Singapore govt will 'track down' hackers

If targeted, Singapore will "spare no effort" to identify the culprits responsible for launching cyberattacks against the country and bring them to justice, says prime minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

SINGAPORE--Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has issued a stern warning to hackers looking to target the country, pledging to do whatever it takes to identify those responsible for cyberattacks against SIngapore. 

Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of an event here Wednesday, Lee said cyberattacks were dangerous and taken "very seriously" by the government, according to a report by local English daily Today. "Our IT network, the Internet, [and] our communications have become an essential part of our business and our lives now.  

"If your network is down, you can't connect, you can't work, you can't keep in touch with what's happening in the world, [and] with what's happening whether if it's in your business, your family, or in Singapore," he said. "And, therefore, when somebody threatens to do harm to it...we take that very seriously and we will spare no effort to try and track down the culprits. And if we can find him, we will bring him to justice and he will be dealt with severely. It has to be."

This was the first time the prime minister had responded to threats by a hacker, who called himself "The Messiah" and claimed to be Singaporean and part of Anonymous. The hacktivist group posted YouTube video last week threatening to bring down Singapore's network infrastructure in protest of the government's online media licensing rule. It also called for "fellow Singaporean brothers and sisters" to dress in black and red on November 5, when Anonymous will make a "virtual protest".   

Over the weekend, at least 19 government websites were brought down by an outage which ICT regulator, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), later attributed to "routing problems" and system failure of an Internet router. It said scheduled maintenance work stretched several days and took longer than usual due to the technical glitch. It added that the downtime was not due to cyberattacks. 

No major incidents were reported on November 5.

In his comments, Lee said online anonymity did not mean those responsible for cyberattacks should not be held accountable. "You may think you're anonymous--we will make the extra effort to find out who you are," he said. 

He added the Singapore government had taken steps to boost and safeguard its system from security risks, while noting that no IT systems could ever be fool-proof. 

The government in July unveiled the country's third Cybersecurity Masterplan focusing on critical infrastructure protection and developing homegrown cybersecurity skills. In March, it set up a cybersecurity lab to help law enforcers hone their ability to counter attacks.


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