Singapore to galvanise security in public sector

A meeting of government officials and industry experts in Singapore is being held to develop cyber-security and data handling procedures to strengthen data protection for members of the public, reports reveal.

In a recent statement, the government said it has put together a dedicated committee, chaired by deputy prime minister Teo Chee Hean, who also heads data governance and national security.

The committee will open consultations with overseas experts, industry leaders in the private and public sectors, before proposing new technical processes designed to strengthen the practices the Singaporean government employs in dealing with citizens’ data and responding to breaches.

The news comes after a busy twelve months on the international data protection landscape that has yielded a number of high-profile data breaches in the ASEAN region.

In October of last year, Hong Kong’s flagship air carrier, Cathay Pacific announced that a hack on its internal systems had led to the personal data of around 10 million travellers being compromised, with information lost including passport details, credit card numbers, names and email addresses.

In early 2019, Singapore’s health ministry disclosed a data breach that saw the details of around 14,200 of the nation’s HIV-positive citizens were exposed online.

In the face of a rising tide of cyber-crime, the ASEAN nations are in the process of developing data law to align with improving international standards. Accordingly, measures have been taken by Singapore government in recent years, with the regime implementing the internet surfing separation policy 2016. The following year, new laws ensured that only devices with proper authorisation would be able to access USB port functionality.

More in-depth internal IT audits are now being carried out to ensure safer data access for agencies, building on governmental measures put in place last year to deal with cyber-threats with more efficiency

Despite these efforts, the Singapore government has acknowledged the urgent need to keep developing data security practices and protection confidence in the public sector.

In an official statement, it said:

“While individual agencies are investigating and taking action on the specific incidents, this committee will undertake a comprehensive review and incorporate industry and global best practices to strengthen data security across the public sector.

The findings of the committee will be presented to the prime minister before 30th November 2019.

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