22 October 2008 - Keynote Address By Mr Peter Ho, Head Of Civil Service And Chairman Of The National Infocomm Security Committee At The Meridian Conference 2008, Marina Mandarin Hotel
Keynote Address By Mr Peter Ho, Head Of Civil Service And Chairman Of The National Infocomm Security Committee At The Meridian Conference 2008, Marina Mandarin Hotel, 22 October 2008, 1.30 pm
1. Welcome to Singapore and to the Meridian Conference 2008. The first Conference was held in the United Kingdom in 2005. Policy-makers like you met to discuss issues in Critical Information Infrastructure Protection, or CIIP in short. Since then, the Conference convened in Hungary, Sweden, and now for the fourth time in Singapore. The Meridian Conference promotes the sharing of knowledge and experience in CIIP among policy-makers from around the world.
Importance of CIIP
2. Around the world, interest in CIIP is growing. This stems from two key trends, firstly, the pervasiveness of information and communication technology (or ICT), and secondly, and the cross-border nature of cyber threats. Many sectors critical to economic activity and social well-being, such as energy, finance and transport, depend heavily on ICT in their operations. Disruption and damage from a CII failure can result in the loss of millions, if not billions, of dollars, and even of lives. The consequences to nations are serious and potentially catastrophic, both economically as well as from a national security perspective. No responsible government today can afford to ignore CIIP.
CIIP in Singapore
3. The Singapore Government takes CIIP very seriously. We have to, as ICT is a key engine of growth in our country. It is deeply embedded in our economic and social systems. ICT has been instrumental in enhancing the way we live, learn, work and play.
4. For instance, we have deployed a nationwide Wi-Fi network, called Wireless@SG, to catalyse the development of the wireless broadband market. This service, which is provided free, allows access the Internet anytime and anywhere, at cafes and even at busy shopping belts like Orchard Road. Please take advantage of Wireless@SG during your stay in Singapore.
5. We are also implementing a Next Generation National Broadband Network that will provide all homes and businesses in Singapore with ultra-high speed broadband connectivity by 2012.
6. Given the pervasive use of ICT in Singapore, CIIP is a foundation of our national development. It is a key component in Singapore’s second Infocomm Security Masterplan. This five-year masterplan was launched in April this year with the aim of further enhancing the resilience and availability of our national infocomm infrastructure and services against cyber threats.
7. To achieve this, we are working with the private sector to strengthen the security of our infocomm infrastructure. This can be done through enhancing security situational awareness and raising the level of infocomm security practices, especially in critical sectors such as energy and telecommunications. As each sector will also have its unique security requirements, a one-size-fits-all solution will not suffice. Under our second Masterplan, the Government, together with the private sector, will jointly look into sector-specific approaches to securing our CII.
8. Equally important is the need to ensure that our people are well-equipped with ICT security competencies. Members from the public and private sectors have formed a Cyber Security Awareness Alliance that will develop programmes to promote the awareness and adoption of essential ICT security practices among end-users.
9. Our Masterplan also looks at boosting the competencies of security professionals. The Association of Information Security Professionals is a Government and industry collaboration which aims to transform infocomm security into a well-regarded profession, and to build a critical pool of competent infocomm security professionals who subscribe to the highest professional standards.
Meridian as a Platform for International CIIP Collaboration
10. I believe you would have similar initiatives in your respective countries. This is where the Meridian process is invaluable. It offers a platform for government policy-makers from around the world to come together to learn from each another.
Conference Theme: CIIP Policies in Action
11. The theme for this year’s Meridian Conference is “CIIP Policies in Action”. While CIIP policies may be conceptually sound, they must also be practical and suitable for implementation in a real-world setting. In order to generate more insights at this conference, the programme committee has brought together speakers to cover topics on common challenges currently faced by policy makers. These include issues of balancing security and financial costs and fostering greater public-private partnerships. Panel discussions, interactive workshops and site visits have also been arranged to facilitate the exchange of ideas and opinions. The perspectives gathered should help to guide you towards developing more comprehensive policies.
Singapore's Commitment to Meridian
12. Singapore strongly supports the Meridian process. As the incoming President of the Meridian process, Singapore will lead a Meridian Working Group to explore and develop opportunities for cross-border collaboration. I am pleased that Australia, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States have already agreed to be members of this Working Group. Working together, we can advance the Meridian process to make our world, physical and cyber, a safer place for all.
13. On this note, I wish all of you a fruitful time in the Meridian Conference 2008 and an enjoyable stay in Singapore. Thank you.