New government team to look into cyber security in 5G and telecoms sector

The Telecoms Cybersecurity Specialist team will be working with the Cyber Security Agency to conduct cyber security vulnerability assessments and exercises, as well as test new technologies, Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran said. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - A specialised team will be formed to look into the security of Singapore's telecoms ecosystem, to bolster its defences against attackers and prepare for the roll-out of the 5G network.

This Telecoms Cybersecurity Specialist team will be working with the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) to conduct cyber-security vulnerability assessments and exercises, as well as test new technologies.

It will be formed within the next few months with staff from the public service, and be housed within the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

This team was announced by the Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran at the ministry's workplan seminar, held on Wednesday (July 10) at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Mr Iswaran said: "The team has to work with CSA and other government agencies, industry partners and telecom operators to make sure that our 5G network is secure by design. In other words, we start thinking about the security of the entire infrastructure ecosystem from the get-go, even before you start the rollout.

"And this is important because the nature of 5G is different. It supports a lot more data flow, a lot more computing on the edge. And essentially, the risks are increased significantly."

In a fact sheet on the same day, the ministry said: "As a start, the team will focus on 5G. The specialist team will look to strengthen the resilience and cyber security of other aspects of Singapore's digital connectivity infrastructure in subsequent phases."

5G connectivity, which will be rolled out in Singapore next year, will result in faster mobile data speeds; eventually up to 100 times quicker than those of 4G, letting people download full-length movies in seconds.

At work, the trend will be greater automation of tasks and digital connectivity, driving a new wave of productivity gains for some industries. Analyst firm IHS Markit estimated that 5G will drive an extra US$12 trillion (S$16.27 trillion) of annual sales in 2035.

Last month, Mr Iswaran announced that a $40 million fund had been set up to accelerate the development of next-frontier 5G applications to support Singapore's ambition to lead in the global digital economy.

Mr Iswaran also said Singapore has been selected, for the first time, to be a member of a high-level panel in the United Nations that will work on issues relating to cyber security.

The United Nations Groups of Governmental Experts (UNGGE) will deliberate on cyber-security issues and propose norms on responsible state behaviour in cyberspace, he said.

Elaborating, the ministry said the chief executive of CSA David Koh will be Singapore's representative and that the first UNGGE meeting will be held in December.

It added: "This will allow Singapore to contribute actively to the development of cooperative measures aimed at developing a safe and secure international cyberspace, in continuation with Singapore's own efforts to strengthen our domestic cyber security as well as our regional efforts to enhance cyber security in Asean."

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