February 25, 2024

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New measures to safeguard personal data in public sector

The public service is to mandate 13 new measures in the aims of safeguarding citizens’ personal data. These measures are being implemented, following a number of personal data breaches that occurred last year.

This announcement was made by the Public Sector Data Security Review Committee. This committee which was convened by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in March will analyse and recommend measures to the Government for securing personal data of citizens.

A progress report issued by the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) on Monday, July 15, stated that the committee is concluding a detailed review of the civil service’s data security system. This review includes a consolidation of data management practices across all sectors of the government and detailed inspections of major IT systems that are used.

These detailed inspections on IT systems are focused on five agencies:

  • Ministry of Health
  • Health Sciences Authority
  • Health Promotion Board
  • Central Provident Fund
  • Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore

This is a result of the high volumes of sensitive data that these agencies deal with.

Personal data breaches of last year

Singapore’s healthcare sector agencies had a tough experience of dealing with security breaches last year.

SingHealth

1.5million SingHealth patients’ non-medical records were retrieved and copied in July last year. Out of that number, 160,000 had their outpatient dispensed medicines’ record taken. Personal data such as patients’ names, NRIC numbers, address, gender, race, and date of birth were stolen.

Singapore’s HIV registry

HIV-positive status and personal data of 14,200 people were leaked online from Singapore’s HIV registry this year.

Health Sciences Authority

The personal information of 808,201 blood donors was leaked online for a period of nine weeks from Jan 4 this year. A press release reported that the information was accessed illegally and possibly extracted.

Committee’s focus

While the current data security system is guarded with strong pillars, there is always a risk of breaching. In an earlier article OpenGov reported that though the number of common cyber threats detected in Singapore saw a decrease in 2018, Singapore continues to be the target of cyber-attacks by advanced actors.

These were findings released by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) in the Singapore Cyber Landscape 2018 publication on 18 June 2019.

Hackers are constantly trying to find loopholes in the system to attack and access information. With IT systems becoming more complex, the use of data is needed now more than ever to provide more and efficient digital services to the public and for improved policy-making.

The committee is looking to improve the system by focusing on three aspects: Technical, Process and People Strategies

Technical

The Government has agreed with the committee’s advice to immediately deploy technical measures that are ready for implantation for existing and new systems, in efforts of improving data security standards.

The most immediate measures focus on the sending and receiving of data:

  • Data file integrity verification system to avoid tampering of data
  • Strengthening of password and encryption requirements across more types of data files
  • Prompts before public servants send out emails with sensitive data

These measures are slated to be deployed by the end of the year. Following which, the Government will deploy 10 other technical measures such as tokenisation.

 Process and People measures

  • Improve high data protection standards by third parties that handle Government data and help to raise the data security capabilities among public officers

Findings and recommendations by the committee are to be submitted to the prime minister by Nov 30.

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CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

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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.

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