Taking forward the learnings from a recent cyber attack impacting organisations all across the world, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has rolled out a set of central banking rules to mitigate the technology risks in the financial sector.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) now requires all financial institutions to assess the suppliers of their technology vendors. The updated guidelines apply to all banks, payment services firms such as GrabPay and Singtel Dash, as well as brokerage and insurance firms.
In a typical assessment, suppliers may be asked to prove that their software source code is rigorously tested and they do not use unsafe programming practices. Suppliers may also be asked to reveal their security measures and how often they monitor cyber risks.
Mr Vincent Loy, assistant managing director of technology at MAS, shared that using an external vendor which may, in turn, procure third-party tools brings significant risks to banking systems. “Unknown third-party suppliers are what MAS is most worried about… Financial institutions that do not allocate sufficient financial resources may be more open to unknown third-party suppliers,” he said.
The hacking of Texas-based SolarWinds, a leading provider of IT management software, had subjected hundreds of thousands of firms and government entities around the world to risks. SolarWinds’ IT management tools are common components in the products of many large vendors including Microsoft, FireEye and Cisco Systems.
Mr Tan Yeow Seng, the MAS chief cybersecurity officer, said financial institutions are increasingly reliant on third-party service providers as they adopt new technologies. “The revised guidelines set out MAS’ higher expectations in the areas of technology risk governance and security controls in financial institutions,” he added.
Straits Times reported that an assessment of third-party suppliers was previously not required under the MAS Technology Risk Management (TRM) guidelines, although due diligence on technology vendors was a must. The screening of component suppliers is now clearly spelt out in the revised TRM guidelines, which cover a wide range of topics to help firms fob off and recover from cyber-attacks and system failures.
Risks through the use of open application programming interface (API), a code that lets different applications talk to one another, are also addressed in the newly updated TRM rules. Banks have used APIs to automatically share foreign exchange rates, for example. This has allowed many external developers to build currency conversion apps using the data. Under the revised TRM rules, financial services firms must vet entities that access their APIs by looking at the nature of their business, cybersecurity posture, industry reputation and track record. They must also secure the development of the APIs and encrypt sensitive data transmitted to prevent leaks or hackers injecting malicious codes in the APIs.
In another key change to the TRM guidelines, the board of directors and senior management in financial institutions must vet and approve key technology and cyber-security appointments. “Organisations that do not have a good cyber-security posture usually do not have a board and senior management oversight for IT functions and key appointments,” said Mr Loy, citing findings of the central bank’s own audits.
Last revised in 2013, the TRM guidelines have been updated at a time of increased data sharing that underpins the sector’s digital transformation. The revision took in feedback from a public consultation in 2019 and other expert engagements. The guidelines elaborate on the mandatory requirements set out in the MAS TRM notice, first issued in 2013 and which carries a fine of up to $100,000 for non-compliance under the Banking Act. In the case of a continuing offence, a further fine of up to $10,000 daily may be levied.
The Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency (TNeGA) has developed an artificial intelligence (AI)-based mobile application, ePaarwai, which can help screen a large number of people for cataracts. By addressing resource constraints in cataract detection, it aims to eradicate preventive blindness in the state.
India has about 4.7 million vision-impaired people, and about 66% of them lose their eyesight due to cataracts. Undiagnosed cataracts remain a huge problem especially in rural areas and among low-income settlements in urban areas, owing to the lack of trained professionals and other resources, a news report explained. The use of AI to fight cataracts is low when compared to other major age-related eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.
The app can be used for the preliminary screening of the eye by analysing a picture of the patient’s eye. It can also help identify what stage of cataract patients are in and whether or not they require surgery. ePaarwai is also designed to detect macular disintegration.
Diagnostic eye-care AI-based systems are trained with many pictures of the eye, following which the algorithms learn the difference between normal and abnormal images. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent or minimise vision loss or impairment. The results of ePaarwai from field trials were encouraging. The app has the potential to prevent millions of senior citizens in rural and urban low-income settlements from losing their eyesight.
Launched with the help of the Tamil Nadu State Blind Control Society (TNSBCS), and for the state health department, the app is being tested in a few districts. Currently, TNSBCS does not have enough manpower to help detect the stages of surgery and is looking to tap AI, Santosh Mishra, the Chief Executive Officer of TNeGA, told reporters. There are only about 20,000 ophthalmologists for the 1.3 billion people in India.
AI is expected to relieve the overburdened healthcare system, augment scarce personnel and lab facilities, and help overcome accessibility barriers. It can aid early detection, diagnosis, decision-making, and treatment. The healthcare sector in India remains multi-layered and complex and is ripe for disruption from emerging technologies at multiple levels. It is probably the most intuitive and obvious use case primed for intervention by AI-driven solutions, as evidenced by the increasing activity from large corporates and start-ups in developing AI-focused healthcare solutions.
The country’s think tank, the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog), in its 2018 report on AI, noted that the healthcare market globally driven by AI is expected to register an explosive CAGR of 40% through 2021 and reach US$6.6 billion this year. The advances in technology and interest from innovators provide an opportunity for India to solve some of its long-existing challenges in providing appropriate healthcare to a large section of its population. AI, robotics, and the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) could potentially be the new nervous system for healthcare and present solutions to address healthcare problems.
In India’s budget for the fiscal year that begins 1 April and ends 31 March 2022, the Finance Minister proposed more than doubling India’s healthcare and wellbeing spending to IN₹2.2 trillion (US$30.1 billion). It includes a new federal scheme to develop the country’s capacity for primary, secondary, and tertiary care as well as to strengthen national institutions and create new ones to detect and cure diseases.
To support the objectives of the Singapore Green Plan 2030, the second edition of the Singapore Energy Grand Youth Challenge will garner ideas using Minecraft: Education Edition (M:EE) from secondary school and junior college students on the following topic – “How would your carbon-free school or neighbourhood in Singapore look like in 2050?”.
The top three teams with the most innovative ideas in each of the two categories will be awarded up to $10,000 in cash prizes.
The Challenge is a partnership between the Energy Market Authority (EMA) and Microsoft Singapore, and supported by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). Registration starts 1 March 2021. It is held as part of the Singapore Together movement where Singaporeans can partner the government and one another to co-create solutions and realise the Green Plan.
The Singapore Green Plan 2030 is a whole of nation movement to advance Singapore’s national agenda on sustainable development. The youth play an important role in reducing carbon emissions and saving resources and energy.
“As part of the Singapore Green Plan 2030, Singapore is making the transition towards a carbon-free energy future. To achieve this, we need to change the way we produce and use energy. We encourage youth to envision how emerging low-carbon technologies like carbon capture and innovative energy efficiency solutions can make Singapore more sustainable in the future.” said Mr Ngiam Shih Chun, Chief Executive, Energy Market Authority.
To engage more youth on sustainability issues, this year’s Challenge has been expanded to include junior college students within the new Senior category, together with upper secondary students.
Lower secondary students will be placed in the Junior category. Members of the public will also be invited to vote for the entry which best resonates with their ideas for a carbon-free Singapore.
The inaugural Singapore Energy Grand Challenge for the Youth was launched in March 2020 and invited secondary school students to co-create Singapore’s Energy Story with the question “How would your energy efficient school or neighbourhood in Singapore look like in 2050?”.
92 teams across 29 secondary schools took part in the Challenge. Teams from Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary), Bedok Green Secondary School and St Hilda’s Secondary School were crowned the top three winners and their submissions can be viewed online.
Students interested to participate in this year’s Challenge may register online by 15 April 2021. Students must form teams of two to four schoolmates, and submit a three-minute video showcasing their idea for a carbon-free Singapore with their registration. Shortlisted teams will be contacted and invited to attend specialised workshops to help them with their final submissions.
All submissions will be judged by a panel of representatives from EMA, IMDA, Microsoft Singapore and relevant industry players according to the criteria of relevance, creativity, and presentation. The top three teams from both the Junior and Senior categories will receive their awards in end-July 2021.
Following on from its investment in workforce management (WFM), a tech provider of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Payroll Software (PS) in New Zealand and Australia, is set to launch a new solution to market design to help simplify and streamline workforce management for shift-based businesses across the region.
The company says the upcoming release of the new workforce management attachment will mark a new milestone for its Enterprise division, which will now provide mid-market businesses with the opportunity to combine their ERP, PS and WFM software under a single, seamless integrated cloud platform.
As well as being available as an attachment to the new platform, customers managing larger workforces will also be able to take advantage of the new workforce management solution which can be easily added to their existing software.
The tech firm’s Enterprise Head of Product, says that to fulfil their business’ growth potential and remain competitive, it is more important than ever for employers to ensure they are equipped with the right tools to successfully manage their ever-changing workforces. He said that they have seen from the results of the Ministry of Innovation and Employment’s National Survey of Employment Intentions that there is a clear drive amongst mid-market businesses to grow their employee numbers in 2021.
22% of businesses with 20 or more employees are also expecting to increase the number of part-time staff. While it is heartening to see such positivity around hiring ambitions, the benefits of bringing new talent into a business can only really be maximised when the whole process is managed well, he added.
Complete with features that cater to the needs of shift-based workforces, the new cloud-driven workforce management offering will be available in New Zealand from early April and Expressions of Interest are now open for mid-market businesses who want to take advantage of the new release.
Capabilities offered through the new solution will see businesses in industries like retail, hospitality, healthcare, manufacturing and construction, create and automate rosters based on employee skills, onboard new starters quickly and easily, streamline timesheet approvals, and seamlessly manage workforces across multiple locations.
In contrast, due to the increased adoption of managed infrastructure services, the emergence of new cloud watering hole attacks also continues to rise. According to research, of all violations identified, 23% correspond to poorly configured managed service offerings largely the result of default security profiles or configurations that offer excessive permissions.
According to a cloud cyber resilience specialist, attackers increasingly strive to leverage weaknesses that enable them to deliver malware to end-users, gain unauthorised access to production environments or their data, or completely compromise a target environment.
This strategy is known as a watering hole attack, and researchers have seen them emerge in cloud environments where they can cause even more damage. This is partly because development processes in the cloud that leverage managed services are not hidden inside the organisation as they are in on-premises environments, they are largely exposed to the world.
When criminals can exploit misconfigurations in development pipelines, it can spell disaster not only for the company but also its customers. To address this risk, enterprises should assume the entire development process is easily accessible and restrict access to only the users who need it. They added that the cloud infrastructure must be continuously monitored in runtime for configuration changes and assessed for risk.
Moreover, rapid cloud adoption, targeted remote working, double extortion ransomware attacks and mobile targets are amongst the key cybersecurity trends resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, according to researchers.
Therefore, as reported by OpenGov Asia, New Zealand Tech Alliance (NZTech) whose purpose is “to connect, promote and advance tech ecosystems and help the New Zealand economy grow to create a prosperous digital nation”, feels that the government must be more proactive in educating the population on cybersecurity.
OpenGov Asia also reported on a study done by a New Zealand cybersecurity firm that says as organisations accelerate their spending on cloud migration and digitalisation to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, many may be overestimating their ability to protect their systems and their processes. It is estimated that about 80% of cybercrimes could be prevented. Simple measures like using and updating complex passwords and installing updates go a long way in safety.
Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc recently said that if the country is not brave enough to invest in science and technology and innovation, Vietnam would get stuck in the low-productivity, low-added value and middle-income trap.
Investing in technology and innovation is vital for the nation to bring products to new levels and escape the rut of being the outsourcing hub for others – a reputation which the country has been associated with for decades. This is not only true, he said, for technology firms but for all enterprises in the economy. Applying and inventing new technologies can help increase productivity and heighten enterprises’ positions.
The “Make in Vietnam” initiative, promoted by the Ministry of Information and Technology (MIC) has infused fresh vitality in the startup community. Vietnam has become the fifth country in the world mastering 5G technology, producing 5G infrastructure equipment and 5G smartphones. This stems from Make in Vietnam pride. Over 13,000 digital technology firms were established just in the last year, raising the total number of digital technology firms to 58,000.
In fact, 2020 saw a rigorous start to digital transformation in all fields. The Ministry of Information and Communications built numerous programmes and plans over the course of the year to facilitate a prompt digitalisation process towards digital transformation as well as the engagement of businesses in the information technology sector. Noteworthy was that the IT sector quickly teamed up with others to develop digital products serving efforts in COVID-19 prevention and control and adapting to the “new normal”.
If Vietnam continues is to continue outsourcing, it should only be a very small part of the value chain. Domestically, there is a range of sectors and products that Vietnam has had significant success in. Electric cars, mobility and smartphones are an area that the Vietnamese versatitlity and expertise of shows.
State-owned Viettel, one of the fastest-growing telecom operators, is building a digital business culture with the focus on flexibility, creativity, customer orientation, digital thinking and openness. Other than telecommunications, the company also has expertise in hi-tech research and manufacturing, postal services, construction and commerce. It has accelerated digital transformation in internal administration, applying modern technologies with international standards. All documents at Viettel have been digitised, 50% of manual work has been liberalized, and 30-40 percent of tasks have been automated. Its ecosystem of digital products provides B2C and B2B services in a wide range of fields, from finance, digital marketing and OTT, customer care e-government and smart cities.
In order to accomplish that, the space for creativity must be expanded, while management thinking needs to be reformed, so that creativity is not hindered by rigid regulations and officials’ bureaucracy. The deputy head of the Vietnam Economics Institute stressed that Vietnam needs to reform the way of thinking and the institutional regime with the aim of encouraging participation of non-state sectors in science and technology development and innovation. He believes that information technology and digital transformation should be seen as an important push and pillar to support the recovery process, strengthen resilience, and improve growth quality.
Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung said, ” Becoming a pioneer has always been the aspiration of the Vietnamese nation and every Vietnamese citizen. It is difficult to implement this, but it is not impossible.”
While Vietnam may currently be behind many countries, missing opportunities along the development path, Vietnam has made up for that. Now it is among the top countries in the region and the world in some fields, such as telecommunications and power, maintaining high growth rates. With more power from the 4.0 industrial revolution and its digital transformation strategy, Vietnam’s growth engine will have an additional push to achieve its aspirations of becoming a high-income country by 2045 into reality.
The Northern Territory government is trialling custom-made, state-of-the-art medical drones to deliver potentially life-saving medicines. The project will explore the challenges of using drone technology to deliver health services in the Northern Territory, such as procuring airframes that can manage vast distances and adapting technology to withstand hot, humid and monsoonal climates. The project will also involve developing a drone test flight centre in the Northern Territory.
With a flying range of 250 km, the drones have the potential to shorten the delivery of time-critical medical items to hard-to-reach and seasonally inaccessible remote communities. The initiative can go a long in helping save lives and reducing the costs of delivery. The project will also open the way ay for future delivery of critical items such as cold-storage vaccines (for COVID-19) in regional and remote communities.
The delivery of time-critical medical items is a serious limitation and cost for healthcare in remote and regional Australia. Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) have become a routine part of the medical delivery infrastructure in some developing countries, improving timeliness, reducing costs, and saving lives. However, their use in the Australian health care supply chain is still in its infancy.
The project will explore integrating drones into the existing health transport infrastructure framework. It will collaborate with the Civil Aviation and Safety Authority to identify and regulate flight paths within current airspace requirements.
The maximum flying range has been set at 250 km at 235 km. In the short-term, the target is to achieve regular drone flights of up to 100 km by the end of 2021 and regular drone flights of up to 250 km and regular transport of medical items to and from remote communities by 1 July 2023. Negotiations are on with firms for appropriate drone airframes that are able to deal with both the wet and dry seasons.
The pilot has been supported by iMOVE, Australia’s leading applied research centre in the transportation and mobility sector. They help both the public and private sectors tackle transport-related challenges by connecting and activating the ideas, people and resources to get things moving. As a national centre for collaborative research in transport and mobility, iMOVE will fund the project, along with the NT Government Department of Health and Charles Darwin University (CDU). Drone services consultant UAV is advising on the project. Drone pilots will soon be recruited and will undergo specialist training.
iMOVE Programs Director Lee-Ann Breger said that regional communities face medical access and health supply issues that could be addressed with the provision of suitable technology. “There are about eight million people living in rural and remote parts of the country – that’s about a third of our population living in places where getting life-saving medical supplies is not only a race against time but also a battle against the tyranny of distance, harsh landscapes and unpredictable elements,” said Breger.
Lee-Ann revealed that the project is looking to create an efficient model so drone health delivery services can eventually be rolled out in other regional locations across Australia.
The role of Charles Darwin University (CDU) is to explore the potential of using automated aircraft for the delivery of time-critical medical items to remote communities across the Northern Territory. Interim Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Mike Wilson Professor Wilson agreed that the collaboration would be a testing ground for the application of autonomous systems into healthcare delivery across Australia.
While drones are already being used in health care in developing countries, he noted, more research was needed to understand where drones can reduce costs and improve healthcare outcomes for remote communities in the Northern Territory. The territory presents unique challenges, such as long distances, problems caused by monsoonal rain, cyclones, extreme temperatures and humidity – all will have to be solved by researchers.
Apart from addressing the main issue of access, the project holds promise for the local economy. NT Minister for Health Natasha Fyles confirmed that apart from keeping remote territories areas healthy and safe, this technology would create new jobs and opportunities
“The use of drones will be a game-changer when it comes to enhancing our healthcare system. It doesn’t matter whether you live in the city or in the bush — Territorians deserve to have access to the very best health services, and this new technology will be a driving force in this space,” said Minister Fyles.
With the pandemic still at hand, countries from all over are looking for further improvements on COVID-19 testing procedures. In Singapore, clinics authorised to conduct pre-departure COVID-19 tests (PDTs) for outbound travellers will now have to issue digital test result certificates, instead of the current physical certificates.
The digital test results will look to improve Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) existing online portal testing programme where passengers can choose from a list of recognised testing facilities and book appointments for pre-departure Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and serology tests. This is part of a digital health verification process based on the International Air Transport Association (Iata) Travel Pass framework.
The digitalisation initiative was supposed to start recently, but it had been delayed to allow clinics and labs additional time to set up the capability to digitalise the PDT certificates.
The Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) said that the new digital certification system is based on HealthCerts, an open-source framework for issuing digital COVID-19 test result certificates. The use of HealthCerts for digital PDT certificates enables an inter-operable, verifiable, and tamper-proof solution that will smoothen and expedite check-in processing and customs clearance at foreign and local immigration checkpoints.
Travellers will need to notarise the digital COVID-19 test certificate – which means having the document certified by the Ministry of Health – so it can be recognised at the airport and overseas. The certificate will need to be uploaded on the Government’s Notarise website, after which a notarised digital PDT certificate containing a QR code will be sent to travellers.
Airline and immigration officials can scan the QR code to check the authenticity of the PDT certificate using a tool called Verify, developed by a technology agency, or by a verification tool currently being piloted by the SIA. The platform will be able to check whether the digital certificate was tampered with and whether the certificate has been notarised by the Health Ministry.
Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative in the Prime Minister’s Office Vivian Balakrishnan said in Parliament during the debate on the PMO’s budget that the notarised pre-departure test results will be available on the SingPass Mobile app. The notarised test results will also be sent via e-mail.
Meanwhile, the Government will also look to expand this measure on vaccine certificates.
However, SNDGO noted that the World Health Organisation’s current recommendation is that COVID-19 vaccinations should not be imposed as a condition of entry. They also added that the Government is closely monitoring international developments on the use of digital vaccination certifications for travel and is in discussions with the International Civil Aviation Organisation and various countries on the mutual recognition of such certifications.
There are currently nine HealthCerts-compliant technology providers, which clinics can buy from to start issuing digital certificates. SNDGO clarified that the individual’s data remains private with the digital test certificate.
This is all in line with the country’s efforts in providing a robust system to verify the authenticity of COVID-19 tests and vaccinations, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. A standardised system is essential to reopen borders and resume international travel, he said in a special address to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Davos Agenda 2021. He further said that countries need to strengthen international cooperation, which is essential in tackling the global pandemic. If countries are to tackle COVID-19 coherently, international cooperation and multilateral efforts, as well as an international order underpinned by stable great power relations, are critical.
Indonesian and UK cooperation in the technology, digital, and start-up sectors has grown rapidly since the launch of the Indonesia-UK Tech Hub. The Tech Hub collaborates with many agencies like governments, professional associations, education institutions, digital communities, investors and is looking to involve a wider range of groups and communities. The platform also supports the growth of Indonesia’s digital ecosystem and develops initiatives to support women and marginalized groups in increasing their digital literacy so that they can participate in this growing sector, said the Ambassador of the UK.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, the information technology sector in Indonesia is poised to be one of the main pillars of the government as it continues to build on existing digital ventures and expected to amplify the nation’s digital transformation strategy.
As a country with the biggest economy in Southeast Asia, Indonesia will benefit a lot from technology to achieve inclusion and better access for women and underrepresented groups, raise SMEs and scale-up the digital start-up ecosystem. The announcement made in Indonesia confirms that the two countries are cooperating in the digital start-up sector, with a specific focus that looks at tackling climate change and cybercrime and promotes inclusiveness.
The British Embassy, on its part, will hold a series of webinars that will also introduce the “UKode Hackathon 2021”. Through the hackathon, the UK-Indonesia Tech Hub encourages creative new technological solutions for climate change. The event is the first activity in their line-up that invites innovative talent to address problems and challenges of climate change through digital discovery and solutions.
Britain will also host the Climate Change Conference and is also committed to encouraging all countries, including Indonesia, to be more ambitious in dealing with climate change. The embassy acknowledged that China, Japan and South Korea, recently announced Net Zero targets, giving a clear signal to investors and businesses that the future is low carbon – making their countries more attractive to business people who want to invest in economic sectors in the future, such as renewable energy and electric vehicles.
The governments believe that Indonesia’s technology sector getting involved in climate change will open the door to new funding opportunities. The one-year celebration of the UK-Indonesia Tech Hub would go a long way to support the growth of the digital ecosystem in Indonesia. Currently, investors are not only focusing on green economy businesses, but also on those that have a social and environmental impact as a whole or impact investment. This includes start-ups engaged in the green economy, renewable energy, education and more.
Additionally, the UK is eager to see more Indonesian talent participating and joining the UKode Hackathon 2021 competition so that they can push their creative boundaries and create digital solutions that can help the global community – and support Indonesia’s economy to advance to the world level.
Apart from climate change issues and the rise of tech start-ups, the two countries also highlighted the problem of cybercrime in the country. As also previously reported by OpenGov Asia, Indonesia is the second most targeted country for cyber-attacks and the third most vulnerable country to malware. The country is reported to be a victim of 36.6 million cyber-attacks in recent years. These attacks are targeted at both the public and private sectors.
For Indonesia, effective cybersecurity strategies and tactics are needed and they already form an integral part of the country’s digital transformation planning. In this context, the Indonesian government created the National Cyber Security Agency (BCN) to address these problems. The agency continuously looks to strengthen its defences against cyber threats and attackers. It will also work to increase public awareness about the cybersecurity landscape.
To better take advantage of the era of the Industrial Revolution 4.0, the community must be able to understand the dynamics that will arise and prepare themselves for the changes that will occur in the future. Both individuals and organisations have been urged to stress cybersecurity awareness and embed it into their DNA.