Parliament: Laws to be amended to keep up with evolving nature of cybercrime

A stream of binary coding, text or computer processor instructions, is seen displayed on a laptop computer screen.
A stream of binary coding, text or computer processor instructions, is seen displayed on a laptop computer screen.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE - Four key amendments to Singapore's cybercrime laws were tabled in Parliament on Thursday (Mar 9) as the Government strives to keep up with the increasing trans-border nature of cybercrime and the evolving tactics of cybercriminals.

The Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity (Amendment) Bill seeks to criminalise the act of dealing and trading in personal information such as credit card details - even though the trader may not have hacked into computers to obtain them.

The buying and selling of hacking tools such as malware and port scanners in underground online markets will also be an offence if the intention is criminal, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in a statement.

While it is not a crime today if an offence under the existing Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act is committed overseas against an overseas computer, it will be if the amendments are passed.

"This amendment makes this an offence... if the act causes or creates a significant risk of serious harm in Singapore," said the MHA.

Serious harm includes illness, injury or death of individuals, as well as disruptions to essential services in Singapore.

Essential services include energy, water, finance, government, healthcare, information communication and transportation.

Another amendment allows for multiple hacking acts, for instance, to be amalgamated as a single charge to allow for enhanced penalties - especially when the combined acts result in high aggregate damage.

The maximum penalty for an offence under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act ranges from a fine of $5,000 to $100,000, and up 20 years in jail.

The Act was last amended in 2013, and renamed the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act, to grant the Government enhanced powers to counter cyberthreats against Singapore's national security and essential services.