Cyber security vital in Smart Nation push

The move to stop Web access on computers used by public servants is not an attempt to cut off the Government from the Internet. Rather, it is to segregate secure systems from activities like browsing, said Foreign Affairs Minister and Minister-In-Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan in Washington on Thursday.

Responding to a question from The Straits Times about how to reconcile the recent move with the push to be a smart nation, Dr Balakrishnan said the plan has occasionally been misconstrued as an attempt to shut off the Government from the Internet. Instead, he said, it was a necessary step to ensure cyber security and that it is not incompatible with the idea of a smart nation.

"Cyber security is absolutely essential if we are to become a smart nation. You can't have electronic medical records, you can't have financial technology, you can't have large databases with information that could be abused or misused, you can't afford a breach of privacy. So the way I look at it, cyber security is the flip side of the coin of being a smart nation," he said.

He stressed that civil servants do need Internet access and will continue to have it. "Segregation is not the same as cutting off access."

Jeremy Au Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2016, with the headline 'Cyber security vital in Smart Nation push'. Print Edition | Subscribe