SAF sets up new 'cyber army' to fight digital threats

THE Singapore Armed Forces will bring together its cyber-security experts under a new command to wage digital warfare and beef up its defences against online threats that can cripple the military's computer networks.

Previously, these personnel work independently within the army, navy and air force.

The newly-formed Cyber Defence Operations Hub will allow the SAF to monitor cyber threats round the clock and muster a sharper response to thwart Internet hackers and digital spies.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who announced the launch of the new "cyber army" in an interview ahead of SAF Day on Monday, said it will allow the SAF to better focus on cyberthreats that are "increasing in frequency, potency and create great damage". He said gathering the SAF's current cybersecurity specialists will allow lines of communication to be "cleaned up" so they work with "greater efficiency and accountability".

The SAF's "cyber army" is the first in Southeast Asia, with Indonesia still working to create its own cyber defence force. Other countries such as the United States, China and Korea already have cyber commands.

The spotlight on cybersecurity come amid mounting tensions between the United States and China over claims that the latter has been involved in cyber espionage.

In a wide-ranging interview which also focused on national service, Dr Ng said his ministry is looking into possibly expanding the number of officers or commanders on the ground.

This is to match the aspirations of today's national servicemen. He said he is heartened by their commitment to NS, citing the majority who say they want to be commanders and officers.