Singapore to spend $30 million over next 5 years to fund new regional cyber security centre

Communications and Information Minister and Minister-in-charge of Cyber security S. Iswaran speaking at the opening of the Asean Ministerial Conference on Cyber Security, on Sept 19, 2018.
Communications and Information Minister and Minister-in-charge of Cyber security S. Iswaran speaking at the opening of the Asean Ministerial Conference on Cyber Security, on Sept 19, 2018.PHOTO: MCI

SINGAPORE - A new centre to train teams of experts who can respond to local and regional cyber-security incidents will be fully funded by the Republic when it is launched in the second quarter of 2019.

Over the next five years, $30 million will be spent funding the Asean-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence to deepen the region's cyber capabilities and enhance its ability to respond to emerging global cyberthreats.

Speaking at the opening of the Asean Ministerial Conference on Cyber Security on Wednesday (Sept 19), Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran said the centre will train national Computer Emergency Response Teams (Certs) in the region.

It will also promote open-source information sharing between such teams of experts who can respond to cyber-security incidents.

The centre is an expansion of 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.

To be located within CSA's premises in Maxwell Road, it will have three key roles.

Besides training Cert teams, it will function as a cyber think-tank and also provide virtual cyber defence training and exercises for all Asean states.

Mr Iswaran, who is also Minister-in-charge of Cyber security, said the centre has to align cyber diplomacy efforts with operational issues.

"We believe that this alignment will facilitate coordination towards a unified Asean perspective, so that we can better secure our collective regional interests at international platforms," he said.

He added that Singapore, together with its international and regional partners, remains firmly committed to an international rules-based order for cyberspace.

This, he said, is built by applying relevant international law to cyberspace, adopting voluntary norms of state behaviour and implementing robust confidence-building measures.

"A rules-based order is key for it gives both small and large states the confidence, predictability and stability that is essential for economic progress, job creation and technology adoption. Ultimately, it will enhance the lives of our citizens," said Mr Iswaran.

"It is also important that the international community abides by the same rules, as our world grows ever more interdependent and interconnected."

For the centre, an international advisory panel will be convened to give advice on proposed programmes, while a separate international committee of experts will develop a five-year training curriculum.

Countries including Australia, Canada and the United States have indicated interest in developing and delivering programmes.

Mr Iswaran said a separate annual training programme will also be introduced by the Cyber Security Agency and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs.

The Singapore-UN Cyber Programme will see director-level representatives for key domains - such as national incident response agencies or foreign ministries from each Asean state - invited to attend cyber policy scenario planning workshops.

The Asean Ministerial Conference on Cyber Security is being held at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre.