Asean members should cooperate to fight full spectrum of cyber threats: Yaacob Ibrahim

A visitor wears virtual reality goggles at the FireEye booth during the Singapore International Cyber Week 2016. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Government wants to intensify Asean-wide cooperation to build a stronger cyberspace commons in a region where governments are vulnerable to a spectrum of cyber attacks, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said on Tuesday (Oct 11).

Speaking at the first Asean ministerial conference on cyber security at the Shangri-la Hotel, Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister-in-charge of cyber security, identified three areas where the group of 10 countries should focus its efforts in order to fight the "full spectrum of cyber threats - cybercrime, espionage and other malicious activities".

The ministerial conference took place one day after the Government launched its National Cybersecurity Strategy, a wide-ranging document that maps Singapore's efforts to secure its online space.

The first is cyber capacity building so that Asean member states can deepen its capacity to fight malicious cyber activity.

This is crucial as a joint Singtel-FireEye study found that South-east Asian governments are more likely to be targeted for attack than other organisations.

"Attack targets could range from financial to data theft, reputation as damage, and also disruption to our critical information infrastructure," he said.

To this end, Dr Yaacob launched a new $10 million Asean Cyber Capacity Programme, which Singapore will channel towards honing the technical skills and incident response capabilities of fellow Asean countries.

"The money will pay for resources, expertise and training so that we will be equipped to drive and take ownership of the cyber security agenda in our respective countries," he said.

Second, Dr Yaacob urged Asean members to tap into global efforts to build a trusted cyberspace, such as through international law enforcement efforts like the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) that is based in Singapore.

"Countries have to actively support the IGCI for its continued success and effectiveness," he said.

"We can support the IGCI by seconding more Asean law enforcement officers to the IGCI. By partnering Interpol, we can conduct more joint operations against cyber criminals and enhance the collective safety and security of Asean."

Singapore will also contribute $900,000 to the CyberGreen global initiative that provides tools for a country to measure its level of cyber health, announced Dr Yaacob.

With this sponsorship, all Asean member countries will be able to access the CyberGreen platform through Singapore for free and be able to better identify different levels of threats and ways to counter them.

Third, Asean has to start a dialogue on cyber norms, and work towards developing a set of regional cyber norms.

"Cyber capacity building, cyberspace awareness, and cyber norms: these are three suggestions to Asean for enhancing cyber security cooperation," said Dr Yaacob.

"Singapore is committed to these ideas, and we are backing our words with resources and investment."

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