Government e-services will not be affected by move to delink Internet access: Cyber Security Agency chief

The head of Singapore's Cyber Security Agency said that government e-services would not be affected and that public servants will still be able to respond to queries from citizens. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - Government e-services will not be affected and public servants will still be able to respond to queries from citizens, said David Koh, chief executive of Singapore's Cyber Security Agency.

He was speaking to the media late Thursday (June 9) to address concerns from the public that government services would be affected following a decision to disallow Web surfing on the work computers of public servants from next May.

An online frenzy ensued after new broke on Wednesday that the 100,000 computers used by the public service would not have direct Internet access to keep work e-mail and shared documents safe.

Web surfing will still be allowed but only on employees' personal mobile devices. Non-sensitive e-mail can also be forwarded to personal accounts. Dedicated Internet terminals will be issued to those who need them for work..

Some criticised the Government for being backward while others made fun of the move memes such as a picture of a lady searching paper file cabinets as the way civil servants would work in the future.

Mr Koh spoke at length about why the Internet lockdown is necessary to keep citizen data safe.

"Cyber security is key enabler for smart nation. We can't be a smart nation that is trusted and resilient if our systems are open and vulnerable," he said.

However, he said that Singapore is under constant attack by cyber criminals, gangs, hacktivists and even state actors.

So it is crucial to hive off Internet surfing to other machines that do not have access to the Government's internal networks and systems.

"This move of Internet surfing separation will significantly reduce the attack surface and make it harder for attackers to exploit our systems," he said.

"As public servants, we have a duty and responsibility to protect the government and the citizens' information and data," he added.

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