The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore organised the 15th annual ASEAN Computer Emergency Response Team Incident Drill (ACID) last week on 7 October 2020. This was held alongside the fifth Singapore International Cyber Week.
Hosted by Singapore since 2006, the Incident Drills test incident response procedures and strengthens cybersecurity preparedness and cooperation among Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) in ASEAN Member States and Partners.
Malware Campaign Leveraging the Pandemic Situation
This year’s theme, “Malware Campaign Leveraging the Pandemic Situation”, was chosen in view of the rapid increase of malicious campaigns leveraging the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic across multiple sectors, in many countries in the earlier part of the year.
During a brief pre-drill dialogue, the participants also agreed that it was an opportune time to raise awareness and preparedness against opportunistic campaigns.
The scenario injects are based on the Emotet malware campaign, given its prevalence, and the range of cybersecurity events that may occur following a successful Emotet malware infection.
Computer Emergency Response Teams from all of ASEAN represented
All the Computer Emergency Response Teams from the 10 ASEAN Member States and five key Dialogue Partners from Australia, China, India, Japan, and South Korea, were represented this year.
They were required to investigate, analyse, and recommend remediation and mitigation measures to a series of scenarios injects with varying levels of complexity. The drill this year was well-received and the participating Computer Emergency Response Teams provided positive feedback.
Leading the exercise is Ms Goh Yan Kim, Deputy Director, SingCERT, CSA. Ms Goh said, “With the pandemic resulting in a heavier reliance on the internet, cybersecurity is now more important than ever. These exercises are essential to foster trust and preparedness among CERTs in ASEAN and our Dialogue Partners to respond to current and emerging threats. We look forward to conducting more of these exercises in future.”
The Assurance, Care and Engagement (ACE) Group, in partnership with the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group, the Building and Construction Authority, the Economic Development Board and industry partners such as The Singapore Contractors Association, will be distributing more than 450,000 contact-tracing devices to all migrant and local workers living or working in dormitories, as well as those in the Construction, Marine Shipyard and Process sectors.
The distribution of the devices will be carried out in phases from 18 October 2020 and is expected to be completed by early November 2020.
Contract Tracing Devices purpose built for worksite environments
The contact-tracing devices, BluePass tokens, are purpose-built for the dormitory and worksite environment. They are compact and water-resistant, and can be worn at all times.
They will be interoperable with and complement the use of the TraceTogether app on migrant workers’ smartphones, as some workers may not always be carrying their phones at work and at the dormitories.
The ACE Group and sector agencies will trial and evaluate how these tokens function and perform in the rugged work environments, and how the data from the tokens can help improve contact tracing and the quarantine process when new COVID-19 cases are detected.
Tokens will help minimise COVID-19 transmission and work disruptions
This will benefit employers and workers because only close contacts will be isolated, thereby minimising any work disruptions.
Data can also be extracted from the tokens, to assess the extent of intermixing amongst the workers. This can help employers and workers better understand how preventive measures can be taken to minimise intermixing and potential transmission of the virus.
The contact-tracing devices will be distributed with the support of the Forward Assurance and Support Teams to migrant workers living in purpose-built dormitories.
Workers living in other types of accommodation will be issued their devices at Regional Screening Centres for Rostered Routine Tests.
Self-collection points will be set up for workers residing in decant sites and other forms of accommodation. Employers and workers will be informed of the collection dates subsequently.
Photo Credit: www.gov.sg
Enterprise Singapore and the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business (APA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to support enterprise development through industrial and digital transformation in sectors of common interest, including advanced manufacturing, digitalisation and innovation, medical technology and healthcare, and future of mobility.
Under the MOU, Enterprise Singapore and APA will co-organise the refreshed Germany Singapore Business Forum Connect which will feature sector-specific events held throughout the year to facilitate more frequent collaborations between German and Singapore companies.
Mr Peter Ong, Chairman of Enterprise Singapore and Co-Chair of GSBF Connect, said, “In this changing business environment, our enterprises need to connect with one another in more and better ways. Germany and Singapore are trusted partners who place a high emphasis on delivering quality and innovative products and services. The MOU between Enterprise Singapore and APA will cement this commitment to help our companies collaborate and leverage each other’s strengths. I look forward to forging new partnerships with Germany, and welcoming our German friends and partners to join us for the upcoming series of GSBF Connect events.”
Partnerships between Singapore and German companies are expected to grow as both countries deepen business ties through a suite of initiatives. In the last four years alone, the Germany Singapore Business Forum (GSBF) has brought together more than 400 German and Singapore companies.
Platforms such as the GSBF have raised interest amongst Singapore companies to explore opportunities in
Germany, as reflected in the number of business missions to Germany led by Enterprise Singapore which has almost doubled on a year-on-year basis.
The number of business missions to Germany increased from 13 in 2018 to 22 in 2019, benefitting over 150 companies in 2019, across sectors including advanced manufacturing, medical technology and healthcare, future of mobility, and e-sports.
Prof. Axel Stepken, Chairman of the Management Board TÜV SÜD AG and Co-Chair of GSBF Connect, said, “Singapore is attractive to German companies in several ways – as a proven long-term partner with whom new technologies and innovative business models can be developed, but also as an experienced bridge builder into the emerging ASEAN region.
“Singapore has a strong record as a leading R&D hub and digital trendsetter, while German companies are known for their ability to manufacture state-of-the-art machinery and products. I still see many fields and sectors in which we can bring our specific strengths together. With the GSBF Connect, we want to make a relevant contribution to realize these untapped potentials.”
The first edition of GSBF Connect, dedicated to the manufacturing sector, will be held virtually during Industrial Transformation ASIA-PACIFIC 20203 on 21 October. A second edition of GSBF Connect will be held during the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology on 9 December 2020.
Singapore and German SMEs have collaborated in co-innovation projects under the Germany-Singapore SME Funding Programme, jointly managed by Enterprise Singapore, and AiF Projekt GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.
A new partnership between Singapore Polytechnic, German testing, inspection and certification company TÜV SÜD, industrial automation leader Delta Electronics and Singapore’s Smart I4.0 Transformation Alliance (SiTA) was announced on 14 October 2020.
A recent Straits Time survey revealed that 8 in 10 employees in Singapore want to work from home and have more flexibility.
As employee expectations and needs change in the new normal, the necessity to have creative and intelligent digital workspace has become the top priority for all employers. Appreciating the relevance and expedience of this issue, OpenGov Asia hosted an OpenGovLive! Breakfast Insight on 15 October to learn about and explore modern digital workspaces for the new normal.
The session witnessed an overwhelming response from the audience in terms of attendance, diversity and engagement. Comprised of senior public sector digital executives from various Singapore agencies, the attendees were eager to discuss, debate and determine what a digital workspace would look like.
Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia, opened the session by recapping how the world was forced to adapt to new ways of working and how that has fundamentally changed the way organisations – public and private – function.
With the remote working in place, it is important to ensure employees have the necessary access to relevant data and applications from any device at any location at any time. Mohit emphasised that this need to enable broad access to employees across an organisation raises significant security issues. The immediate acknowledgement and feedback from delegates validated this concern.
This issue becomes even significantly magnified in the public sector as they did not get the chance to slow down during the pandemic and, on the contrary, were under greater pressure to continue to deliver existing citizens-services and additional emergency measures as well.
Mohit stressed that it is key is to strike the right balance between making data accessible and keeping it safe. He concluded by advising delegates from public sector industry to partner with the right people, experts in the field, who can make it easier for them to strike the access and safety balance rather than trying to do everything inhouse.
After Mohit’s thought-provoking presentation, Prem Pavan, Area Vice President Sales and Services Asia (ASEAN & Korea), Citrix shared his learnings and experience with the audience.
Prem began by explaining that Citrix as an organisation has been dedicated to enabling digital workspaces that are fully equipped with all employee requirements, irrespective of the physical space they are working from.
He brought out some interesting remote working trends they had observed over the last 6 months. These trends highlighted the conclusion, many had already come to, that remote working was here to stay. Not only because of the current pandemic but because employees are more productive, feel more comfortable at home and do have some hesitancy in coming back to their offices just yet.
Prem also opined that the adaptive workplace with a greater focus on cloud and digital transformation is going to be the new norm for organisations across the board – in both the public and the private sector. Additionally, existing physical workplaces will undergo fundamental infrastructural changes in terms of seating plans, desk space and collaborative common areas.
Although remote working is set to become the new norm, it is not without its own set of challenges. The biggest of these is enabling secure access to various data and applications to employees using different devices from different locations at different times.
Prem reiterated the need to nail the act of balancing security, productivity and competitive differentiation. In closing, he offered Citrix’s full support to all public sector organisations in their digital workspace journeys.
After Prem’s informative presentation, Lynn Warneke, Corporate Operations Director and Chief Information Officer at the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) at Victoria shared her thoughts on the topic.
Lynn began by revealing to the audience that she was a true believer in the digitisation of citizen experience by digitally empowering the staff in the public sector and had done this when she joined the DPC two years ago.
Her goal was to enable a high-performance DPC through a collaborative and personalised staff experience enabled by flexible workspaces and premium digital tools and processes underpinned by effective services and solutions.
The first step towards achieving this goal was strategy formulation that rested on four pillars:
- Strengthening Foundations
- Maturing Operations
- Partnering in Reform
- Transforming Experience
The second step included initiating a program, IGNITE, that would help combine the physical, the digital, and the people transform their physical environment, introduce new digital platforms and tools and assist the workforce to move to new ways of working.
Lynn shared the outcomes of strategising and implementing the above-mentioned program which includes:
- Improved collaboration
- Easier communication
- Stronger engagement and improved connection for distributed staff
- Enhanced individual and team flexibility
- Higher productivity
Lynn concluded on a positive note by highlighting the silverling that has emerged out of the dark cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic. This silver lining is the realisation that digital transformation can genuinely enhance organisations’ capability to deliver and can be implemented over a short span of time.
After Lynn, D.N. Prasad, Senior Director, Strategy, People, and Organisation from Government Technology Agency of Singapore spoke about some of his learnings.
Prasad started by emphasising the importance of people as the most valuable resource in today’s world; and since their wellbeing is the responsibility of senior leaders in any organisation, the onus on leaders is high.
He felt that the world is still in the process of learning and adapting to the new normal which he called the “current normal” which seems to change every day.
Prasad suggested the best way for organisations to go through this dynamic time to prioritise people, leadership and culture. In addition, it is important to understand that the workplace is undergoing fundamental changes. The future workspace will have social (digital/virtual) collaboration at its core rather than a designated physical place.
Like Lynn, Prasad advised the delegates to look at the positive side that has emerged out of the crisis. It includes better focus and decision making in companies, more willingness to innovate, more agile work culture and better customer solutions.
He concluded by sharing some call to action points for the leaders in organisations:
- Have a more holistic rather than individualistic approach
- Drive continuous change in the organisation
- Be the role models for others to follow
After the information presentations, the programme moved into the interactive polling session.
On the first question regarding initiatives that are of highest priority in the current times, the delegates seemed equally split amongst all four options with a slightly higher inclination towards technology simplification (32%).
A senior delegate from a media company reflected that for him, understanding and motivating employees working remotely is the biggest challenge. It’s hard to encourage the employees to collaborate and coordinate when you have no physical contact with them.
On the next question about being well equipped to support a fully remote workforce, a major chunk of the delegates voted that they have all the tools required to allow remote work seamlessly (48%).
To this, a delegate from the National Library Board reflected that he voted for not fully supportive of the remote working because even though the employees have all the tools and technology they require to work from home, the problem is a loss of a personal connection; no tool or technology can help establish that connection.
On the final question of the biggest security challenge faced by organisations with a remote workforce, a majority of the audience voted for lack of robust tools to proactively detect malicious user-behaviour (40%).
An executive from the telecom industry shared that she voted for endpoint management because, with the flexibility to work remotely, employees are bringing in a number of their own devices that leads to major security issues and concerns. She also shared that this is not a challenge for their organisation currently, but they are putting in a lot of effort to avoid it.
The session concluded with closing remarks from Prem. He thanked all the delegates and speaker for joining the session and sharing their insights and feedback.
He re-emphasised the importance of people, the need to simplify processes and technology and the vital role of leadership in this process as some of the key takeaways from the session.
In closing, he invited delegates to learn more about this extremely important topic at the upcoming summits and sessions organised by Citrix.
The Australian Government is continuing its campaign against encryption technology when it limits the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate serious crimes. The Minister for Home Affairs signed on to an international statement calling on technology companies to find solutions to enable law enforcement agencies to access encrypted content where authorisation is lawfully issued.
The statement — which was also signed by the governments of the UK, US, New Zealand, Canada, India and Japan — also calls on technology companies to engage in consultation with governments to facilitate legal access to encrypted content. Technology companies have also been asked to embed functions allowing them to act against illegal content and activity effectively with no reduction to safety.
Australia’s participation in the statement follows the government’s introduction of controversial legislation granting the government powers to compel technology companies to facilitate access to encrypted content by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. However, the statement asserts that the signatories “do not support counter-productive and dangerous approaches that would materially weaken or limit security systems”.
It goes on to say that “particular implementations of encryption technology, however, pose significant challenges to public safety, including to highly vulnerable members of our societies. We urge the industry to address our serious concerns where encryption is applied in a way that wholly precludes any legal access to content.”
Many in the industry have insisted that any efforts to facilitate access to encrypted content by unintended viewers of the content will have the effect of fundamentally weakening encryption, exposing legitimate users to a host of privacy and security concerns.
“However, we challenge the assertion that public safety cannot be protected without compromising privacy or cybersecurity,” the statement reads.
“We strongly believe that approaches protecting each of these important values are possible and strive to work with industry to collaborate on mutually agreeable solutions.”
The statement could have far-ranging implications, because while it focuses on end-to-end encryption, the statement asserts that the principles apply “across the range of encrypted services available, including device encryption, custom encrypted applications and encryption across integrated platforms”.
Cybersecurity is a major focus of the Australian government as cyber threats and attacks have multiplied over the last year.
To safeguard against even more cybercrime, the Australian Electoral Commission’s (AEC) ICT systems will be upgraded as part of the federal government’s Economic Recovery Plan for Australia. The upgrades include new systems for control of personnel and logistics and more seamless voter interactions with the AEC.
As part of the 2020–21 Budget, the government is investing $96.7 million over three years to replace and modernise the AEC’s key elections systems, building on funding provided in the 2019–20 Budget.
This investment in ICT upgrades will help ensure the AEC can continue to efficiently run federal elections while improving services for Australian voters. The first stage of upgrades includes improvements to the AEC Contact Centre, including access to additional self-service channels with more online support and a telephone virtual assistant.
The upgrades include temporary election workforce systems, to ensure over 90,000 workers are efficiently deployed at every election, and supply chain management controls, to support rapid production and delivery of materials to polling places and counting centres.
Additionally, coordination capabilities will allow improved monitoring of operations and incidents. Future investments into the AEC’s IT systems will include the replacement of the electoral roll management technology, improvements to data analysis and the decommissioning of legacy systems.
Federal elections are one of Australia’s largest peacetime logistical events, involving a large scale of operations for venue management, staff recruitment and product movements. These events are highly reliant on ICT systems.
A Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) in the field of Cybersecurity between India and Japan is set to be signed and come into effect. The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, has given its approval for signing the MoC in the field of cybersecurity between India and Japan.
Both countries welcomed the finalisation of the text of the cybersecurity agreement that will promote cooperation in key areas such as 5G network and Artificial Intelligence. The announcement on the agreement followed the 13th India-Japan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue between the representative ministers.
The MoC will enhance cooperation in areas of mutual interest in the entire cybersecurity gamut. This will include capacity building in the area of cyberspace and protection of critical infrastructure. It will promote cooperation in capacity building, research and development, security and resilience in the areas of Critical Information Infrastructure, 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), among others.
The countries are committed to cooperation in emerging technologies, sharing information on cybersecurity threats, incidents and malicious cyber activities. The nations will develop and exchange best practices to counter cyber threats and bad actors along with developing joint mechanisms to mitigate cyber risk to critical ICT infrastructure.
India and Japan commit to an open, interoperable, free, fair, secure and reliable cyberspace environment and to promote the Internet as an engine of innovation, economic growth, and trade and commerce that would be consistent with their respective domestic laws and international obligations, and with their wide-ranging strategic partnership.
Both sides, through the MoC, affirm cooperation in the international arena including in the United Nations; discussing and sharing strategies and best practices to promote the integrity of the supply chain of ICT products; strengthening the security of ICT infrastructure through government-to-government and business-to-business cooperation; continuing dialogue and engagement in internet governance fora and to support active participation by all the stakeholders of the two countries in these fora.
The announcement is expected to draw the attention of the stakeholders in the Indian 5G sector as it gets ready to open up for international operators and especially since there is lack of clarity on possible participation of Chinese technology majors in the 5G arena.
India is taking cyber resilience seriously and has initiated measures to address it at all levels. The Home Ministry launched the ‘National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal’, where one can report cybercrime complaints online. It is a dedicated mechanism to resolve cybercrimes. At the national level, a Computer Emergency Response Team is the nodal agency to advise and respond to cybercrimes that are reported all over the country.
Recently, in its “Lockdown Lecture Series” on various issues of social importance, the Nehru Science Centre, organised an online Lecture on Cyber Security. The lecture titled “Understanding Cyber Security” was delivered by Col. Pradeep Bhat (Retd.), Consultant, National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC).
Like physical security, he opined, cybersecurity, too, is based on simple principles and practices which we can understand and imbibe in our daily life. The key elements of any protection framework, be it physical valuables or digital valuables are the same: secure, observe and act.
Earlier this year, handbooks prepared by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on measures taken by the board to adopt value-based global standards of education, were released.
The handbook, ‘Cyber safety – A Handbook for Students of Secondary & Senior Secondary Schools’, is designed to create awareness about cybersecurity among high school students. The booklet is a guide for teenagers who use the internet and other digital platforms frequently who may face a variety of security risks.
Another booklet, ’21st Century Skills: A Handbook’, aims to create wider awareness of 21st-century skills and motivate them to use them in their daily life. The minister releasing the booklets was confident that they would help in developing a better understanding of the cybersecurity, improving efficiency, gaining skills and leadership experience.
Image credit: AP
PM Lee Hsien Loong made a speech at the Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Centre Groundbreaking Ceremony on 13 October 2020, in the presence of Mr Sung Yun-mo, Minister of Trade, Industry & Energy, Republic of Korea and Mr Chung Eui-sun, Executive Vice Chairman, Hyundai.
He opened by mentioning the history Hyundai has with Singapore. “Singapore’s relationship with Hyundai goes back a long way. It started when Hyundai Engineering and Construction (HDEC) helped us reclaim land at Pulau Tekong in 1981, nearly 40 years ago.”
“As for Hyundai Motor the first Hyundai cars appeared on our roads in the mid-1980s.”
“First Facility of its kind in the world”
The Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Centre is the first facility of its kind in the world. It will allow Hyundai to develop new automotive technologies, including the production of electric cars. The new facility will be located in Jurong Innovation District, which already houses a vibrant ecosystem of researchers, technology partners and factories of the future.
The PM added “In fact, you will be neighbours with the NTU Smart Campus, which aims to be a living testbed of tech-enabled solutions like electric vehicles. I hope that this will make it easier for your discussions to bear fruit, and for Singapore technology to power Hyundai cars all over the world.”
The new Innovation Centre will enable Hyundai to pilot new manufacturing models, to meet the demand for mass personalisation of cars through small-scale factories in urban areas. It is an investment of almost $400 million, and may produce up to 30,000 vehicles per year by 2025, five years from now.
Singapore’s drive for autonomous and electric vehicle roll out
Singapore has also been developing plans for autonomous and electric vehicle research and development.
“Singapore’s goal is to have all our vehicles run on cleaner energy by 2040, in line with our Paris Agreement commitments, so that our air is cleaner, and Singaporeans can have a better quality of life. Earlier this year, we announced plans to catalyse Electric Vehicle demand, and to build Electric Vehicle infrastructure like charging points ahead of demand. Now we are taking another step to anchor the value chain here with Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Centre, as the first Electric Vehicle manufacturing facility in Singapore.”
“Automotive activities are becoming viable in Singapore once again. Electric Vehicles have a different supply chain, fewer mechanical parts and more electronics, which plays to Singapore’s strengths. That is why global companies producing automotive electronics like Delphi and Infineon are already in Singapore and have been here for some time.”
“We hope this will open up new growth areas for our economy, and create exciting jobs for Singaporeans, for example Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) engineers, data scientists, cobot technicians and digital supply chain strategists. These job titles did not even exist a few years ago, but these jobs are now on the cutting edge, and demand new skills. Young Singaporeans may not have these skills in the first instance, but they will learn from the engineers that you bring here from Korea and elsewhere in the world, as we did in the past. And over time, I am confident that we will build up a Singaporean workforce with these skills.”
The Prime Minister noted that the HMGICS is an important milestone in the economic relationship between Singapore and South Korea. It will pave the way for more Korean companies to invest in Singapore, partner with local suppliers and SMEs, and collaborate with universities and research institutes.
He added that Government authorities and agencies such as EDB, JTC, ESG and A*STAR will all work closely with Hyundai to support these partnerships. He said that “Hyundai Motor is already in discussions with NTU and A*STAR, for example, to use AI in autonomous driving.”
Imperial College Business School and the Lee Kong Chian School of Business at Singapore Management University (SMU) yesterday launched the Singapore Green Finance Centre (SGFC), Singapore’s first research institute dedicated to green finance research and talent development.
The SGFC is supported by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and nine founding partners: Bank of China Limited, BNP Paribas, Fullerton Fund Management, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Schroders, Standard Chartered Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, and UBS AG.
An advisory board, which includes MAS, both academic institutions, and the nine founding partners, will provide guidance on the strategic direction of the SGFC.
Mr Ravi Menon, Managing Director of MAS, said, “MAS is committed to developing a vibrant green finance research and talent ecosystem in Singapore, to support Asia’s transition to a low carbon future. The SGFC will be an important part of this ecosystem, bringing together two leading academic institutions in environmental science and financial economics. We are especially heartened by the strong industry support for the SGFC, which will be key to its success.”
The SGFC will draw on the respective strengths of Imperial and SMU in climate science, financial economics, and sustainable investing – equipping professionals with new skills and developing a strong pipeline of green finance talent.
Its research and training will enable financial institutions, corporates, and policymakers to improve the management of environmental risks, develop financial solutions to promote environmental sustainability, and design policies for a sustainable future.
Research to support the transition to a low carbon future
The SGFC will pursue research to help develop strategies for policymakers and financial institutions to support Asia’s transition to a low carbon future. The research will be co-created with industry to ensure applicability and relevance, and will cover three key themes:
- transforming businesses by integrating climate-related data and environmental, social & governance (ESG) considerations into decision-making
- designing policies and new initiatives that can improve the efficiency of green finance markets
- catalysing the development of green finance solutions.
To equip professionals with skills in climate finance and applied knowledge in Asian markets, the SGFC will offer an array of courses across various levels – undergraduate, post-graduate, continuing and professional education.
This will develop a strong pipeline of green finance talent which financial institutions and service providers can tap as they expand teams and deepen green finance capabilities to serve the growing needs of Singapore and the region.