New cyber security centre to boost Asean's capabilities

Singapore move will enhance region's ability to tackle global cyberthreats

With cyber attacks mounting, Singapore is expanding its programme to deepen Asean's cyber capabilities and enhance the region's ability to respond to emerging global cyberthreats.

Announcing this yesterday at the opening of the third annual Singapore International Cyber Week, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said the Republic will set up an Asean-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence to strengthen Asean members' cyber strategy development, legislation and research capabilities.

The centre will expand on the existing Asean Cyber Capacity Programme, a $10 million investment that Singapore made in 2016 to build cyber capabilities for officials from Asean member states, involving governments, industry and academic partners.

The centre will also train national Computer Emergency Response Teams (Certs) in the region, and promote Cert-to-Cert open-source information sharing.

"Cyberthreats are global threats. No country can tackle these emerging cyberthreats on its own.

"We need to work together to strengthen our collective resilience against such threats," said Mr Teo, who is also the Coordinating Minister for National Security.

Emphasising that cyber attacks are no longer a question of if, but when, he said Singapore suffered its worst data breach in July, when an advanced persistent threat group attacked healthcare group SingHealth and stole the private data of 1.5 million patients.

At the national level, Mr Teo said that Singapore is continuing to strengthen its cyber security capabilities. Besides introducing a cyber security law, it has accelerated efforts to build up the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), and has worked closely with critical information infrastructure owners to strengthen their cyber defences.

To help identify the Government's cyber blind spots and benchmark its defences against skilled global hackers, a Government Bug Bounty Programme will be launched at the end of this year. Local and international ethical computer hackers and experts, known as "white-hat hackers", will be invited to test selected, Internet-facing government systems and identify vulnerabilities.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, speaking at the opening of the third annual Singapore International Cyber Week yesterday, stressed that cyber attacks are no longer a question of if, but when, and said the Republic is continuing to strengthen its
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, speaking at the opening of the third annual Singapore International Cyber Week yesterday, stressed that cyber attacks are no longer a question of if, but when, and said the Republic is continuing to strengthen its cyber security capabilities. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

COLLECTIVE EFFORT

Cyberthreats are global threats. No country can tackle these emerging cyberthreats on its own. We need to work together to strengthen our collective resilience against such threats.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER TEO CHEE HEAN

The Ministry of Defence had organised a smaller-scale bug bounty exercise in December last year, where 264 white-hat hackers were invited to find vulnerabilities in eight of Mindef's Web-facing systems.

It paid out US$14,750 ($20,200) in bounties to 17 successful hackers.

This week, the CSA will also put out an industry call for innovation, which will see cyber security companies submitting proposals to the agency to match the cyber needs of five large-scale organisations, namely Ascendas-Singbridge Group, PacificLight Power, Singapore LNG Corporation, Singapore Press Holdings and SMRT Corporation.

In a release yesterday, the CSA said proposals for this call must be submitted before Dec 18 and should be ready for testing and deployment within a year.

Cyber security companies with shortlisted proposals will be invited to discuss their ideas with the participating organisations.

Selected solutions that fulfil the eligibility criteria may also be awarded with proof-of-concept (POC) funding of up to $500,000 under CSA's Co-innovation and Development POC Scheme, the agency added.

Held at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, the Singapore International Cyber Week runs until tomorrow.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2018, with the headline 'New cyber security centre to boost Asean's capabilities'. Print Edition | Subscribe