Singapore, US pledge deeper collaboration in cybersecurity

Both countries sign memorandums of understanding to deepen their collaboration in cybersecurity across several areas, including defence, financial, and research and development.

Singapore and the US have inked a series of memorandums of understanding (MOUs) to widen their collaboration in cybersecurity across defence, financial, and research and development. Such initiatives will encompass further information sharing, joint exercises, training, and competency development. 

Three MOUs were signed Monday as part of US Vice President Kamala Harris' three-day visit to the Asian nation this week. 

One of these involved an agreement between Singapore's Cyber Security Agency (CSA) and the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to deepen cooperation in cybersecurity beyond data sharing and exchanges. The two government agencies will look to include new areas of cooperation in critical technologies as well as research and development, amongst others. 

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CSA's chief executive David Koh noted that both countries shared "deep mutual interests" in enhancing cybersecurity cooperation, particularly as cybersecurity now was a key enabler with the two nations leveraging digitalisation to grow their respective economy and enhance their population's lives.

CISA Director Jen Easterly said: "Cyber threats don't adhere to borders, which is why international collaboration is a key part of the Biden-Harris administration's approach to cybersecurity. The MOU allows us to strengthen our existing partnership with Singapore, so that we can more effectively work together to collectively defend against the threats of today and secure against the risks of tomorrow."

In a second MOU inked between Singapore's Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the US Department of Defense, both countries will aim to collaborate on various cyberspace initiatives. These include efforts to establish "mutual understanding" and data-sharing as well as cooperation in "capacity-building". 

Singapore's Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong said: "This MOU on cyberspace cooperation between Singapore and US defence establishments is an important step in formalising our cyber cooperation, and a reflection of our continued commitment to expand our defence collaboration in more areas. We look forward to cooperating with the US in this complex cybersecurity landscape".

According to Mindef, both nations have had "extensive" defence engagements that included military-to-military exchanges, training, and defence technology collaboration. These encompassed previous agreements such as the 2005 Strategic Framework Agreement that recognised Singapore as a major security cooperation partner, and the 2015 Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement, which widened defence cooperation across various security areas, including cyberdefence and biosecurity. 

A third MOU involved the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and US Treasury Department, and is aimed at furthering drive initiatives in cybersecurity and strengthening bilateral institutional partnerships. Both financial agencies have been exchanging cyber threat information since 2018, they said in a joint statement Monday.

The agreement encompasses collaboration in various areas, including information-sharing on cybersecurity regulations and incidents as well as threat intelligence, employee training to drive collaboration in cybersecurity, and competency-building initiatives such as cross-border cybersecurity exercises. 

US Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen noted that the cybersecurity cooperation agreement would enhance the cyber resilience of both countries' financial systems.

MAS Managing Director Ravi Menon said: "Given the growing complexity of cyber attacks and how interconnected the global financial system is, close cooperation is essential to ensure the cyber resilience of our financial systems. This MoU between the US Treasury and MAS will be particularly useful in the areas of cyber threat information-sharing and cross-border cybersecurity exercises."

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