Genting Cruise Lines’ World Dream is the first in a ‘safe cruise’ pilot scheme announced by the Singapore Tourism Board last month to ensure the safe and gradual resumption of cruises amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Cruise sector has been badly hit by the outbreak of COVID-19, with some of the earliest big outbreaks found on cruises. Cruise ships have been identified as high risk for virus spread due to its large number of passengers, confined spaces and lots of opportunities for transmission – from guests leaving and reboarding the ship to guests visiting various locations in different countries over a short period of time.
The World Dream set sail this past Friday on its first trip with around 1,400 passengers, about half of its maximum capacity and reportedly the maximum allowed due to anti-coronavirus policies.
Health and Safety a top priority for resuming cuise liner operations
Before gaining access to the ship, all guests will have to pass a COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test, and those who are seven years old or older will have to carry a MICE Pod token, which monitors wearers to ensure they adhere to social distancing guidelines. That requirement stems from orders passed down by Singapore’s Ministry of Health.
Policies also include social distancing procedures in all public areas, increased food and beverage handling rules, 100% fresh air ventilation in the staterooms and public areas, as well as the ship’s inclusion of a new medical facility. That facility includes a Polymerase Chain Reaction machine, which can detect bacteria and viruses much quicker than other methods.
A second cruise line, Royal Caribbean International, will join the scheme starting December 1.
Under the scheme, the cruises ships will make round trips to the city-state with no port of call in between. Capacity would be limited to 50 per cent and passengers must be Singapore residents. The programme aims at giving residents an opportunity to experience travel and a holiday feel amid the pandemic as well as to revive the tourism industry.
The Cruise inustry is well suited to benefit further from technology solutions designed to help Cruises prevent or efficiently and effectivley management any outbreaks on board. They will also help accelerate the process of sailing further afield to other nations.
Outbreak management system to assist in accelerating the resumption of multiple stop cruises
The travel and hospitality sector may have to invest in technology and adopt integrated technology solutions to ensure business continuity and to provide assurances to their workforce and to their passengers and guests that an outbreak management system has been put in place to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved.
A total outbreak management system would enable cruise liners to have visibility of the overall health of everyone on board and build confidence in the restart of the badly hit sector.
Liberty Passage is a technology solution developed by Singapore start-up Access Anywhere has been designed to help provide relevant timely information and build the confidence required to restart free movement between countries and continents.
The Liberty Outbreak Management System gives cruise operators the opportunity to keep the pandemic under control by leveraging the latest advancements in technology such as constant machine learning and AI to keep cruise line operators, passengers and the authorities informed and aware of the risks around them.
The technology monitors guests and employee movements and contact in real-time, with dashboards that are continually updating with data. The AI and ML technology provides insights to any high-risk areas on the ship.
Its’ app featuring a self temperature check-in function, passenger itinerary and e-health record log along with thermal scanners make the on boarding and off boarding of passengers more efficient.
The system can immediately help identify anyone who has been exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case and individuals will also receive personal risk notifications and alerts.
It will help management prevent or successfully manage an outbreak on the cruise liners by providing them with data and insights to make critical decisions quickly.
With many technology solutions requiring personal data to operate successfully, Liberty Passage uses blockchain technology, all personal information is anonymized at source. The system only asks what is necessary to keep all stakeholders informed and safe.
Liberty Passage is one of three outbreak management solutions Access Anywhere is offering for individuals, organisations, and the entire travel industry.
The Liberty Universe is for the entire population with Liberty Open designed for everyone to manage their personal risk, Liberty Corporate for organisations to ensure a safe return to work, and Liberty Passage for travel and the reopening of borders. Everyone gains from the vast insights the system provides to be able to go about their normal lives whilst keeping as safe as possible during the current pandemic and to mitigate risk from future outbreaks.
For more information, please visit: www.libertyandpassage.com
Departing from one of the busiest airports in the world is about to become a remarkably hassle-free experience. Singaporean ministers have just unveiled plans for an automated immigration clearance system that promises to revolutionise travel with no passport required. This groundbreaking development at Singapore’s Changi Airport is set to launch in 2024.
According to Communications Minister Josephine Teo, this ambitious project intends to eliminate the need for tourists to “repeatedly present their travel documents.” Instead, biometric data gathered from fingerprint scans and facial recognition technology will take the central stage.
While Changi Airport already employs biometric technology in its automated immigration lanes, these upcoming enhancements will take convenience to a whole new level. The goal is to make the entire airport experience smoother and more streamlined for passengers.
Singapore’s Communications Minister, Josephine Teo, proudly announced that Singapore is set to be among “the first few countries in the world” to implement such a groundbreaking system. The first phase of this transformative scheme is expected to roll out early next year, featuring QR code scanning points that will pave the way for the biometric revolution.
These innovations are made possible by recent amendments to Singapore’s immigration laws, which facilitate the widespread adoption of biometric clearance at airports and various other checkpoints. The result will be a travel experience where your personal information seamlessly verifies your identity at every stage, from check-in to boarding.
This monumental shift in travel procedures brings with it a multitude of benefits. Firstly, it eliminates the stress and anxiety associated with keeping track of physical documents throughout the journey. No more worrying about losing the passport or having it stolen, hence, the identity is in the hands, quite literally.
Additionally, using biometric data enhances security measures, making it even more challenging for unauthorised individuals to access restricted areas. It’s a win-win situation for both passengers and airport authorities.
Singapore’s Changi Airport is on the cusp of transforming the way of travelling. The introduction of an automated immigration clearance system powered by biometric data promises a future where passports and boarding passes become relics of the past.
Instead, a simple fingerprint scan or facial recognition will grant access to a seamless, stress-free journey. Singapore is leading the charge into this new era of travel, and the world will be watching closely as the innovation unfolds.
The New Clearance Concept (NCC) and Services Centre Next Generation (SCNG) are two initiatives that the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) implemented to enhance border clearance and registration services, as well as automated immigration clearance and digitalisation.
The Automated Clearance Initiative (ACI), which takes effect in May 2022, allows passport holders from 51 countries to use designated automated immigration lanes without prior enrolment. Over four million international visitors have been enrolled through ACI to date. The electronic visit pass (ePass) contains information on eligible foreign visitors’ enrolment.
During the pandemic-induced slowdown, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), in collaboration with Changi Airport Group and ground handling partners, has accelerated trials of autonomous vehicles (AVs) at Changi Airport’s airside. This time period was used to direct resources and capabilities towards technological and innovative developments.
Advanced robotic systems and adaptive platforms are also being developed to resist varied weather conditions and work well outside. These developments are intended to make aircraft turnaround operations and baggage handling easier, especially in inclement weather. CAAS is committed to strengthening its capabilities in order to manage the anticipated increase in air traffic, with a focus on both safety and efficiency in its operational approach.
The National University of Singapore (NUS), Temasek, and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to begin a collaborative S$75 million pilot programme that intends to hasten the development of profitable deep tech start-ups from NUS and NTU research pipelines.
Additionally, a shared Intellectual Property (IP) licencing framework between NTU Singapore and NUS would speed up the licencing and translation of university innovations for spin-off businesses. In contrast to the typical process, which can take up to five months, the outcome will be a shorter one-month process.
“The collaboration sees us synergising our expertise and resources to create opportunities for applications of emerging technologies and empower start-ups and companies to create positive societal impact and economic growth through innovation,” said Professor Tan Eng Chye, President of NUS.
He added that NUS is excited to leverage its rich expertise and experience in entrepreneurship and innovation to help mature its deep tech ecosystem and facilitate and accelerate IP commercialisation through the framework.
NTU and NUS will each contribute S$5 million to the deep tech start-ups, with Temasek contributing S$65 million. In order to start and develop globally competitive businesses with tremendous potential to address significant global market opportunities in areas including the energy transition, biotechnology, and the future of computation and cognition, Temasek and a deep-tech company will work with NTU and NUS.
To build and refine their go-to-market plans, the deep tech founders will work with the university technical and intellectual property teams. The start-ups will also have access to the networks of firms and mentors offered by Temasek, NTU, and NUS. Every year, at least two start-ups will be introduced, and to help them position themselves for long-term success on a global scale, they will get investment, support, and entrepreneurial mentoring.
Temasek makes investments in cutting-edge innovation to pinpoint and develop skills that are future-focused. By investing in and developing future deep tech champions, its Emerging Technologies division helps to scale Singapore’s deep tech ecosystem and finds disruptive technology investment possibilities that address market nuances.
To give prospective licensors a one-stop shop where they may find and choose IPs from both universities that meet their business needs, NTU and NUS will also create a single online portal.
Advanced materials, biotechnology, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence (AI) are among the cutting-edge topics that deep tech businesses frequently concentrate on. By helping these entrepreneurs, Singapore can encourage ground-breaking inventions that could revolutionise whole sectors of the economy and enhance human welfare.
The nation acknowledges that deep tech companies can boost economic growth, add to the GDP of a nation, and generate high-value jobs. These firms frequently draw talent and call for certain talents, which helps to create new sectors and grow ones that already exist.
Numerous deep tech startups are tackling urgent global issues like cybersecurity, healthcare, and climate change. By helping these firms, technology that tackles these important problems may be developed.
Investing in the development of deep tech startups can provide nations and regions with a competitive edge in the global technology market. Through the promotion of creativity and enterprise, they can establish themselves as pioneers in developing technological domains.
The benefits of nurturing deep tech businesses are not limited to the technological and commercial spheres; they also include wider societal advantages. These businesses frequently tread new ground in ways that improve people’s quality of life and promote environmental sustainability.
In Singapore’s healthcare landscape, Prof Kenneth Mak, Director-General of Health at the Ministry of Health, emphasised the significance of the theme “Reimagining Possibilities – The Pharmacist’s DNA” at this year’s congress which underscores the adaptability and crucial role of pharmacists in healthcare.
Prof Kenneth stated that like DNA’s unchanging core, pharmacists must uphold their fundamental values while adapting to challenges like an ageing population and increasing healthcare expenses. Telemedicine emerges as a pivotal avenue through which pharmacists are driving the transformation of patient-centred care.
“As we journey towards Healthier SG and beyond, pharmacists are at the forefront of digital innovation in healthcare,” said Prof Kenneth. They are embracing telemedicine, collaborating with other healthcare professionals, and continually evolving to meet the challenges of a changing healthcare landscape. The pharmacist’s DNA remains rooted in patient-centred care, but it also incorporates innovation and adaptability, making pharmacists an essential part of the future of healthcare.
Telemedicine, the remote delivery of healthcare services using digital technology, has gained momentum globally, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has revolutionised the way patients access medical care, allowing them to consult with healthcare providers from the comfort of their homes. The integration of pharmacists into telemedicine initiatives holds immense promise in improving healthcare accessibility, efficiency, and patient outcomes.
One significant step towards this future is the Healthier SG campaign, launched by the Ministry of Health in July 2023. This campaign underscores the importance of preventive care in the communities, emphasising healthier lifestyles and overall well-being.
Pharmacists, deeply embedded in their communities, play a crucial role in educating the public on medication management, health screenings, and vaccinations. They also collaborate with family doctors, supporting patients in their journey towards healthier lives, including smoking cessation and adopting healthier behaviours.
Innovations like Pharmaceutical Care Services (PCS) exemplify how pharmacists are empowering patients. PCS, initiated in senior care centres, equips patients and caregivers with the knowledge and tools to manage medications independently. Feedback indicates increased patient confidence in medication management, aligning with the goals of Healthier SG. Expanding PCS to primary care settings like general practitioner clinics and retail pharmacies will make this service even more accessible.
The collaboration between community pharmacies and telemedicine providers represents another leap in healthcare innovation. Pharmacies partnering with telemedicine providers enable them to triage patients, conduct history-taking, and refer them to teleconsultations with doctors. This seamless integration of services ensures patients receive comprehensive care at their convenience, bridging the gap between pharmacy and telemedicine.
The role of digital technology in telemedicine is pivotal, as it enables the delivery of healthcare services remotely, bridging geographical barriers and improving access to care.
Telemedicine platforms serve as comprehensive digital ecosystems that support various aspects of virtual care. They offer features like appointment scheduling, secure video conferencing, electronic health records (EHR) integration, and billing. These platforms streamline the telemedicine workflow for both patients and healthcare providers.
Additionally, digital technology plays a crucial role in the development and use of specialised telemedicine devices, such as telemedicine carts equipped with cameras and medical instruments. These devices are used for remote examinations and diagnostics.
AI-driven algorithms and machine learning models assist healthcare providers in diagnosing conditions, predicting outcomes, and personalising treatment plans. AI can analyse large datasets to identify patterns and trends that might not be readily apparent to humans.
In partnership with the Ministry of Manpower, the Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore (PSS) is contributing to healthcare workforce development. Customised training programmes are being developed to upskill healthcare associates, enabling them to play essential roles in areas like medication management and patient inquiries, particularly in caring for migrant workers.
The world’s first integrated cyber defence, cyber security, and emerging technology event, CYDES 2023, took place at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, highlighting the importance of addressing cyber-threat challenges and fostering collaboration within the ASEAN region.
Cybersecurity leaders across Asia concur that collaboration and breaking down silos among organisations and sectors are essential for success in tackling the complex and ever-evolving challenges of cybersecurity, ensuring the preservation of digital infrastructure.
David Koh, Commissioner of Cybersecurity and Chief Executive of the Cyber Security Agency (CSA) of Singapore, emphasised the importance of collaboration among different agencies to effectively address cybersecurity challenges, “Cyber is a team sport. We can’t do this by ourselves.”
For example, the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore works closely with the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, and the Ministry of Communications and Information to share critical information and coordinate responses to cyber threats.
However, to effectively combat cyber threats, government agencies require the cooperation and active involvement of businesses, academia, and civil society as valuable partners in the collective effort to strengthen cybersecurity measures.
According to David, in the rapidly evolving cyberspace landscape, private companies possess valuable intelligence, operational capabilities, and technical know-how that complement government efforts, making partnering with the private sector essential for robust cybersecurity measures.
This collaborative approach fosters a comprehensive and unified response, leveraging diverse expertise and resources to safeguard digital infrastructures and protect against evolving cyber threats.
“Governments must therefore collaborate with the private sector to enhance their cybersecurity posture,” David believes. “Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) play a crucial role in fostering information sharing, promoting collaborative research and development, and driving innovation in cybersecurity, enabling governments and private companies to jointly address the ever-growing challenges of the digital era.”
The successful partnership between the Singaporean government and a private technology corporation during the response to the SolarWinds attack exemplifies how PPPs can leverage private sector expertise to obtain critical technical information and develop actionable indicators of compromise, enhancing the collective cybersecurity defence capabilities.
This is merely one instance in which PPPs can assist the public sector in enhancing its cybersecurity posture. Governments and companies can make the digital world safer for everyone by working together and safeguarding individuals, businesses and critical infrastructures in the digital frontier.
David highlighted the importance of adopting a new perspective, urging governments to share information with private businesses and embrace innovative ideas. This shift is challenging yet essential for effective cybersecurity in the digital world. By adjusting their approach and collaborating with private companies, governments can contribute to a safer digital environment for all.
Indeed, Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) play a crucial role in cybersecurity, as they bridge the gap between the public and private sectors. By sharing information, expertise, and resources, these partnerships enhance the collective ability to detect, prevent, and respond to cyber threats effectively.
Moreover, PPPs facilitate the development of new technologies and innovative solutions, fostering a collaborative environment for tackling evolving cybersecurity challenges. Ultimately, such collaborations improve the coordination of cybersecurity efforts, leading to a more robust and secure global digital landscape and the world (digital and physical) a safer place for everyone.
Shamsul Bahri Hj Kamis, Interim Commissioner of Cyber Security Brunei (CSB), highlighted the need to examine current systems to harmonise cybersecurity in ASEAN. In 2017, ASEAN member states developed the ASEAN Cybersecurity Cooperation Strategy, outlining directions, objectives, and action plans to strengthen cybersecurity in the region.
The policy aims to tackle communication challenges arising from the multitude of sectoral groups within ASEAN working on cybersecurity. This is particularly challenging due to ASEAN’s consensus-based decision-making process, which can sometimes hinder progress.
However, various measures to address cybersecurity in ASEAN are already underway. The ASEAN Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), which coordinates the response to cybersecurity incidents, and the ASEAN Cybersecurity Capacity Programme, which provides training and assistance to ASEAN member states in developing their cybersecurity capabilities, are two examples.
“To move forward, ASEAN must devise a strategy for more effectively sharing information and collaborating on addressing the most severe cyber threats,” Shamsul elaborates. “This will necessitate tight collaboration among governments, corporations and civil society.”
Shamsul believes that collaboration within ASEAN can create a secure and resilient digital environment for people and businesses. He stressed the need for shared awareness of the region’s risks and challenges, as well as a clear division of responsibilities among the various sectoral bodies.
Strengthening information sharing within ASEAN and with other nations, along with a focus on capacity building in member states, is essential as cybersecurity should be embraced as a shared responsibility by all stakeholders.
“By resolving these issues, ASEAN can make substantial strides towards regional cybersecurity harmonisation,” Shamsul is convinced.
Shariffah Rashidah Syed Othman, Acting Chief Executive of the National Cyber Security Agency of Malaysia (NACSA), agrees that cybersecurity is increasingly becoming a critical concern for governments and businesses globally, particularly in the ASEAN region, where the rapidly growing digital economy necessitates strong cybersecurity measures.
According to Shariffah, the cross-border nature of cyber threats is one of ASEAN’s greatest cybersecurity challenges. Cybercriminals can simply target victims in one country while operating from another. As a result, governments find it difficult to confront cyber threats on their own.
“By combining the resources and experience of governments and businesses, public-private partnerships can assist in addressing this challenge. Governments can provide regulatory and financial support, while businesses can share knowledge about cyber dangers and best practices,” Shariffah says.
Partnerships between the public and private sectors play a vital role in addressing the barrier of a lack of understanding of cyber risks in the ASEAN region. By collaborating, they can raise awareness of internet threats, educate businesses, and individuals on cybersecurity best practices, and collectively work towards creating a safer digital environment for all.
“ASEAN leaders must recognise that cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. Governments, businesses, and individuals must all work together to secure the region from cyber dangers,” Shariffah stressed.
The comprehensive strategy for enhancing cybersecurity in the region must encompass strengthened government cooperation, information sharing on cyber dangers, increased cyber risk awareness, improved critical infrastructure security, and robust protection of personal data. By addressing these crucial aspects collectively, ASEAN can build a more resilient and secure digital ecosystem for its residents and businesses.
Shariffah outlines several key advantages of public-private partnerships in cybersecurity, such as bridging the divide between technical and non-technical skills, fostering trust and collaboration between governments and enterprises, and facilitating the effective implementation of cybersecurity measures.
By leveraging these partnerships, ASEAN can enhance its cybersecurity capabilities, as governments and companies work together to create a safer and more secure digital environment for everyone in the region.
Shariffah advocates practising “cyber hygiene,” urging individuals to be vigilant about online risks and take proactive measures to protect themselves. This includes using strong passwords, regularly updating software, and exercising caution when sharing personal information on the internet. By promoting cyber hygiene, individuals can play an active role in safeguarding their digital security and contributing to a safer online environment for all.
She also stressed the importance of empathy in cybersecurity, highlighting the need to understand diverse perspectives and communicate in a language that is accessible to all. Recognising the different viewpoints held by individuals is crucial in addressing cybersecurity challenges effectively and fostering a collaborative and inclusive approach to cybersecurity initiatives.
“Cybersecurity is more than just a technical problem – it is a societal issue. Thus everyone needs to be included in the discussion. We can all live in a safer digital environment if we all work together,” Shariffah is convinced.
Indeed, understanding that cybersecurity is not solely a tech challenge but also a community one underscores the importance of involving all stakeholders. By acknowledging the broader societal implications of cybersecurity, public-private partnerships can effectively address challenges and implement comprehensive solutions that safeguard everyone in the digital landscape.
Cybersecurity for SMEs: A Workable Model
David Koh, Commissioner of Cybersecurity and Chief Executive of the Cyber Security Agency (CSA), knows the universal importance of cybersecurity for all organisations but understands there are challenges faced by small and medium-sized firms (SMEs). Due to limited resources and experience, SMEs may find it more difficult to implement effective cybersecurity measures.
The Cyber Security Agency (CSA) in Singapore has created a variety of programmes to assist SMEs in strengthening their cybersecurity posture. The Cyber Essentials mark, which offers a set of fundamental cybersecurity measures that all firms should follow, is one of these initiatives.
The Cyber Essentials mark four important areas including:
- Asset management: Includes cybersecurity awareness for its employees, and classifying and identifying each asset in your company, including its hardware, software, and data.
- Secure and Protect: This entails limiting who has access to and what they can do with the resources of your company.
- Update, backup, and Respond.
“SMEs can begin by adopting Cyber Essentials as a foundational step to strengthen their cybersecurity posture,” David advises. “However, these are just initial restrictions, and SMEs may need to implement additional measures based on their specific requirements and threats.”
If SMEs want to strengthen their cybersecurity posture, they should start with the Cyber Essentials,” David says. It’s crucial to keep in mind that these are merely fundamental, basic restrictions. Depending on their particular requirements and dangers, SMEs may need to implement additional steps, adding that CSA would be happy to share its framework with regional partners like Malaysia and Brunei.
Alongside the Cyber Essentials mark, the Cyber Security Agency (CSA) offers a range of tools to support SMEs in enhancing their cybersecurity. These resources encompass a cybersecurity training programme tailored for SMEs, a dedicated cybersecurity helpline, and a list of certified cybersecurity consultants who can guide SMEs in implementing the Cyber Essentials effectively.
By leveraging the CSA tools, SMEs can significantly bolster their cybersecurity defences and safeguard their businesses against online threats, ensuring the security and protection of their valuable assets and sensitive information.
In addition to CSA’s initiatives, SMEs can bolster their cybersecurity posture through various measures, including ensuring regular software updates, which often include vital security patches to safeguard against known vulnerabilities. Individuals can enhance their cybersecurity by using strong passwords and password management software, while organisations can educate their staff about cybersecurity threats.
Moreover, having a well-defined response plan for cyber incidents is essential for effective cybersecurity management.
“By adopting these measures, SMEs can protect themselves from cyber threats and maintain the security of their businesses,” David concluded.
Shamsul spoke about the Cyber Consortium, a regional programme established in 2021, aimed at bolstering the cybersecurity posture of Southeast Asian SMEs. Comprising academic institutions, IT partners, cybersecurity experts, companies, students, and government regulatory agencies, this collaboration focuses on enhancing cybersecurity resilience in the region.
The Cyber Consortium offers a comprehensive array of services to SMEs, including cybersecurity assessments, training and education, technical support for implementing security measures, and networking opportunities with other SMEs and cybersecurity experts, all aimed at strengthening their cybersecurity defences.
“It is a useful tool for SMEs trying to strengthen their cybersecurity posture. SMEs can get the assistance they need to safeguard their companies against cyber dangers by joining the consortium,” Shamsul believes.
Shariffa acknowledges the dynamic nature of the cybersecurity landscape, with evolving technologies and adaptable cyber threats posing challenges for enterprises and individuals to stay updated with the latest security measures.
“Malaysia’s government has made several efforts to assist businesses in improving their cybersecurity posture,” she reveals. “Funding a programme to assess SMEs’ cybersecurity; collaborating with the local sector to deliver managed security services to SMEs; and collaborating with telcos to impose basic cybersecurity hygiene on their services are all part of this.”
While the mentioned actions are valuable, there are further steps that businesses and individuals can take to bolster their protection against cyber threats. Staying vigilant and informed about the latest cybersecurity risks is crucial, involving keeping abreast of security news, reading security blogs, and participating in security conferences to stay well-prepared.
Adopting a layered security strategy is essential for businesses, involving the implementation of multiple security measures such as firewalls, antivirus software, and intrusion detection systems to provide comprehensive protection.
For individuals, safeguarding against cyber dangers includes using strong and unique passwords, being cautious while sharing personal information online, and remaining vigilant about potential phishing scams to ensure greater online safety.
Education plays a crucial role in strengthening cybersecurity. Businesses should invest in training their staff to recognise and respond to cybersecurity threats effectively. Additionally, having a well-defined incident response plan ensures a swift and organised reaction to cyber incidents, minimising potential damage.
Regularly testing security systems and conducting vulnerability assessments are essential practices to identify and address potential weaknesses in the network. Keeping software up to date with the latest patches and security updates is a fundamental measure to protect against known vulnerabilities and potential exploits.
“The cybersecurity landscape is continuously evolving, but by taking precautions, organisations and individuals may help keep themselves safe from cyber threats,” Shariffa ends. “Combining various efforts can significantly enhance the cybersecurity posture for both businesses and individuals.”
Trust Building in ASEAN Cybersecurity
David believes that focusing on shared goals is a powerful strategy to build trust and foster collaboration among diverse parties in the realm of cybersecurity. Establishing common objectives, such as protecting critical infrastructure from cyber threats, enables everyone involved to unite their efforts towards a collective purpose, leading to more effective and coordinated cybersecurity measures.
“By aligning interests and recognising mutual benefits, stakeholders can work together in harmony to strengthen cybersecurity and safeguard digital environments,” he says.
Sharing information is indeed a crucial approach to building trust and enhancing cybersecurity efforts among different organisations. While it may be challenging to exchange sensitive data, the benefits of sharing outweigh the risks. Timely and accurate information sharing enables organisations to recognise and respond to cyber threats more swiftly and effectively.
“Cybersecurity is a complex challenge, but we can conquer it if we all work together,” David says. “Organisations can construct a more secure and robust digital infrastructure by breaking down silos across organisations and industries and sharing information.”
David stressed the importance of teamwork in cybersecurity, akin to an international team sport requiring countries to cooperate and work together. Global collaboration with partners worldwide was highlighted, as well as, investing in education and training to raise awareness of cybersecurity risks, and developing new technologies to enhance defence against cyber threats.
“We can make the digital world a safer place for everyone if we all work together,” David is confident.
Shamsul appreciates the necessity of trust for effective cybersecurity collaboration, noting that countries lacking trust are less likely to exchange information or cooperate in responding to cyber threats.
Several initiatives are currently underway in ASEAN to strengthen trust and collaboration among member states. Some of these efforts include:
- The ASEAN Cybersecurity Capacity Building Centres in Thailand and Singapore
- The ASEAN Partners Search Information Sharing (APSIS) initiative
- The ASEAN Cybersecurity Cooperation Strategy, which calls for the establishment of an ASEAN Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT)
“These activities are assisting in the development of trust among ASEAN member states as well as the improvement of the region’s cybersecurity posture,” Shamsul explains. “However, more work remains to be done.”
Establishing a shared understanding of cybersecurity threats and risks presents a key challenge for effective collaboration among ASEAN member states. Different countries may have varying levels of awareness and perception of cyber dangers, making it crucial to bridge the knowledge gap and foster common ground for tackling cybersecurity issues.
Furthermore, ensuring the safe and secure sharing of information is paramount to building trust and promoting collaboration in cybersecurity efforts. Governments and organisations need robust and reliable mechanisms to exchange critical data and threat intelligence without compromising sensitive information or exposing vulnerabilities.
Despite the challenges faced in establishing shared understanding and secure information sharing, the progress made in enhancing cybersecurity collaboration among ASEAN member nations is encouraging. By continuing to work together and build trust, these countries have the potential to create a more secure and resilient digital future for the region.
Shamsul underscored the importance of a “tangible platform” for knowledge sharing, highlighting its role in fostering trust among ASEAN member states and ensuring the secure and confidential exchange of information. Having a reliable and accessible platform can serve as a foundation for effective collaboration, enabling countries to share valuable insights, best practices, and threat intelligence in real-time.
The National Trust Framework serves as a valuable resource for ASEAN countries seeking to enhance their cybersecurity posture, offering a comprehensive set of recommendations to safeguard critical infrastructure, personal data, and sensitive information.
By exploring this framework, ASEAN countries can save time and costs while building a strong cybersecurity architecture, avoiding the need to reinvent the wheel as the framework provides a solid foundation for their efforts.
“ASEAN countries, I believe, may collaborate to localise and harmonise the National Trust Framework,” said Shamsul. “It would enhance the regional cybersecurity architecture and would improve effectiveness and readiness of ASEAN countries against cyber threats.”
According to Shariffa, building effective human firewalls requires confidence in the commitment of individuals and organisations to cybersecurity, which involves open and willing information sharing about security procedures, ultimately fostering trust and creating a safer and more robust digital ecosystem for countries.
ASEAN countries are dedicated to enhancing regional cybersecurity through collaboration, acknowledging their diverse capacities and competencies. They are working on a flexible framework to facilitate cooperation at individual countries’ respective paces.
As a result, ASEAN cybersecurity mechanisms were established to:
- be a valuable resource for ASEAN countries. It will provide them with access to information and expertise that they may not have otherwise had.
- help to improve coordination between ASEAN countries. This will make it easier for them to share information and respond to cyber threats.
- assist in raising awareness of cybersecurity risks in the region to protect individuals and businesses from cyber-attacks.
Shariffa emphasised that the implementation of the mechanism will involve designating a unit within each ASEAN country. This agency will be responsible for collaborating with other ASEAN nations, sharing information on cyber threats and incidents, and providing technical support to other countries.
The creation of this mechanism represents a significant advancement in ASEAN’s efforts to improve cybersecurity. ASEAN countries can better protect themselves from cyber-attacks and build a more secure digital environment for all by working together.
“The creation of the ASEAN cybersecurity mechanism is a great step forward. It demonstrates the region’s dedication to enhancing cybersecurity,” Shariffa ends.
ASEAN’s Commitment to Improve Cybersecurity
David explained that ASEAN’s ministers have approved a plan to establish a regional Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) for the region. The ASEAN CERT will serve as a platform for knowledge sharing and skill-building within the region, complementing the existing national CERTs and working collaboratively to enhance cybersecurity across ASEAN.
The ASEAN CERT will strengthen sharing information about cyber threats and incidents; coordinating CERT capacity building programmes in the region; coming up with and supporting best practices for cybersecurity; and educating people about cybersecurity risks and making them more aware of them.
“The ASEAN CERT is a move in the right direction for the region’s attempts to improve cybersecurity,” said David. “By working together, ASEAN countries can protect themselves better from online threats and make the internet safer for everyone.”
The ASEAN CERT will be a valuable resource for member countries, providing access to knowledge and information that may not have been readily available before. By fostering better collaboration and information sharing among the nations, the ASEAN CERT will enhance their collective ability to address cyber threats effectively and strengthen their cybersecurity posture as a united front.
By providing valuable insights into hacking risks, ASEAN CERT will empower individuals and businesses to better protect themselves from cyber-attacks, contributing to a safer digital environment for all. This initiative showcases the region’s commitment to improving cybersecurity and fostering a collective effort to address cyber threats effectively.
Shamsul shares that the ASEAN CERT will collaborate with both foreign and regional groups to advance ASEAN’s cybersecurity objectives and interests. Currently, there is no official platform for CERTs to communicate with one another, making it vital for ASEAN CERTs to foster collaboration, share knowledge, and exchange best practices.
“This collective effort will strengthen the region’s ability to address cyber threats effectively and establish a more secure digital landscape for all ASEAN member states,” he is confident.
The ASEAN CERT will establish partnerships with businesses and higher education institutions, appreciating the valuable information and expertise they possess to enhance cybersecurity. Collaborating with these sectors ensures access to the latest knowledge and skills, enabling ASEAN CERTs to effectively address emerging cyber threats and trends.
By fostering these alliances, the ASEAN CERT can stay at the forefront of cybersecurity advancements, making the region more resilient and better equipped to safeguard its digital landscape.
Shamsul concurs that the establishment of the ASEAN CERT marks a significant advancement in ASEAN’s efforts to enhance cybersecurity. Through collaboration with international and regional organisations, as well as industry and education sectors, the ASEAN CERT can play a crucial role in creating a safer digital environment for everyone in the region.
By fostering partnerships and sharing knowledge, the ASEAN CERT aims to bolster cybersecurity measures, effectively respond to cyber threats, and promote a more secure digital landscape in the ASEAN community.
Shariffa reiterated support for ASEAN initiatives like ASEAN CERT, highlighting that the Malaysian government is actively engaged in strengthening cybersecurity measures. They are currently working on a new Cybersecurity Bill aimed at granting the National Cyber Security Agency (NACSA) enhanced authority to safeguard the nation’s critical infrastructure from cyberattacks.
The proposed Cybersecurity Bill in Malaysia seeks to enforce robust security measures for critical national information infrastructure (CNII) owners and operators. By mandating appropriate security measures, the bill has the potential to significantly enhance Malaysia’s cybersecurity posture, bolstering the nation’s resilience against cyber threats and safeguarding its vital information assets.
Shariffa explains that the proposed Cybersecurity Bill aims to grant NACSA expanded investigative and response capabilities, while also imposing a requirement for CNII owners and operators to implement robust security measures.
This comprehensive approach would significantly bolster the protection of Malaysia’s critical infrastructure from cyberattacks, thereby reducing the risk of cyber espionage and enhancing the nation’s overall cybersecurity resilience.
Shariffa sees the proposed Cybersecurity Bill as a positive and transformative step that has the potential to make Malaysia a more secure nation in the digital age.
“With its comprehensive measures to strengthen cybersecurity, the bill can significantly enhance Malaysia’s resilience against cyber threats and safeguard the nation’s critical infrastructure and digital ecosystem,” she believes.
The CYDES 2023 event showcased the determination of ASEAN nations to address cybersecurity challenges and advance in this critical domain. With a focus on cooperation, a wealth of cybersecurity expertise and initiatives like the ASEAN CERT, the region is taking substantial steps towards enhancing its cybersecurity posture.
By continuing to invest in cybersecurity measures, fostering collaboration among member states, and leveraging their unique assets, ASEAN countries are well-positioned to create a safer and more secure digital environment for their residents and businesses in the ever-evolving digital age. Together, they can forge a path towards a more resilient and protected ASEAN region in the face of emerging cyber threats.
Two countries with long histories and similar ideals, Singapore and the UK, are starting a new phase of cooperation that will significantly alter the digital environment. Their recent announcement of a Strategic Partnership demonstrates their shared commitment to innovation, prosperity, and peace in the Asia-Pacific area.
Economic cooperation is the cornerstone of international relations; hence, Singapore and the UK are dedicated to strengthening their economic connections citing that digital trade and the digital economy are essential to this commitment.
The United Kingdom-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (UKSDEA) and the United Kingdom-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (UKSFTA) are agreements that aim to foster an atmosphere that encourages digital innovation in addition to lowering tariffs.
A crucial component of the modern digital economy, cross-border data transfers are being explored by Singapore and the UK. To ensure that people and businesses can easily navigate the digital landscape, they also seek to encourage the adoption of interoperable digital technologies. Their goal is to expedite their digital transformation journeys by sharing best practices.
Nowadays, where cyber threats are just as serious as physical ones, the UK-Singapore cooperation understands the need to strengthen its defence and cybersecurity capacities. The strategies used by malevolent actors in the digital sphere also change as technology does.
To defend against new digital threats, the two countries plan to modernise the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) and increase their defence cooperation. In this endeavour, closer communication on threat assessments and deterrent tactics is essential.
Additionally, both nations’ Ministries of Defence are included in the cooperation, with an emphasis on addressing hybrid threats in the information, digital, and cyber domains. This partnership aims to make the globe a safer, more stable place in addition to defending national interests.
Singapore and the UK are dedicated to promoting sustainability and combating climate change. Their strategic alliance reaches into the field of innovation and technology to promote change in these domains.
Two countries are working to decarbonise economic activity through the United Kingdom-Singapore Green Economy Framework (UKSGEF). This project includes carbon markets, sustainable financing, green transport, and low-carbon energy technology. Further, the creation of a Green Skills Corridor highlights how crucial a skilled labour force is to sustainable sectors.
It is remarkable how well they work together on investments and sustainable infrastructure. Their objective is to improve the energy security and resilience of the area by providing funding for low-carbon energy and energy transition initiatives. This complex project includes upstream project development and creative finance options.
Singapore and the UK are at the forefront of creating solutions to global concerns because they are leaders in research, science, innovation, and technology. They demonstrate their dedication to innovation via their updated Science, Innovation, and Technology Partnership.
This collaboration encompasses important and cutting-edge technologies including engineering biology and artificial intelligence (AI). To ensure the proper and moral application of these revolutionary technologies, both countries aim to work together to create international standards for them.
Their common dedication to cybersecurity is demonstrated by their cooperation on Internet of Things (IoT) security, app security, and cyber skills development. They apply their scientific and technological prowess to confront global issues like pandemics and climate change to improve civilisation.
An essential component of this alliance is also strengthening public-sector collaboration. Both nations hope to gain knowledge and strengthen their respective capacities by hosting yearly Public Service Roundtables at the level of Permanent Secretaries, which will benefit both parties as well as the larger international community.
Also, their dedication to global development and the enhancement of culture and education is demonstrated by their participation in capacity-building initiatives and cultural exchanges with underdeveloped nations.
A groundbreaking partnership between Monash University and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) resulted in a cutting-edge research centre known as the AI for Law Enforcement and Community Safety Lab (AiLECS). The lab harnesses artificial intelligence (AI) to drive technology-based initiatives that support law enforcement efforts and enhance safety within local and global communities, particularly in the digital realm.
The official launch of AiLECS marked a significant milestone in the realm of AI and law enforcement. The event was graced by AiLECS Co-Directors Associate Professor Campbell Wilson from Monash University and AFP Leading Senior Constable Dr. Janis Dalins, alongside Monash University Interim Vice-Chancellor and the AFP’s Deputy Commissioner.
The AiLECS Co-Director highlighted the transformative impact of emerging technologies on information accessibility and content creation. He underscored that the same technologies that offer tremendous potential for social good can also be misused, leading to a surge in cyber-attacks, identity theft, exploitation, and the proliferation of misinformation.
The research undertaken at AiLECS is at the forefront of leveraging machine learning, natural language processing, network analysis, and other AI techniques to empower law enforcement. Its scope encompasses countering child abuse material, detecting and classifying illegal firearms, identifying misinformation, and analysing expansive online criminal networks. An essential aspect of their work is the ethical sourcing of datasets to ensure that the AI systems they develop are not only effective but also responsible.
AiLECS originally emerged as a research lab in 2019 and has since initiated several projects aimed at bolstering community safety and providing support to law enforcement agencies. Monash University’s Interim President and Vice-Chancellor hailed AiLECS as a beacon of technological expertise leading the way in creating resilient and responsible initiatives. She stressed that these initiatives are pivotal in fostering safer and thriving communities worldwide.
In addition to the Monash University AI and technology scientists, the research centre boasts a diverse team that includes representatives from the AFP and seasoned experts with experience in law enforcement. Notable among them is Professor Jon Rouse APM, renowned for his pioneering work in countering child exploitation and his former leadership of the globally acclaimed ‘Taskforce Argos’ within the Queensland Police Service.
The Deputy Commissioner of the AFP emphasised the critical importance of this collaboration in combating tech-savvy criminals. These individuals increasingly leverage technology to facilitate illegal activities, which pose significant challenges to national security, social harmony, and economic stability. She pointed out that the partnership also aims to address pressing concerns related to privacy, AI, and machine learning to ensure that these technologies are deployed responsibly for the benefit of society.
The other Co-Director of AiLECS and a Leading Senior Constable in the AFP underscored the necessity for law enforcement agencies to actively engage with emerging technologies. He emphasised that through this partnership, AiLECS aims to merge cutting-edge research in AI and machine learning with the principles and expertise of law enforcement, becoming a leading voice for ethics and accountability in AI.
An example of AiLECS’s collaborative efforts is Project Metior Telum. In this project, Monash researchers, in collaboration with the AFP and an industry partner, have harnessed photogrammetry and 3D scanning technology to construct a comprehensive digital library of firearms.
This digital resource enables the rapid development of next-generation tools to detect and combat firearms trafficking. With Metior Telum, every element of the firearm library, from ownership records to specific models, can be meticulously traced.
The AFP, through the Commonwealth Confiscated Assets Account, has extended support to AiLECS Lab activities through a generous four-year funding program. Monash University has also made substantial contributions to this initiative, emphasising the importance of this collaboration in advancing technology and AI for the greater good of law enforcement and community safety.
The Department of Science and Technology – Advanced Science and Technology Institute’s (DOST-ASTI) Meteorological Data Acquisition Stations for Information Dissemination (MASID) team has introduced the PhilSensors application, enhancing services available on their platform. Ease-of-use is at the forefront of this innovation, allowing users to effortlessly access crucial rainfall and water level information. This is a game-changer for both individuals planning journeys and first responders managing disasters.
The app boasts a range of features, including the ability to search for specific and nearby sensors or stations collectively referred to as PhilSensors. Additionally, users can view various map layers showcasing data on rainfall, water levels, wind patterns, air temperature, and air pressure. The app also enables users to manage their preferred PhilSensors and receive timely notifications for events like heavy rains, high temperatures, and fluctuations in water levels.
Albert Francisco, the main developer, emphasises the team’s commitment to incorporating user feedback into ongoing app development. Looking ahead, they are exploring the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) analytics. This exciting prospect aims to unearth valuable insights, identify new patterns, and establish connections within the sensor data.
Further, the features introduced in the app have been seamlessly integrated into the website, ensuring a consistent experience across multiple devices for long-standing organisational partners and new users alike. Presently, the app is exclusively available for Android users through the Google Play Store, with potential plans for an iOS launch soon.
Since its inception in 2010, DOST-ASTI’s local experts have meticulously crafted a network of hydrometeorological and early warning stations collectively known as PhilSensors. These strategically positioned stations, totaling over 2,000 nationwide, serve as critical resources in disaster-prone regions.
They play a pivotal role in providing real-time data for weather forecasts, flood monitoring, and agrometeorology. The wealth of information collected from these PhilSensors is promptly made available to the public through the dedicated PhilSensors website and app.
The launch of the PhilSensors app marks a significant milestone in enhancing accessibility to vital weather-related information. By combining cutting-edge technology with user-centric design, the MASID team at DOST-ASTI is empowering individuals, responders, and communities with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions, particularly in times of crisis.
As the app continues to evolve, incorporating AI analytics, the potential for even more valuable insights into weather patterns and trends is on the horizon. This innovative initiative stands as a testament to the power of technology in safeguarding lives and property in the face of natural disasters.
Mobile apps have revolutionised weather data access, offering unmatched convenience and personalised experiences. With the ability to provide up-to-the-minute updates, these apps keep users informed about rapidly changing weather conditions. Their user-friendly interfaces, complete with graphs and charts, simplify complex data for users of all ages.
Moreover, mobile apps are not limited to personal use; they have a profound impact on various sectors. Farmers benefit from specialised agricultural forecasts, enabling them to optimise their practices. Outdoor enthusiasts rely on these apps for safe and enjoyable activities. Industries such as construction and aviation depend on accurate weather data for decision-making and risk management.
In education, mobile apps aid students, researchers, and meteorologists in understanding weather patterns and climate science. They also raise environmental awareness by including air quality and pollution indices. These apps foster global cooperation during weather events and play a critical role in emergency preparedness, providing real-time updates for timely actions.