SINGAPORE - Scanning one’s fingerprint instead of using passwords is one way of overcoming common mistakes people make that compromise the security of systems.
And in the light of the recent SingHealth cyber attack, having biometric identification does make systems safer, Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan said on Tuesday (Oct 9).
He was giving reporters updates on Singapore’s five key Smart Nation projects: a national digital identity, an anticipatory e-citizen service called Moments of Life (Families), e-payments, a sensor network and smart urban mobility.
For instance, after launching Moments of Life (Families) in June this year to allow people to register a child’s birth and receive the baby bonus in a paperless way, the Government is looking to add new services such as when people face deaths in the family.
There will also be trials for on-demand bus services in December, where commuters can request to be picked up via an app – like how they book a private-hire car.
Summarising why Singapore is rolling out these projects, Dr Balakrishnan said: “We want to live in a society that is gracious, sustainable, secure, safe and cohesive, and one that generates good jobs... (These projects) make sure that Singapore stays competitive and relevant in this brave new world.”
Updates on strategic Smart Nation projects
1. SingPass Mobile
The SingPass Mobile app, a key part of a national digital identity, will be rolled out later this month to snuff out unsafe practices such as the sharing and the use of easy-to-guess passwords.
The app will give people access to e-government services by scanning their fingerprint – a more secure mechanism than passwords, which can be manipulated easily. This will also remove the use of physical tokens or SMS passwords.
2. Expanded trial of driverless shuttles in Sentosa
Next year, driverless shuttles will ply a 5km route along Tanjong, Palawan and Siloso beaches. This is an expanded route from an ongoing trial, covering 2km, launched earlier this year. Visitors use their smartphones to hail a ride.
3. Expanded Moments of Life
After launching Moments of Life (Families) in June to allow people to register a child’s birth and receive the baby bonus in a paperless way, the Government is looking to add new services, such as when people face deaths in the family.
4. On-demand buses
There will be trials for on-demand bus services in December, where commuters can request to be picked up via an app – like how they book a private-hire car.
5. Hands-free ticketing
A trial for hands-free ticketing technology on buses will start at the end of this year. This is an expansion of the current trial at fare gates in Bedok, Kembangan, Redhill and Tiong Bahru MRT stations, launched in June.
Using a radio-frequency identification card or an app in a device with Bluetooth turned on, commuters need not tap cards on fare readers. The cards can be kept in a bag or a pocket.
A national digital identity underpins the development of a safe and secure society, he said.
SingPass Mobile is a key component of this digital identity, and the app will be rolled out later this month to snuff out unhygienic practices such as the sharing and the use of unsafe passwords.
The app will give access to e-government services by scanning one’s fingerprint – a more secure mechanism than passwords, which can be spoofed easily.
According to evidence that emerged during the recent public hearing by the Committee of Inquiry looking into the SingHealth cyber attack, hackers got a foot in the door via successful phishing.
It is a common trap that ensnares many Internet users when they unknowingly give away confidential data. But credentials stolen in phishing attacks will be useless when authentication can be done only via biometrics.
Singapore is subject to sophisticated advanced persistent threats - stealthy and continuous computer hacking processes to gain intelligence or steal information. "These are not schoolboys in bedrooms running kiddy scripts," Dr Balakrishnan said.
To ensure security is "baked" into its systems, the Government is radically overhauling existing processes, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced last week (Oct 3) at the inaugural Stack 2018 Developer Conference organised by GovTech.
Specifically, the Government is moving away from allowing individual agencies to build their own e-citizen applications to a more centralised approach that will enable such e-services to be created more efficiently. It will also make a significant migration to cloud technology.