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Enhancing Singapore's Secure and Trusted Hub Status with Second Infocomm Security Masterplan

17 April 2008 - Speech By Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister For Community Development, Youth And Sports, At The Infocomm Security Seminar 2008, Suntec International Convention & Exhibition Centre

Speech By Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister For Community Development, Youth And Sports, At The Infocomm Security Seminar 2008
17 April 2008, 9.05am, Suntec International Convention & Exhibition Centre

Mr Peter Ho, Head of Civil Service,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Infocomm Security is Pivotal to Singapore's Growth

1. Good morning. I am glad and pleasantly surprised to see so many of you here today. Perhaps this also illustrates the importance of the theme of this seminar. We all know that infocomm technology pervades almost everything we do today, whether we seek information, communicate, transact, or for leisure and social networking purposes. Particularly in Singapore, where our broadband penetration rate is so high, one in two businesses uses broadband while our household broadband penetration stands at almost 80 per cent1.

2. This figure will rise further. I am sure most of you have heard about our Intelligent Nation 2015 or iN2015 masterplan. This will result in pervasive and ubiquitous use of infocomm technology, with all its attendant benefits and but also risks. But the key attributes of any system that we have will be security, reliability and trust.

Achievements of the First Infocomm Security Masterplan

3. Over the last three years, our first Infocomm Security Masterplan has contributed significantly to creating a more secure environment, particularly the public sector, which is where we focused on initially. Let me give an example. We have a Cyber Watch Centre and this operates 24/7 to enable the Government to better anticipate and respond to cyber attacks by continuous monitoring of the situation. The first Masterplan has also helped to boost our people's confidence in using e-government infrastructure. Last year, we found that nine out of 10 people who transacted with the Government did so electronically at least once in the past 12 months2.

4. Such efforts to enhance Singapore's reputation as a secure and trusted hub have also contributed to the positive business climate and confidence in establishing operations in Singapore. In the 2007 IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook survey, Singapore was ranked first out of 55 economies for the degree to which cyber security is being addressed by corporations3.

The Next Infocomm Security Masterplan

5. Following the successes of the first masterplan, I am happy to announce the launch of the second, new Infocomm Security Masterplan today. This plan will now have a five-year time frame to enhance our infocomm security efforts and strengthen Singapore's position as a secure and trusted infocomm hub. While the first Masterplan aimed largely at providing the public sector with measures to counter infocomm security threats, the second Masterplan will expand on that and engage both the public and private sectors even more deeply in securing Singapore's cyber space. Over the next five years, IDA, together with the industry, will be investing a further $70 million into infocomm security programmes under this new Masterplan.

6. The Government and the industry have been working closely to identify areas that need to be enhanced. Work has already started on some of the new initiatives and I will describe a few of them today.

Singapore's Infocomm Security Competencies

7. Firstly, for infocomm security professionals, I am pleased to announce the launch of the Association of Information Security Professionals (AISP), which will be the first in Asia to provide accreditation for those in the profession. This will help facilitate standardised qualifications and career development programmes in order to make sure that our infocomm security practitioners maintain their sharpness and industry standards. To date, more than 120 members have come on board the AISP and a total of 900 members is expected by 2011. The AISP will help to elevate the standing, professionalism, and trust accorded to infocomm security professionals based in Singapore.

8. Secondly, we also want to inculcate appreciation of the importance of infocomm security amongst our young people, who are perhaps our most avid users of infocomm technology. Our students need to understand the complexities and opportunities available in this field. Consequently, the IDA has partnered additional infocomm companies, to offer scholarships for infocomm security to enable students to learn the craft at both top local and international universities.

9. These scholarships will be an expansion of the current National Infocomm Scholarship Programme, and will offer students a unique opportunity to be nurtured, mentored and exposed to the latest and best in this field. The programmes will include mentorship with companies and overseas work attachments of up to six months. As a start, there will be up to 20 scholarships available over the next five years.

10. The work in infocomm security is not only confined to infocomm security professionals. As infocomm becomes part of everyone's lives, it will also become everyone's responsibility. The third initiative to raise infocomm security competency will be through the new Cyber-Security Awareness Alliance. The Government, in partnership with infocomm companies and trade associations, will collaborate to enhance the awareness and adoption of infocomm security measures at home and in businesses. And we really need everyone to become mindful of security practices at home, in school or in the office. This is because it is only when there is universal awareness and consciousness, will we then make it more difficult for cyber attacks to be launched and propagated.

Resilience of National Infocomm Infrastructure and Services

11. The new Infocomm Security Masterplan will also build greater resilience for our infrastructure in the public as well as private sector. We will conduct cyber security exercises that will involve the public and private sectors. We will participate in crisis scenarios, like a massive distributed denial-of-service attack, to better assess if we are fully prepared and equipped to recover from a full-scale cyber attack. Such exercises should also help us to anticipate the blind spots in our defences, and will boost Singapore's overall emergency readiness and responsiveness to these attacks.

12. We recognise that each economic sector has its unique security requirements. Therefore, another initiative in the masterplan is the Sector-specific Infocomm Security Programme, to develop tailor-made programmes to address the specific needs of each sector. For a start, we have identified that the Infocomm and Energy sectors are two of the most critical sectors that need such an approach. But as time goes on, we will obviously identify other sectors and also get to work on them.

International Collaboration

13. Last year, I mentioned that the new Masterplan will have greater emphasis on forging Singapore's international collaborations. I am happy to share that the new Masterplan will build on this to enhance the competency and resilience of our infocomm environment by working with our partners overseas. Given the borderless nature of the Web, we all know that cyber threats can emanate from anywhere and continue to be propagated from anywhere and seek victims all over the world.

14. Singapore will therefore step up the exchange of information and collaboration with other countries to counter global cyber threats. This will facilitate the mutual exchange of information and best practices on cyber security, and allow us overall to have a more secure and trusted system.

15. As part of this, Singapore will be hosting the Meridian 2008 Conference for the first time in October. At this international conference, government officials from around the world will converge to exchange ideas and best practices in the protection of critical infocomm infrastructure. I believe such collaborative and international efforts will indeed bode well for our infocomm-enabled future.

Everyone Has A Part to Play In Cyber Defence

16. So let me say again in closing that I am pleased to see so many of you here. I am glad that you recognise that this is a clear and imminent challenge that confronts us but also gives us many, many opportunities, both in terms of enhancing security, building professionalism in the sector and making sure that even as we unlock the opportunities in the future, we have got the keys and the system that works.

17. On that note, I wish you all a most fruitful time here. Thank you very much.


1 Statistics on Telecom Services for 2008 (Jan - Jun) as at February 2008

2 Annual e-Government Customer Perception Survey Conducted in 2007

3 The World Competitiveness Yearbook, 2007, IMD, Switzerland,

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