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
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
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
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.