Singapore Budget 2020: $1b over next 3 years to shore up cyber and data security capabilities

Singapore's cyber capabilities have been raised significantly, with the setting up of the Cyber Security Agency in 2015 and the passing of the Cybersecurity Act in 2018. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Singapore will set aside $1 billion over the next three years to build up the Government's cyber and data security capabilities, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Tuesday (Feb 18).

This is to safeguard citizens' data and critical information infrastructure systems, he said, with data security being a vital prerequisite and key enabler of Singapore's digital economy.

He said that Singapore must be prepared to deal with cyber threats, as digitalisation becomes more pervasive. Its cyber capabilities have been raised significantly, with the setting up of the Cyber Security Agency (CSA) in 2015 and the passing of the Cybersecurity Act in 2018.

CSA is preparing measures for the next level of cyber security as advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things are adopted, he added.

"All of us, in the Government, enterprises and as individuals, will need to stay vigilant and strengthen our cyber and data security capabilities."

Other than enabling Singapore's digital economy, data security is also key to preserving trust in a digitally connected world, said Mr Heng, who is also Deputy Prime Minister.

The Personal Data Protection Act was enacted in 2012, and the public service has also adopted comprehensive measures to secure and protect citizens' data, he said.

"As we embark on initiatives to realise our Smart Nation ambitions, we must continue to enhance our cyber capabilities," he said, adding that more details of the schemes to address security challenges will be disclosed by the respective ministers.

Security was one of three major long-term challenges Mr Heng flagged in his Budget speech, along with climate change and fiscal sustainability.

Despite the many calls on Singapore's Budget in uncertain times, the country's peace, prosperity and stability cannot be taken for granted, he said. "As a small city-state, we are particularly vulnerable to volatility in our external environment."

"Securing our home remains a high priority in our Budget and must be funded adequately. It is imperative that we continue to invest in our external, internal, cyber and data security to keep Singapore and our families safe and secure," he added.

Noting that diplomacy and deterrence are twin pillars in maintaining Singapore's sovereignty, Mr Heng said the Republic strives to build good relations with neighbours and international partners, and to promote a rules-based world order.

"A strong Singapore Armed Forces supports our diplomatic efforts and ensures that other countries take Singapore seriously. We must be ever ready to defend our interests should negotiations fail.

"We must continue to ensure a credible deterrence, by maintaining our military and technological edge, in a prudent manner that stretches every defence dollar."

Back home, Singapore is committed to protecting safety and its way of life, he said. The Home Team agencies will continue to enhance the operational readiness of their officers, leverage technology, and build partnerships with the community.

"Singaporeans share a strong conviction to look out for each other and to partner the Home Team to prevent and deal with terror threats and crises, through the SGSecure movement."

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