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Transition to Zero-trust for Singapore Government

OpenGov Asia attended a panel discussion on the transition to zero-trust for the Singapore government held by GovTech Singapore on June 21. The panel discussion was moderated by Chai Chin Loon, Senior Director, Cybersecurity Group, GovTech. GovTech Singapore invited two panellists, Yum Shoen Yih, Director, Cyber Security Agency (CSA) and Avinash Lotke, Head of Security Solutions, APJ, Microsoft

To kickstart the discussion, Chai explained the basic principles of zero trust which encapsulate least-privilege, control access and limitation of lateral movement. In transitioning from traditional-based to zero-trust architecture, governments have to optimise administration as a manual approach is not efficient. The adoption of zero-trust is promising for the future, so the question is how governments and enterprises transition to zero-trust successfully.

Yum then discussed the adoption of zero-trust in the governments, big and small businesses, as well as individuals. He clarified the definition of zero-trust which is not trusting anybody, but not to trust by default. Zero-trust is a security framework requiring all users, whether in or outside the organisation’s network, to be authenticated, authorised, and continuously validated for security configuration and posture before being granted or keeping access to applications and data.

Yum emphasised that trust is a journey and currently most people usually highlight the principle of zero-trust. Only a few big companies have already given detailed implementation and full coverage of the necessary technology for implementing zero-trust. CSA analysed that most of the cybersecurity problems are rooted in the software that the cyber attackers use. If the agencies can control the software, the problem can be mitigated as well.

Regarding small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and individuals, the solution must have the ability to map all the software and processes in the environment. In the zero-trust model, CSA created a trust list for the small business and individual environment to verify which activities, software, or applications have been authorised.  By having the trust list, agencies have two levels of verification, the foreign software by the attackers can be detected quickly before more damage has been done.

Avinash then talked about how the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of zero-trust as the existing network could not adapt to the change.

These are three keys of zero-trust:

  • Verify explicitly: Always authenticate and authorise based on all available data points, including user identity, location, device health, service or workload, data classification, and anomalies.
  • Grant least privileges: Limit user access with just-in-time and just-enough-access, risk-based adaptive policies, and data protection to help secure both data and productivity.
  • Assume breach: Minimise blast radius and segment access. Verify end-to-end encryption and use analytics to get visibility, drive threat detection, and improve defences. If agencies are not sure if there is an attacker in the network, always assume the attackers are already inside. These principles help maintain high-level cybersecurity at all times.

On being asked about the challenges in transitioning to zero-trust, Avinash explained that Microsoft has a structured approach to zero-trust. The effort spans many technologies and organisations as well as requires investments that will carry over multiple years. The strategy is centred on strong user identity, device health verification, and secure, least-privilege access to corporate resources and services, all backed by rich data insights that reduce the risk of unauthorised lateral movement across the corporate network.

Experts in other countries also recommend zero-trust principles to combat ransomware threats. As reported by OpenGov Asia, in the light of many cyberattacks, the U.S. government has resorted to zero-trust security, their model that assumes all traffic on a network could be a threat and requires every user to be authenticated and authorised before being granted access to any sensitive application or data.

While zero-trust security doesn’t protect networks from every possible attack, it reduces risk, speeds up threat detection and closes gaps in visibility. It is tailor-made for a world where cloud computing and an ever-increasing number of mobile devices are increasing the network attack surface and demanding finer-grain security controls.


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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.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.


Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.


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.


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. 


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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