All recruits going through basic military training will have to attend an information literacy workshop to teach them how to deal with fake news and deliberate online falsehoods, Senior Minister of State for Defence Maliki Osman said yesterday.
He said that in the current age of the Internet and social media, the resilience of Singaporeans will be tested during digital attacks, as seen in Singapore and other countries, which have resulted in serious consequences.
In his speech during the debate on his ministry's budget, Dr Maliki stressed the need for digital defence, which was added as a pillar to the Total Defence framework last month.
He called the digital front the "new battlefront", because of the reliance on digital techno-logy to communicate and consume information.
"Many of these digital dangers show that complacency, ignorance or negligence on the part of individuals could pave the way for an attack with disastrous consequences," he said, adding that every individual is at the forefront of digital defence.
He also noted that Singapore has one of the highest levels of Internet penetration in the world, and people here spent an average of two hours daily on social media, according to a study conducted by media company We Are Social last year.
While the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) is working with the National Library Board to bring the workshop to recruits, the Singapore Armed Forces and Mindef servicemen and employees will also be taught about hostile information campaigns and fake news.
"We hope that collectively, these efforts will help our servicemen better understand the role of fake news in modern warfare, the steps they can take in response, and strengthen cyber hygiene as a whole," he said.
Dr Maliki cited a 2007 attack on Estonia, which shut down online services of banks, media outlets and the government, and the SingHealth breach in June last year, in which personal details of 1.5 million patients were stolen.
Fake news has also been spread on a range of matters, and false accounts of incidents could inflame xenophobia and communalism and puncture social harmony, he said.
Mindef has been working with other government agencies, said Dr Maliki, as part of a "whole-of-nation" effort against digital threats.