New national action plan to unite Singapore's efforts against cybercrime

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam announced a national workplan to toughen the fight against cybercrime, on July 20, 2016.
Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam announced a national workplan to toughen the fight against cybercrime, on July 20, 2016.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE - A national workplan to toughen Singapore's fight against cybercriminals was announced on Wednesday (July 20) by Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam.

Amid a growing threat of cybercrime worldwide, the National Cybercrime Action Plan will set out a coordinated approach by the Government to detect and disrupt illegal online activities, and create a secure online environment, he said.

"The reality is that the more connected we are, the more vulnerable we become to cybercriminals. It's a growing, evolving threat that does not recognise national borders," he added.

"It goes beyond financial loss to include drug trafficking, child pornography and many other illegal activities. So what we have seen is just the tip of the iceberg and cybercrime will only grow around the world."

Mr Shanmugam was speaking at the opening of the RSA Conference 2016 Asia Pacific and Japan held at Marina Bay Sands Expo, where hundreds of regional experts in information security will be expected to gather over three days.

A key tenet of the plan will be to educate the public, especially vulnerable groups such as students and the elderly, to stay safe in cyberspace.

It includes a revamp of the police's Scam Alert website into a one-stop self-help portal that will be live from Wednesday (July 20). It will contain information on the latest scams and links to major online e-commerce platforms for the public to get assistance.

Upcoming plans will also include strengthening industry and academic partnerships here and overseas. For instance, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is currently working with the private sector to develop customised malware analysis tools. This will enable cybercrime investigators to carry out case assessments effectively.

A new initiative between the MHA and Temasek Polytechnic called the Temasek Advanced Learning, Nurturing and Testing Laboratory (Talent Lab) will also allow students to develop and test innovations in cybersecurity.

Law enforcement agencies will also tap on technology to enhance investigation capabilities as well as train officers to handle sensitive data to combat cybercrime. The Digital Evidence Search Tool, which is developed by the police, will be able to automatically process huge amounts of data for digital evidence.

The ministry will also expand the curriculum in its Cyber Security Lab facility to cover topics such as digital forensics and malware analysis.

To ensure that laws remain relevant in dealing with traditional crime committed in the digital world, the criminal justice framework will also be strengthened. This will include amending the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act.