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New cyber-security tool to protect Singaporeans' phones

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Move comes amid growing number of cases of cyber criminals targeting mobile devices

A new mobile tool for Singaporeans to secure their smartphones from cyber-security threats is being developed by the Government and industry partners.

This comes amid growing cases of cyber criminals targeting mobile devices as people are becoming more reliant on these gadgets, said the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA).

The tool is one of the initiatives outlined in Singapore's new cyber-security strategy that was announced yesterday by Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean. He was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Singapore International Cyber Week at the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort.

The new strategy updates and builds on the first one launched in 2016 by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as the cyber landscape has changed significantly over the last five years.

For instance, more people and businesses have gone digital, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which also exposes them to more cyber threats, said SM Teo.

"This strategy articulates Singapore's approach to safeguarding our wider cyberspace in an increasingly complex environment," he added.

Details of the new cyber-security mobile tool will be available only later, but CSA said the product will uphold people's personal privacy.

"The Government will support enterprises by making cyber-security resources available - from free self-help tools to cost-effective solutions provided in partnership with the cyber-security industry," said CSA.

These efforts come under a prong of the cyber-security strategy to enable a safe cyberspace. Under this, CSA seeks to offer cyber security to the masses. CSA said the Government will also aim to make the use of cyber-security solutions easy and convenient. To achieve this, it will work with the industry to develop innovative "plug and play" cyber-security solutions for users.

The latest cyber-security strategy comes after cyber threats here have risen.

For instance, the number of "zombie" devices linked to the Internet and infected with malware that allows hackers to control them and launch cyber attacks tripled here last year amid the pandemic.

There were 6,600 such devices observed on a daily basis in 2020, up from 2,300 in 2019.

In light of such incidents, building infrastructure that is resilient against cyber threats is another thrust of the new strategy. The Government will review regulations to see if they can be used to safeguard entities and systems beyond critical information infrastructure (CII) that may not deliver essential services but provide vital ones that support the nation's digital economy and way of life.

This is a shift from the 2016 strategy, which placed an emphasis on strengthening the cyber defences of CII, including telecommunication networks and public transport systems.