Stand fast against cyber malice

The recent ransomware attacks are a stark reminder of Singapore's vulnerabilities as the world becomes more interconnected (Cyber attack fallout grows but S'pore dodges bullet; May 16).

Every day, more agencies use the Internet and online solutions as physical archiving space becomes a precious commodity.

Computers are used to run our public transport, and now there is even talk of using remote means to control planes as they land at our airport (Changi gets ready for remote handling of flights; May 2).

Hospitals are also turning to paperless methods to keep their records.

Computer-based solutions are actually a good thing, and we certainly do not want to let such incidents deter us from becoming more efficient.

But before we throw everything onto the Net, we must institute the right safety nets.

We must retain a secondary means to control and retrieve whatever data we intend to put online.

No agency should pretend that it is immune to attacks. Everyone should have a tried and tested backup plan that can be implemented swiftly.

We must train and retain enough staff in every organisation who are equipped to fight such Internet attacks.

There must be fail-safes and redundancies, even if these cost money.

With terrorism evolving, we no longer worry only about bombs and physical attacks. The next wave could well be cyber attacks on key utilities.

Prevention is good, but we should acknowledge that these online attackers are constantly plotting and we cannot afford to rest on our laurels.

Peter Loon Seng Chee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2017, with the headline 'Stand fast against cyber malice'. Print Edition | Subscribe