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Singapore’s Efforts to Preserve Trust in a Post-Pandemic Era

Mr Tan Kiat How, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information, at a recent gathering of tech digital executives, addressed the importance of trust and safety in a world that is rapidly moving online.

The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation worldwide, leading to a wider digital ecosystem spanning cloud, IoT, cybersecurity, and more. The shift has helped businesses capture new opportunities and drive growth, especially in a post-pandemic world.

However, this increasingly digital landscape brings with it new threats and challenges, making it imperative for consumers, businesses, and governments to work together to preserve trust in the digital ecosystem.

One of the most significant challenges is ransomware attacks. Ransomware has evolved from a sporadic risk affecting a few systems to a large-scale systemic threat that can disrupt critical infrastructure and essential services and even threaten national security.

In Singapore, 137 ransomware cases were reported to the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore in 2021, a 54% increase from 2020. The cases affected mostly SMEs from sectors such as manufacturing and IT, and more cases may have gone unreported.

Online scams, which are increasingly prevalent, present another front of concern. The Singapore Police Force reported around 7,100 phishing scams in 2021, a 41% spike from 2020, resulting in a loss of SG$51 million in the last two years alone. As scammers become increasingly sophisticated and continually evolve their tactics, raising public awareness and putting in place preventive measures is vital.

Singapore is taking a multi-pronged approach to preserve trust in the digital ecosystem that includes involving enabling regulations, research and innovation and enhancing cybersecurity and data protection capabilities of organisations across all sectors.

Robust regulations are critical to enhancing the security and resilience of digital infrastructure, protecting users in the online space.

In 2018, Singapore passed the Cybersecurity Act, which provides a legal framework to protect critical information infrastructure (CII) that delivers essential services such as water and power. The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore is reviewing the Act to see if the scope of CII needs to be expanded and whether other digital infrastructure and services should be included.

The Online Safety Bill, passed in November 2021, aims to minimise users’ exposure to harmful digital content and equip them with tools to protect themselves online. Designated Social Media Services will need to comply with a Code of Practice for Online Safety, which Singapore expects to implement in H2 2023.

Research and innovation in areas such as AI, cybersecurity, and trust technologies are crucial to growing capabilities and anchoring Singapore as a Trusted Digital Innovation Hub. Singapore has initiated six trust-related research programmes across NTU, NUS, and SMU since 2020. These include applying privacy tech to social media and machine learning, the role of law and ethics in technology, and the use of blockchain in finance.

The Digital Trust Centre, launched last year, leads Singapore’s R&D efforts in trust technologies and supports talent development in this space.

Enhancing the cybersecurity and data protection capabilities of companies is also essential. Singapore launched the Cyber Trust and Cyber Essentials marks in 2021 to recognise companies that have implemented good cybersecurity practices and measures to address their cybersecurity risks. These certifications provide greater assurance to firms and consumers alike, fostering greater trust in the digital economy.

Singapore is refreshing Industry Digital Plans (IDPs) to incorporate a roadmap on Cybersecurity and Data Protection measures, helping companies identify and adopt suitable tools and practices to safeguard their systems.

The country also recognises the importance of global cooperation to preserve trust in the digital ecosystem. It has been pursuing Digital Economy Agreements (DEAs) with like-minded partners, which align digital rules and standards. The nation led the development of ASEAN Model Contractual Clauses, which facilitate the cross-border transfer of data across the region. The government is also working with partners to promote the APEC Cross Border Privacy Rules globally.

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Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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As a Titanium Black Partner of Dell Technologies, CTC Global Singapore boasts unparalleled access to resources.

Established in 1972, we bring 52 years of experience to the table, solidifying our position as a leading IT solutions provider in Singapore. With over 300 qualified IT professionals, we are dedicated to delivering integrated solutions that empower your organization in key areas such as Automation & AI, Cyber Security, App Modernization & Data Analytics, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Renowned for our consulting expertise and delivering expert IT solutions, CTC Global Singapore has become the preferred IT outsourcing partner for businesses across Singapore.

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SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.