Singapore allocates $1.5m for technical training to boost Asean's cyber readiness

Singapore's Cyber Security Bill requires private and public organisations to report breaches that involve critical infrastructure to the Cybersecurity Agency (CSA).
Singapore's Cyber Security Bill requires private and public organisations to report breaches that involve critical infrastructure to the Cybersecurity Agency (CSA).ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Singapore is setting aside $1.5 million over the next three years to train technical officers in Asean to boost the region's readiness to combat cyber threats.

The effort includes an industrial attachment programme in Singapore, in what Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim said will mark Asean's "move forward as a united and cyber-resilient region".

"Asean will need to address cyber-security challenges to reap the full dividends of our future digital economy," said Dr Yaacob at the opening of the second annual Asean Ministerial Conference on Cybersecurity on Monday (Sept 18) at The St Regis Singapore hotel.

The plan is to train up to 18 candidates from Asean member states in incident detection, threat containment, service recovery and forensics - the work of a security operations centre.

The budget comes from a $10 million initiative, dubbed the Asean Cyber Capacity Programme (ACCP), announced last October when Singapore unveiled its high-level cyber-security strategy. The ACCP is aimed at training technical officers, policymakers and lawyers from Asean member states.

Closer ties are needed because cyber crimes are not confined by geographical boundaries.

Dr Yaacob also called for greater coordination among member states on cyber-security policy building, to project a unified Asean voice on the global stage.

"Singapore is supportive of having basic rules for behaviour in cyberspace and believes that Asean can work together to reach consensus on basic voluntary cyber norms for the region," he said.

One such rule which can be harmonised is mandatory reporting of cyber-security breaches, said security experts.

Singapore's Cyber Security Bill, which Dr Yaacob said will be tabled in Parliament next year, instead of later this year, requires private and public organisations to report breaches that involve critical infrastructure, such as those in the energy, telecommunications or transport sectors, to the Cybersecurity Agency (CSA).

The Bill is part of Singapore's cyber-security strategy, that will see its cyber-security spending increased to 8 per cent of Singapore's yearly infocomm technology (ICT) budget, up from about 5 per cent previously.

CSA will also be signing a memorandum of understanding with the Information Systems Audit and Control Association - a trade body that trains and certifies tech and cyber security professionals - to plug the skills shortage.

"Globally, we are confronted with a pressing problem of a shortage of cyber-security professionals, and the Government cannot grow the cyber-security workforce and the ecosystem alone," said Dr Yaacob.