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Cybersecurity Code of Practice for Critical Information Infrastructure in Singapore

Online services and apps that are widely used by consumers and businesses could soon have to comply with government cyber-security rules similar to those that owners of critical information infrastructure (CII), like systems for water plants and banks, must follow.

These rules, captured under the four-year-old Cybersecurity Act, mandate that critical sector organisations must ensure the security of their information technology systems and report cyber attacks within hours, among other things.

The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore is reviewing existing cyber-security regulations for the 11 CII sectors to have them also cover what it calls foundational digital infrastructure and key digital services. Such infrastructure and services include cloud services and apps that CSA said are important in enabling Singapore’s digital economy and allowing people to go about their way of life digitally.

The Cybersecurity Act establishes a legal framework for the oversight and maintenance of national cybersecurity in Singapore. Since its introduction, reliance on digital infrastructure and services has increased significantly. As Singapore digitalises, more organisations are now at risk of falling victim to cyber-attacks if the necessary cybersecurity safeguards are not put in place.  CSA is therefore reviewing the CS Act to ensure that the digital infrastructure and services that we use are secure.

The CS Act has thus far focused on CIIs, which support the delivery of essential services in the physical world such as water and power. Moving forward, CSA will explore expanding the CS Act to improve awareness of threats over Singapore’s cyberspace, protect virtual assets as CII if they support essential services. Beyond the CIIs, the CS Act review will also cover foundational digital infrastructure and key digital services, e.g. apps, that are important to enable our Digital Economy and sustain our Digital Way of Life.

The Cybersecurity Act provides a framework for the designation of CII, and CII Owners across the 11 critical sectors are required to comply with the mandatory cyber hygiene practices within the CCoP2 to ensure a strong cybersecurity foundation for the CII sectors. A set of mandatory Operational Technology (OT)-specific cybersecurity practices was introduced as an addendum to the CCoP with the aim of elevating the state of cybersecurity for OT CII.

However, as cyber threats continue to evolve and grow in sophistication, foundational cyber hygiene practices may no longer be sufficient for CII Owners to defend against such threats. In particular, ransomware has evolved into a massive and systemic threat that can pose concerns to national security and disrupt critical services. Additionally, every CII sector faces cybersecurity risks that are specific to their digital terrains e.g., migration to the Cloud or use of 5G technologies. Cyber hygiene practices that are generic across critical sectors would not be able to address such specific risks.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, CSA has launched a series of tool kits for enterprises, which guide cybersecurity issues tailored for senior business leaders, owners SMEs, as well as employees. The new toolkits help to simplify cybersecurity and enable businesses to make more informed trade-offs between security, system usability and cost.

The toolkit for enterprise leaders and SME owners will focus on the business reasons for business leaders and SME owners to invest in cybersecurity, such as rationalising investment in cybersecurity, and how fostering a culture of cybersecurity would enable enterprises to reap the benefits of digital transformation.

The programme is one of the major initiatives under the Safer Cyberspace Masterplan, which was launched last year. The master plan was developed in consultation with the cybersecurity industry and academia, to raise the general level of cybersecurity in Singapore for individuals, communities, enterprises, and organisations. Key areas of focus include securing Singapore’s core digital infrastructure, safeguarding cyberspace activities and empowering a cyber-savvy population.

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