Singapore to appoint IT security officers, beef up monitoring facility

Government announces plans to boost its cybersecurity monitoring facility and set up an operations control center to respond to threats more swiftly. It will also appoint chief information security officers across various government agencies.

The Singapore government has announced plans to beef up its IT security monitoring capabilities and appoint chief information security officers, as part of efforts to better deal with the growing number of cyberattacks in the country and across the globe.

Noting that there had been several major security breaches such as the recent attack against U.S. retail chain Target , Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said governments, enterprises, and consumers need to be wary about data leaks, malware, and unauthorized access to corporate networks. 

He underscored the need for security measures to keep pace with the increasing sophistication seen in cyberattacks today, adding that the government is looking to grow the country's pool of cybersecurity skills. Specifically, security operations, network engineering, and technology development are key areas that need more skilled manpower, highlighted Yaacob, during his opening address Tuesday at the Infocomm Security Seminar 2014. Such expertise are necessary to identify ways to detect and combat attack tactics, which are constantly evolving, he said. 

To ensure there is sufficient skills, Singapore's Infocomm Development of Authority (IDA) will be looking to grow the local pool of cybersecurity professionals at both degree and diploma levels, providing avenues for ICT professionals to develop such skills as well as cultivate postgraduate researchers.

The Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), for example, will launch the country's first undergraduate information security degree programme in September next year, Yaacob said. He added that the Nanyang Technological University also began offering an information security specialization course as part of its undergraduate curriculum.

Starting 2015, those interested to expand their studies or be involved in research related to IT security can apply for postgraduate scholarships jointly offered by IDA and the National Research Foundation (NRF).

Government bodies and agencies also must stay vigilant and boost the resiliency of their critical ICT infrastructure, Yaacob said. In this aspect, IDA will be beefing up the Cyber-Watch Center (CWC) by January 2015 to "strengthen the government's detection and analytical capabilities", the minister said. The facility was first launched in 2007  to provide round-the-clock monitoring of cyber threats and ensure the security of government IT systems and networks.

The "upgrade" will allow the center to better monitor government websites and protect e-government services, as well as identify malicious activities, he said. IDA will also set up a Monitoring and Operations Control Center to enable the government to respond to security threats more swiftly, he noted. 

In addition, the government will appoint CISOs to further boost cybersecurity governance across various government agencies, Yaacob said. 

Today's announcements follow a series of cyberattacks in recent months that targeted government websites, including that of the Prime Minister's Office , as well as a security breach that affected 1,560 SingPass accounts used to access e-government services. 

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