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Launch Of The Infocomm Security Masterplan

22 February 2005 - Opening Address By Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Security and Defence At Infocomm Security Seminar 2005, The Auditorium, Matrix Building, Biopolis.

Opening Address By Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Security and Defence At Infocomm Security Seminar 2005 on 22 February 2005, The Auditorium, Matrix Building, Biopolis.

1. Since September 11th, 2001, Singapore has beefed up its defences against chemical, biological and radiological threats. We have also strengthened security in the land, aviation and maritime sectors.

2. Today, I would like to talk about security in cyberspace. Because Singapore is so connected and networked, a comprehensive plan for Singapore's infocomm security is vital to prevent our economy and society from being disrupted in the event of an attack on our infocomm infrastructure.

The Infocomm Environment

3. Our country has come a long way in exploiting and deploying infocomm technology to advance our progress. Today, the use of infocomm technology is pervasive in all economic sectors in Singapore. It has become a key enabler for individuals, businesses, and government agencies.

4. Singapore is recognised today as a global leader in the adoption and use of infocomm technology. In terms of network readiness, we were ranked second in the world in 2004, after the United States. Just recently, we were short-listed as one of the world's top seven Intelligent Communities by the Intelligent Community Forum.

5. In Singapore businesses, four out of five companies have adopted some form of infocomm technology and three out of four have access to the Internet. The overall use of electronic commerce has increased steadily over the years, with about half of all companies engaging in some form of online trade. In Singapore homes, one in every two persons is an Internet user. We are seeing a growing trend of people going online to work, learn and play.

6. The adoption of infocomm technology has increased convenience, reduced cost, raised quality of services, and created new revenue for our people and businesses. However, infocomm technology can also be exploited by criminals, terrorists and irresponsible hackers to cause harm and create mischief. One example is the persistent attempts of "phishing" emails to trick Internet users in Singapore to divulge their user IDs and passwords.

Cyber Terrorism - The Dark Side of ICT

7. Terrorists are increasingly using infocomm technology and the Internet as a tool to seek funds, recruit members, spread propaganda and plan attacks with members in different parts of the world. Imam Samudra, the Jemaah Islamiah member who was responsible for the bombing in Bali in October 2002, has even written a book in which he urges his fellow radicals to learn "hacking". On 13 October 2004, CNET Asia reported North Korea's declaration that they have built an army of "cyber warriors". When used by someone with ill intentions, the dark side of infocomm technology can wreak havoc in cyber space. This is cyber terrorism.

8. Some experts believe that conflicts in the future will likely be fought on two fronts - the traditional physical battlefield and the emerging battlefield in cyberspace. So, while efforts to strengthen our physical infrastructure continue to be crucial, similar efforts are needed to protect our infocomm infrastructure against hostile attacks in cyberspace.

Securing the Infocomm Environment

9. We cannot afford to treat the threats from cyber terrorists, cyber criminals and irresponsible hackers lightly. Over the years, infocomm technology has become an intricate component of infrastructure in critical sectors like finance, energy, water resources, telecommunication, healthcare and transport. It is no exaggeration to say that the nation's infocomm infrastructure has become the nerve system of our economy.

10. Attacks in cyberspace can come fast and furious. Unlike random acts of nature, an invasion in cyberspace is purposeful, targeting at the weaknesses of a system. Cyber attacks can seriously damage a country's economy if they are able to penetrate and attack critical infrastructure like the maritime navigational systems, the country's stock exchange or the telecommunications networks. We must do all we can to prevent such attacks. Infocomm security is as important in protecting Singapore as is physical security at our borders.

The Infocomm Security Masterplan

11. Recognising the importance of infocomm security, the Government will invest about S$38 million over three years (2005 to 2007) to implement the Infocomm Security Masterplan.

12. Developed under the guidance of the high-level multi-agency National Infocomm Security Committee (NISC), the Infocomm Security Masterplan is a strategic roadmap that charts Singapore's national efforts to develop capabilities to prevent cyber security incidents, to protect our critical infrastructure from cyber threats, and to respond swiftly to recover from actual attacks.

Key Capabilities in Infocomm Security

13. The National Infocomm Security Masterplan will augment current capabilities and develop new capabilities in three key areas:

First, in the area of assuring information protection and risk mitigation;
Second, in the area of situational awareness and contingency planning; and
Third, in the development of human and intellectual capital, including enhancing cyber security awareness among Internet users, the development of professional skills and the promotion of research & development in infocomm security.

14. These capabilities are critical in providing individuals and enterprises with the necessary skills and competencies to prevent, detect and recover from cyber attacks.

Partnership is Key

15. To achieve these goals for infocomm security at the national level, the effort cannot be left to the Government alone. At today's seminar, we have invited top management from the key industry and business sectors to participate in ensuring our infocomm security.

16. We need a strategic change in how infocomm security is handled. In the past, moderate efforts have been made to protect and secure infocomm infrastructure. But given our country's extensive use of infocomm, company leaders and decision-makers like you must appreciate the importance of infocomm security, and be strong advocates of this initiative.

17. Infocomm users can start by treating infocomm security as a necessary and inevitable part of their business operations. This means they will have to make adequate provisions to secure and maintain the integrity of their organisation's infocomm systems. They will also need to ensure business continuity even after a disaster has struck. This means ensuring the timely delivery of services and information to their customers and providing the confidentiality that their customers require.

18. Developers of infocomm products and services can also play a part by keeping security on the front burner. This means that they have to continuously update the security features in their products and services, and make use of new protection technologies to further enhance the resiliency of their product and service offerings.

Creating a Cyber Security Haven

19. The Infocomm Security Masterplan is a major step forward in the never-ending effort to make cyberspace a safer place for all of us. I encourage the industry, critical infocomm infrastructure owners and operators to participate and support the Masterplan. We need you to play your part in order to achieve our vision for a safe cyberspace for all - one in which e-government, e-commerce and e-society can flourish.

20. Today, many countries have realised the benefits of a connected society, but none has yet to attain a reputation for being a secured one. Singapore has an excellent reputation for being one of the world's most networked ready countries and safest cities. With the Infocomm Security Masterplan, we can become one of the world's leading countries with a cyber-safe environment. I believe that working together, we will succeed in this effort.

21. I wish all of you a fruitful seminar.