Strict laws more effective than a firewall?

Strict laws more effective than a firewall?

Summary: At the second IT Priorities Roundtable, which was held in Singapore last week, the panel's topic of choice was green computing.

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At the second IT Priorities Roundtable, which was held in Singapore last week, the panel's topic of choice was green computing.

Singapore is a relatively tiny country and its datacentres are running out of space. On top of this, its tropical climate means the cost of keeping cool is big business.

However, with an IT administrator from the country's Ministry of Defence on the panel, I thought it inevitable that at some point, the conversation would turn to security.

As it turns out, I was wrong and security was hardly mentioned.

For someone responsible for keeping Singapore's most valuable secrets ... a secret, Andrew Tan was very relaxed.

Initially, I thought he was simply keeping his cards close to his chest but after hearing what other panel members had to say, I'm not so sure.

Phil Devlin from HP summed up the situation perfectly (Phil is an Australian who has been living and working in Singapore for over a decade): "I measure a country's security awareness based on the questions they ask me — some countries don't ask for a lot. Singapore is probably one of my more challenging countries in the entire region."

According to Devlin, Singaporean companies are keen followers of security standards and the government education campaigns are excellent. Another advantage, said Devlin, was the government's willingness to pass tough laws at lightning speed.

"In Singapore, I have seen an idea become law probably within a week or so... Consequently it means that things like cyber attacks ... you probably wouldn't want to do it here. Because if you get caught..."

At this point, he hesitated just long enough for at least two panel members to finish his sentence.

"You are hanged," they said, laughing.

The panel may be laughing but I would bet the criminals are not. There are far easier targets than Singapore. Last year, the government set up the Singapore Infocomm Technology Security Authority to help protect it against cyber-terrorism and cyber-espionage.

Domestically, if the government feels IT security is getting out of hand, I have no doubt it will swiftly pass laws to make even the most hardened cybercriminals think twice before launching an attack.

Topics: Government, Emerging Tech, Government AU, IT Priorities, Security

Munir Kotadia

About Munir Kotadia

Munir first became involved with online publishing in 1998 when he joined ZDNet UK and later moved into print publishing as Chief Reporter for IT Week, part of ZDNet UK, a weekly trade newspaper targeted at Enterprise IT managers. He later moved back into online publishing as Senior News Reporter for ZDNet UK.

Munir was recognised as Australia's Best Technology Columnist at the 5th Annual Sun Microsystems IT Journalism Awards 2007. In the previous year he was named Best News Journalist at the Consensus IT Writers Awards.

He no longer uses his Commodore 64.

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