10 suppliers to provide Web, storage devices for civil servants

The move to delink public servants' work computers from the Internet was first reported last June.
The move to delink public servants' work computers from the Internet was first reported last June.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Supply will help meet May deadline to delink work computers from the Internet

Ten companies, including PC maker Acer Computer and local retailer Newstead Technologies, will supply the Singapore Government with Internet surfing and storage devices to meet the May deadline to separate Internet access from the work computers of public servants.

An undisclosed number of Chromebooks and Windows-based computers ranging in size from 11 inches to 14 inches will be supplied for between $295 and $400 apiece. These machines, designed to be used while connected to the Internet, will be distributed to "a segment" of public servants so they can surf the Web without exposing their work computers to security threats.

The Government Technology Agency (GovTech), which awarded the tender, would not divulge the budget for the project, and said only that public servants whose work requires Internet access would be issued the devices.

The agency is behind the move to delink 143,000 work computers of public servants from the Web.

In the same tender, GovTech also called for the supply of encrypted portable storage devices of up to 256GB in capacity.

The suppliers include local security software firm PCS Security and computer distributor Sapura Synergy Singapore. A GovTech spokesman told The Straits Times: "These suppliers were awarded as they provided the best value for money." The tender, which closed in October, attracted bids from 19 companies.

The move to delink public servants' work computers from the Internet was first reported last June.

When the move takes full effect in May across the public sector, public servants will still be able to access the Web via separate notebooks dedicated to that purpose, or their personal mobile devices.

But their work computers, where they access their e-mail, will not have Internet surfing capabilities.

The aim is to create an "air gap" between the Web and government systems so malware will not find its way in and bring down critical systems. It also means highly classified work e-mails and files will not end up in unsecured Internet devices.

Cyber Security Agency chief executive David Koh had said that there were limitations in even the latest technologies against new threats. Specifically, 16 attacks against the Government's networks over the past year made it past firewall systems. The malware was eventually extracted with no damage done.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2017, with the headline '10 suppliers to provide Web, storage devices for civil servants'. Print Edition | Subscribe