Asean framework on cyber security in the works

Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said at the Asean Ministerial Conference on Cybersecurity that the 10 Asean members have agreed on a rules-based approach to cyber security.
Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said at the Asean Ministerial Conference on Cybersecurity that the 10 Asean members have agreed on a rules-based approach to cyber security.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

S'pore to also spend $30m over 5 years on centre to improve region's cyber capabilities

Asean will work towards a rules-based international framework on cyber security, and Singapore will continue to lead efforts to bolster the region's cyber defences, said Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran.

Chairing the Asean Ministerial Conference on Cybersecurity (AMCC) yesterday, Mr Iswaran, who is also Minister-in-charge of Cyber Security, said all 10 Asean states agree that this rules-based approach would give the region confidence to better deal with cyberthreats.

Recognising that a rules-based cyberspace would allow for economic progress and better living standards, the AMCC also agreed to subscribe in principle to 11 voluntary norms recommended in the 2015 Report of the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security.

"Singapore and all the Asean member states subscribed to the fact that we need a rules-based cyber-security environment, in order to foster confidence and build relationships that can engender mutual trust and effectively deal with challenges," Mr Iswaran added.

The AMCC is a non-formal platform for leaders from Asean member states to discuss what can be done to strengthen cyber security in the region.

According to the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), Asean ministers yesterday noted that Singapore will propose a formal Asean cyber-security mechanism to discuss cyber diplomacy, policy and operational issues.

UNIFIED PERSPECTIVE

We believe that this alignment will facilitate coordination towards a unified Asean perspective, so that we can better secure our collective regional interests at international platforms.

MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION S. ISWARAN, on the need for the Asean-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence to align diplomacy efforts with operational issues.

They were following up on directions given by the Asean leaders at the 32nd Asean Summit in April to better coordinate regional cyber-security efforts.

While this mechanism is being considered, CSA said, AMCC should continue to serve as the interim Asean platform for cyber security.

Addressing the media at the Singapore International Cyber Week press conference at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre where he wrapped up the AMCC, Mr Iswaran said Singapore is committed to lead efforts to deepen Asean's cyber capabilities and enhance the region's ability to respond to emerging global cyber threats.

He held up the recently announced Asean-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence as an example of this.

Over the next five years, Singapore will spend $30 million to fully fund the centre, due to launch in the second quarter of next year.

This centre, said Mr Iswaran, will train national Computer Emergency Response Teams (Certs) in the region.

It will also promote open-source information sharing among such teams of experts who can respond to cyber-security incidents.

To be located in CSA's premises in Maxwell Road, the centre will have three key roles.

Besides training Cert teams, it will function as a cyber think-tank and provide virtual cyber-defence training for all Asean states.

Mr Iswaran said the centre has to align cyber diplomacy efforts with operational issues.

"We believe that this alignment will facilitate coordination towards a unified Asean perspective, so that we can better secure our collective regional interests at international platforms," he said.

Asean will work with global partners beyond the region to study best practices and glean lessons that can be implemented here.

Countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States have indicated interest in developing and delivering programmes for the centre, Mr Iswaran said.

He also announced that a separate annual training programme will be introduced by CSA and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs. The programme will see director-level representatives for key domains being invited to attend cyber-policy scenario planning workshops.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2018, with the headline 'Asean framework on cyber security in the works'. Print Edition | Subscribe