A second outage in two days to hit SingPass and CorpPass yesterday prompted some IT professionals to express concerns about the robustness of the gateway systems and the impact on the new national digital identity (NDI) system.
The NDI phone app is layered on SingPass. When introduced, it will give Singapore citizens a unique digital identity and authentication to perform secure paperless transactions.
Yesterday, access to SingPass and CorpPass slowed to a crawl for about four hours, the day after a six-hour outage disrupted hundreds of essential e-government services in Singapore. Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech), the agency in charge of the maintenance of SingPass and CorpPass, said the outages were not due to a cyber attack.
"We are conducting a thorough review and implementing further measures to minimise any service disruption," a spokesman said, noting that the incidents were caused by a "server fault". The faulty hardware has since been removed.
Mr John Lee, president of a global association of information security and governance professionals - Isaca (Singapore Chapter) - said that authentication systems must be robust with sufficient redundancies.
"The root cause of the outages must be studied and addressed quickly. The outages will undermine the confidence of the public and the trust in the system and future projects such as the NDI."
Mr Mike Ang, president of the Association of Telecommunications Industry of Singapore, agreed, saying: "A national authentication system must be fail-safe."
Yesterday, users started reporting problems accessing their income tax accounts and other government services as early as 11am. Some were greeted with error messages, while others faced delays loading their SingPass and CorpPass accounts.
Businessman Lim Kuan Sai, 52, told The Straits Times that he was trying to file his income tax in the morning but could not get through.
Human resources manager Mikki Toh, 29, said she could not file employees' Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions on Thursday and yesterday.
"If the system is still not up by Feb 14, my company will be considered late in submitting employees' CPF and will be fined," she said.
She also urgently needed to cancel the work permit of a foreign worker who had left her company so that she can discontinue paying the levy.
Similarly, quantity surveyor Eddision Tan, 26, urgently needed to renew the work permit of a foreign worker to avoid paying a late charge of $100.
He said he also needed to settle the CPF contributions of 24 employees before going on Chinese New Year leave from next Tuesday. He risks a fine by the authorities for late contributions.
GovTech said in a Facebook post yesterday that services were restored at 3.15pm.
Set up in 2003 for Singapore residents to access e-government services, SingPass has more than 3.3 million registered users and supports 57 million e-government transactions, including the filing of income taxes, parking fine payments and foreign domestic worker applications.
CorpPass, rolled out in September 2016, is meant for corporate transactions, including the filing of corporate taxes and work permit applications.