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Singapore Unveils Cyber-Security Tool to Protect Citizens’ Smart Devices

Last year, reported cybercrime cases accounted for nearly half of total crimes in Singapore, with both ransomware and botnet attacks seeing significant increases. The city-state expects ransomware and malicious attacks on remote workers and supply chains to become more prevalent.

Against this backdrop, the government and industry partners are developing a new mobile tool to help Singaporeans protect their smartphones from cyber-security threats. The initiative becomes more pertinent as people become more reliant on smart devices that cybercriminals can easily target, according to Singapore’s Cyber Security Agency (CSA). As more people and businesses go digital, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it exposes them to more cyber threats.

The tool is one of the initiatives outlined in Singapore’s new cyber-security strategy, which the Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security announced. As the cyber landscape has evolved significantly over the last five years, the new strategy updates and expands on the first one launched by Singapore’s Prime Minister in 2016.

The Government will support enterprises by making cyber-security resources available – from free self-help tools to cost-effective solutions provided in partnership with the cyber-security industry.

– Cyber Security Agency of Singapore

These efforts are part of a cyber-security strategy to ensure a safe cyberspace. Under this, the CSA aims to provide cyber security to the public. “The Government will protect our national Internet infrastructure such that enterprises and individuals in Singapore are protected from most online threats ever reaching them,” said the Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security.

CSA also said that the government will also strive to make the use of cyber-security solutions simple and convenient. To accomplish this, it will collaborate with the industry to create innovative “plug and play” cyber-security solutions for users.

The latest cyber-security strategy comes as cyber threats have increased in the country, with some serious incidents occurring in recent years. To adapt to changes in the cyber operating environment, the Singapore Cybersecurity Strategy 2021 takes a more proactive approach to address threats, simplifies cybersecurity for end-users, and develops deeper partnerships with the industry.

The updated national cybersecurity strategy was unveiled by Singapore’s Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security at the sixth edition of the Singapore International Cyber Week (SICW). The Singapore Cybersecurity Strategy 2021 (“Strategy 2021”) underlines Singapore’s action plan to be more proactive in addressing cyber threats, raising the overall level of cybersecurity across the country, and advancing international cybersecurity norms and standards. Strategy 2021 will also place a greater emphasis on workforce and ecosystem advancement for businesses and citizens to capitalise on economic opportunities in the cybersecurity sector.

Moreover, the government will evaluate regulations to see if they can be used to protect entities and systems that are not critical information infrastructure (CII) but provide important services that support the country’s digital economy and way of life. Beyond regulations, CSA said, the new strategy will also seek to “nudge enterprises and organisations to invest in cyber security to thrive in a digital world”.

Cyber-security toolkits will be made available to enterprises, including their leaders, technical teams, and employees, as part of the programme. The resources are designed to provide leaders with a better understanding of cyber-security issues and threats. It is hoped that this will assist them in implementing cyber-security measures such as employee training in this area. The programme is also expected to release tools that will allow businesses to self-assess their cyber-security capabilities.

The head of the Centre of Excellence for National Security at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies also suggested that the government may need to address the issue of integrating cyber security with other digital security issues in the future. He highlighted that, while cyber security and resilience to disinformation campaigns appear to be separate issues with different agencies in charge, malicious actors attempting to undermine Singapore would not recognise these distinctions.

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