The survey was conducted by crisis communications team Brunswick.

Frost and Sullivan senior cyber- security adviser Anthony Lim said cyber security is not a question of if or when an attack will happen. "It is how the attack will be managed. The CSI is providing the right training for organisations."

Singtel said the CSI is the largest facility of its kind in Asia. It is the result of a 2014 collaboration with the Economic Development Board for an advance cyber-security centre.

Singtel group CEO Chua Sock Koong said at the opening that the telco has also jointly set up an advanced security operations centre with FireEye. Last year, it acquired Trustwave, which provides managed security services. With the Trustwave acquisition and expansion of its cyber-security strategy, Singtel now has 1,800 cyber-security professionals in 26 countries.

The CSI looks set to lead to more managed security services for Singtel. It did not release any figures, but that business has expanded faster than the industry's growth rate of 10 per cent a year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2016, with the headline 'Singtel opens cyber-security institute'. Print Edition | Subscribe