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Winning the cybersecurity arms race

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Government action necessary to address cybersecurity concerns, but private sector must also make improvements

Singapore has been quick to embrace advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and data analytics.

As a result, Singapore is the only Asean nation considered a "Stand Out Country" in the World Economic Forum's Digital Evolution Index.

This competitiveness extends globally as Singapore ranks at the top of the Economist Intelligence Unit Technological Readiness Ranking.

Unfortunately, rapid digitalisation and increased connectivity also makes Singapore a key target for cyber criminals.


Recognising the severity of such cyber threats, Singapore's Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced a $22.7 billion investment - approximately 30 per cent of the Government's total expenditure - to support defence, security and diplomacy efforts, including protection against malicious cyberthreats.

In addition, the Singapore Government is taking steps to promote cybersecurity training, industry and preparedness.

Digital Defence was introduced as the sixth pillar of Singapore's Total Defence strategy, ensuring everyone - individuals, community groups, the government and private organisations - will have a role to play.

The Government also established the Home Team Science and Technology Agency.

The agency's mission is to transform the private security industry through innovation and technology, as well as the continuous engagement via initiatives like the Government Bug Bounty Programme.


Government action is needed to address cybersecurity issues, but the private sector must also make improvements to their systems. After all, the information collected, stored and managed by businesses is the primary target for cyber criminals.

This includes everything from customer and employee information, product designs and other intellectual property, financial information, to machine-to-machine or Internet of Things data.

Protecting all of this information is a serious challenge. The complexity of business environments has led to an increasing number of cyberthreats.

The problem is further compounded by the challenge of finding skilled security personnel.

Working in such an environment, organisations need better technology solutions.

Detection and response tools must work more quickly and at enterprise scale.

Organisations also require powerful systems to manage digital identity for people, systems and things.

And finally, training is needed to help employees respond to cyber attacks, like programmes the Government uses with public sector employees.


With malicious cyber activities growing steadily, it is important that the Government, private industry and technology providers continue to support innovation at scale in Singapore, without sacrificing critical security for our information and citizens. The Singaporean Government has kickstarted this, acknowledging the need to safeguard digital assets, which is a vital move for a rapidly digitalising nation.

The writer is vice-president - Asia-Pacific at OpenText, an enterprise information management company.