Centre for Asean to jointly tackle cyber threats

Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran, speaking at the Asean Ministerial Conference on Cybersecurity yesterday, said the decision to open the new centre stems from Singapore's commitment to supporting regional cyber-capacity building
Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran, speaking at the Asean Ministerial Conference on Cybersecurity yesterday, said the decision to open the new centre stems from Singapore's commitment to supporting regional cyber-capacity building.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

To further Asean's drive in developing regional cyber-security capabilities, Singapore has launched a new centre for Asean member states to work together to conduct research, share knowledge and train to tackle cyber threats.

In the same vein, a new committee to develop an action plan for regional cyber-security efforts will be convened to spell out steps to bolster the online defences of all 10 Asean member states.

Asean, which has been making progress in coordinating and strengthening its cyber efforts, needs to build on this momentum to deepen regional and international partnerships in the cyber-security realm, said Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran yesterday.

The Asean-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence (ASCCE) will spend $30 million over five years to offer policy and technical programmes for its participants. It will, among other things, train national and regional Computer Emergency Response Teams (Certs) and promote open-source information sharing among experts who can respond to cyber-security incidents.

Announcing the launch of the centre at the fourth Asean Ministerial Conference on Cybersecurity at the Shangri-La Hotel, Mr Iswaran, who is also Minister-in-charge of Cyber Security, said the main training centre of the ASCCE will be ready in the second quarter of next year.

This training centre will be located in North Bridge Road in the City Hall area. Mr Iswaran said the ASCCE has already partnered Temasek Polytechnic to start a separate training facility that began operations yesterday.

In a statement, the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore said the ASCCE will engage top international cyber experts, trainers and partners in designing and delivering cyber-security capacity-building programmes.

Mr Iswaran said the decision to open the centre stems from Singapore's commitment to supporting regional cyber-capacity building, amid the increasing danger cyber attackers pose and the development of emerging technologies such as 5G and the Internet of Things.

The Asean-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence will spend $30 million over five years to offer policy and technical programmes for its participants. It will, among other things, train national and regional Computer Emergency Response Teams and promote open-source information sharing among experts who can respond to cyber-security incidents.

He added: "Given our interconnectedness and the transboundary nature of cyber threats, we must strengthen our security and resilience as a region. In other words, we are in this together."

He said that besides building up cyber-security capabilities in the region, Asean member states need to work together and participate in international discussions on cyber security.

The discussions during this year's Asean Ministerial Conference on Cybersecurity picked up from last year's conference, where all Asean countries agreed to subscribe in principle to 11 voluntary norms recommended in the 2015 report of the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security.

This was done in recognition that a rules-based cyberspace would allow economic progress and better living standards.

Asean is the first and only regional group to have subscribed to these norms, said Mr Iswaran, adding that the bloc has been recognised among the international committee for its progressive thinking on cyber security.

 
 
 
 

Speaking at a press conference later about the discussions, he announced that all Asean states had agreed to form a new committee to develop an action plan that will translate these 11 norms into tangible and practical steps for all 10 member states to adopt.

This committee, whose composition and size are yet to be determined, will work for a year and present its plans at the next Asean Ministerial Conference on Cybersecurity.

The plan will study and propose recommendations in specific areas such as Certs cooperation, the protection of critical information infrastructure and mutual help in cyber security.

Earlier in his opening speech, Mr Iswaran noted that while Asean's digital economy continues to flourish, it must be safeguarded by holistic cyber-security efforts that can keep up with the speed at which Asean develops.

"Our efforts to grow the Asean digital economy must be complemented by a robust approach to regional cyber security," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2019, with the headline 'Centre for Asean to jointly tackle cyber threats'. Print Edition | Subscribe