Move to delink computers from Internet pays off

There was an uproar last year when it was announced that civil servants' computers would be delinked from the Internet.

Many commentators decried it as backward, regressive and out-of-touch with the push towards becoming a Smart Nation.

Now, it seems this decision has been justified (Hackers steal data of 850 NSmen and Mindef staff; March 1).

The fact that the hackers could get into only an external-facing system, and no further into the Ministry of Defence's infrastructure, illustrates the wisdom of separating systems containing classified information from other publicly accessible networks.

The breach could have been much worse had Mindef bowed to society's "convenience first" mentality.

It should be applauded for minimising the damage and keeping sensitive information vital to the safety and security of Singapore out of the hands of hackers.

In today's environment, where nations are upping their cyber-warfare activities and capabilities, Singapore is a target.

As an IT security practitioner, all too often I see weaknesses and vulnerabilities introduced into systems and networks due to the unfettered pursuit of convenience and accessibility.

However, IT and information security have always been diametrically opposed to convenience.

In fact, the more convenience afforded by a system, the more inherently insecure it is.

Julian Ho

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2017, with the headline 'Move to delink computers from Internet pays off'. Print Edition | Subscribe