Temasek's Ensign, US partner launch centre for cyber defence of critical infrastructure

SINGAPORE - Ensign InfoSecurity, which is partly owned by Temasek Holdings, unveiled on Monday (March 18) a joint-venture centre for excellence to protect critical infrastructure against sophisticated cyberattacks.

The new centre - a tie-up between Ensign and US start-up IronNet Cybersecurity - comes soon after the two companies launched a research and development joint venture, dubbed Cyber Analytics, on March 14.

Intelligence-sharing on cyberthreats will be a key strategic focus for the new Singapore-based centre, according to a joint statement from Ensign and IronNet.

The Cyber Analytics centre will combine real-time analysis of "behavioural anomalies" by IronNet with metadata from the telecommunications network of telco StarHub, which owns 40 per cent of Ensign.

This will let Cyber Analytics "connect the dots... and identify stealthy, sophisticated cyber campaigns that would otherwise be challenging for an individual organisation to detect and stop", the firms said.

Meanwhile, the development of regional cybersecurity talent and the exchange of intellectual property and knowledge were named as the two other key strategic thrusts for the centre.

"The cross-pollination of capabilities will enable the centre to perform deep research into areas such as cyber analytics and advanced detection methodologies that will result in the creation of new custom security solutions and services for Singapore and Asia-Pacific," Ensign and IronNet said.

Under the partnership between the two companies, Ensign is the exclusive distributor of IronNet's IronDefense and IronDome solutions in Singapore and some other, unspecified Asia-Pacific markets.

Ensign was set up in late 2018 as a joint venture between national investment firm Temasek and StarHub. It brought together Quann, the cybersecurity arm of Temasek's privatised security force Certis Cisco; StarHub's own cybersecurity centre of excellence; and local cybersecurity services provider Accel Systems & Technologies, which StarHub had bought in 2017.

Its interim chief executive, Yeoh Keat Chuan, who is also managing director of Temasek International's enterprise development group, said in the latest statement: "Without advanced cyber analytics, organisations are blind to emerging threat vectors and can only be reactive to cyberattacks."

He added that the centre will let Ensign and IronNet jointly develop "new data analytics techniques and best practices, and ultimately, help uncover new cyberthreat vectors in this digital world".

Keith Alexander, founder of IronNet, also said that the three strategic focuses for the centre "will help build a joint defence framework" for businesses, industries and governments to work together in defending themselves against advanced and malicious actors in cyberspace.

The Republic recently added "digital defence" as the sixth pillar of its Total Defence ideology, with Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen saying on Feb 14 that "security threats can be real and physical like terrorism or, just as damaging, can come through the cyberworld".

Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary later told Parliament on March 4 that Singapore will take steps to build up its cybersecurity ecosystem, with measures such as accrediting homegrown cybersecurity products and committing to skills training.

"A strong cybersecurity ecosystem will provide expertise and solutions that contribute to a more resilient digital infrastructure," Dr Janil, who is also Senior Minister of State for Transport, said at the time.