S'pore takes top spot in UN cyber security index

Singapore moved to pole position this year from sixth place in the first Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) in 2015.
Singapore moved to pole position this year from sixth place in the first Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) in 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

Singapore has topped a global cyber security index released by the United Nations, beating other UN member states such as the United States, Australia and France.

The Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) 2017, released on Wednesday, noted that Singapore has "a long history of cyber security initiatives".

"It launched its first cyber security masterplan back in 2005. The Cyber Security Agency (CSA) of Singapore was created in 2015 as a dedicated entity to oversee cyber security and the country issued a comprehensive strategy in 2016," said the report by the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Singapore moved to pole position this year from sixth place in the first GCI, released two years ago. Others in the top 10 include Estonia and Malaysia.

The GCI is a survey that measures the commitment of UN member states to cyber security.

Questions were sent to UN member states on the countries' legal, technical and organisational institutions, their educational and research capacity, and the level of cooperation in terms of partnerships and information-sharing networks.

"Singapore takes cyber security seriously and is committed to protect our cyberspace," said CSA's chief executive, Mr David Koh. "However, against the backdrop of a fast-evolving cyberthreat landscape, there is still much work to be done, and we will continue our work with various stakeholders to build a trusted cyberspace for Singapore."

Independent global cyber security expert Aloysius Cheang said that while Singapore is taking the right steps, a high ranking in the index does not necessarily reflect cyber security readiness.

"The results of the cyber security initiatives are not measured for their effectiveness, but how many of them there are," he said.

Singapore has been making cyber security a priority in recent years. In May, the Government announced that it is pumping as much as $528 million into cyber security spending, which includes a new Government Security Operation Centre to detect cyberthreats.

The moves come against the backdrop of a series of high-profile global cyber attacks over the past two months, such as the WannaCry ransomware attack in May and NotPetya last week.

The UN report also pointed out that while having a coordinated national cyber security strategy is essential, only half of its member states had such a plan. The survey covers all 193 ITU member states, including 59 which did not respond but were invited to validate responses based on research.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore takes top spot in UN cyber security index'. Print Edition | Subscribe