S'pore to spend 10% of IT budget on cyber security

Republic taking lead from Israel, S. Korea; companies should do the same, says Yaacob

Up to 10 per cent of Singapore's information technology budget will be spent on cyber security and the Government is urging private companies to do likewise.

Singapore intends to follow Israel and South Korea's lead, said Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim yesterday.

"Israel stipulates that 8 per cent of its total government IT budget must be allocated to cyber security, while South Korea prescribed 10 per cent. This underscores the utmost importance accorded to cyber security," said Dr Yaacob, who is also the minister in charge of cyber security. He announced this at the opening of the three-day 24th GovernmentWare infocomm security conference, but gave no timeframe for the plans.

The conference is organised by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), a high-level central agency which coordinates public- and private-sector efforts to protect national systems, such as those in the energy and banking sectors, from cyber threats.

Dr Yaacob said the private sector should follow suit, highlighting the need for a substantial cyber security budget as one of the nation's three thrusts to shore up its defences. The second thrust involves developing capabilities in both the public and private sectors.

EARNING CUSTOMER TRUST

Security is at the core of what we are doing. We are dealing with sensitive information like people's addresses and what they order, so it's very important to get a customer's trust.

MR SHAUN CHONG, chief technology officer at logistics company Ninja Van

Towards this end, CSA yesterday signed memoranda of understanding with three companies: Israel-based cyber security company Check Point, American network security company FireEye and home- grown telco Singtel.

CSA will work with Singtel to develop security systems, as well as to train and certify cyber security professionals here. Check Point will bring its technologies and cyber security skills to Singapore, while FireEye will facilitate information-sharing on cyber crime. CSA chief executive David Koh said achieving competence in cyber security is not the job of the Government alone.

CSA will establish a Cyber Security Associates and Technologists Programme with the Infocomm Development Authority to equip graduates and IT professionals here with relevant cyber security skills.

The third thrust is to build a vibrant cyber security ecosystem here through common certification and standards, said Dr Yaacob.

Mr Shaun Chong, chief technology officer at logistics company Ninja Van, said the 8 to 10 per cent figure that Dr Yaacob proposed is reasonable. His company spends 10 to 15 per cent of its budget on it.

"Security is at the core of what we are doing. We are dealing with sensitive information like people's addresses and what they order, so it's very important to get a customer's trust," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2015, with the headline 'S'pore to spend 10% of IT budget on cyber security'. Print Edition | Subscribe