PM Lee: Asean nations must work together to combat cyber threats

Asean nations must cooperate to strengthen their defences against hackers, which threatened several member states in the past two weeks, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Nov 14, 2013. -- ST FILE PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Asean nations must cooperate to strengthen their defences against hackers, which threatened several member states in the past two weeks, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Nov 14, 2013. -- ST FILE PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Asean nations must cooperate to strengthen their defences against hackers, which threatened several member states in the past two weeks, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said today.

"We must not condone such malicious and harmful behaviour," he said, at the opening of the13th Asean Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers Meeting (Telmin). The annual meeting promotes regional cooperation in infocomm efforts to strengthen regional economies and social development.

Hackers compromised websites in Thailand, Philippines and Singapore over the past two weeks. Malaysia and Indonesia were also targets previously.

"We must strengthen our defences and cooperate to deal with these common threats," he said.

Singapore has arrested some of the people suspected in connection to the hacking incidents in Singapore. Condemning these acts as a crime, PM Lee said: "It is not a prank when someone hacks websites and intrudes into computer systems... At a minimum it inconveniences the public, but potentially it has much graver consequences; it can damage infrastructure and endanger lives."

This happens when the electricity grid or a hospital management system fails to work. He also urged citizens to speak up against such acts, and express their clear disapproval of those responsible, or others who have supported or encouraged the perpetrators.

In his opening address, PM Lee also touched on the need for Asean countries to "accelerate" the harmonisation of airwaves in the 700MHz band, currently used for TV broadcasting, so they can be recycled for mobile broadband purposes.

By agreeing on a common spectrum, regional mobile roaming can take place and there will be minimal signal interference at the coast lines.

So far, four out of eight Asean member nations - Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore - have committed to the plan to use the 700MHz spectrum, expected to be freed up when the switch from analogue to digital TV broadcasting takes place over the next few years.