Saturday, 19 Sep 2020

'Digital virus' might be bigger threat than Covid-19: Heng Swee Keat

SINGAPORE – Singapore must continue to protect itself against security threats such as cybercrime even in the middle of a pandemic, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Hackers have, for instance, tried to break into the e-mail accounts of World Health Organisation (WHO) officials earlier this year as the agency battled the coronavirus, Mr Heng noted.

“The security environment is increasingly complex and volatile. As a small country, we do not have the strategic depth to accommodate any compromises in security,” he said.

“A growing and ever-present threat is in cyberspace… The digital virus can be as, if not more, damaging than the physical virus.”

As a highly digital society, and one that is using more digital tools to fight Covid-19, Singapore must be extra vigilant, he added.

In his pre-recorded speech, addressed to the 374 cadets commissioned as officers of the Singapore Armed Forces on Saturday (June 13), he also thanked the defence community for its role in the battle against Covid-19.

More than 6,000 people from the Ministry of Defence, SAF and the wider defence community have been involved in fighting the pandemic.

Even as the SAF does its best to fight Covid-19, it has “continued to maintain a high level of operational vigilance and readiness”, said Mr Heng, who was also encouraged by its efforts to develop new capabilities to be ready for emerging threats.

“When it comes to defending our home and protecting our borders, there can be no hiatus,” he said.

In February, The Straits Times reported that $1 billion would be set aside over the next three years to boost the Government’s cyber and data security.

The SAF is also strengthening its cyber defence capabilities, for instance by starting a new Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) Wing in the Officer Cadet School in September, added Mr Heng.

“The security threats will continue to evolve, but the mission of the SAF remains constant – to defend Singapore and our way of life,” he added.

“The true foundation of the SAF’s strength lies not just in our state-of-the-art weaponry, but in the grit and commitment of our servicemen.”

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