Delinking of Web surfing from computers half completed

 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

Ministers, senior civil servants and half of all the public agencies here have started separating Internet surfing from their work computers to boost the security of critical government systems, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The rest of the agencies are on track to implement the initiative by the middle of next year, PM Lee said yesterday, as he outlined the first pillar of Singapore's cyber security strategy that was launched on the same day.

Similarly, operators of essential services will have to develop robust cyber risk management frameworks and responses, he added.

The move to delink public servants' computers from Web surfing was first reported in June. It is aimed at preventing leaks from work e-mail and shared documents amid heightened security threats.

When the move takes full effect across 100,000 computers, civil servants can still access the Web via separate government computers dedicated to that purpose, or use their personal mobile devices. But their work computers, where they access their e-mail, will not have Internet surfing capabilities.

In adopting this policy, Singapore is preceded by Russia, whose intelligence services in 2013 went back to using typewriters to thwart alleged spying by the United States.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2016, with the headline 'Delinking of Web surfing from computers half completed'. Print Edition | Subscribe