No Internet access for public officers' work computers by next June

No Internet access for public officers' work computers by next June

Public servants were informed that the change was to guard against cyberattacks through the Internet in a circular from the IDA, Channel NewsAsia understands.

File photo of someone using a phone and looking at a computer.

SINGAPORE: To guard against cyberattacks over the Internet and create a "more secure working environment", the work computers of public officers will have no access to the Internet from next June.

In a circular to public servants on Tuesday (Jun 7) which Channel NewsAsia has seen, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) said officers would still be able to surf the Internet on separate computers or mobile devices - either belonging to the individual or provided by their organisations.

In response to media queries, IDA said the Government regularly reviews the country's IT security to make the network "more secure".

"We have started to separate Internet access from the work stations of a selected group of public service officers, and will do so for the rest of the public service officers progressively over a one-year period. There are alternatives for Internet access and the work that officers need to do, does not change,” a spokesperson said.

It is said that certain ministries are looking into issuing separate computers for those who require Internet access for work. In a separate statement, the Ministry of Education said on Thursday that all teachers "currently work on a separate network that will not be connected to the Government Enterprise Network", and will "continue to have access to teaching and learning resources on the Internet from their computers".

The changes will be implemented within a year, or by next June, according to the circular.

Channel NewsAsia understands that some services, like Gmail, Dropbox and WeTransfer, have already been blocked.

"NOT A MOVE BACKWARDS"

The Cyber Security Agency (CSA) said it is working with the new Government Technology Agency GovTech to carry out their respective functions securely and effectively. Said CSA chief executive David Koh: "The Government has the responsibility of protecting important data and information, including that of citizens’, thus we need to keep our Government systems cyber-secure."

Mr Koh added that surfing separation will prevent attackers from using the Internet to plant malware to access Government computers.

"The specific actions that are prohibited in this instance are actions that attackers want Government employees to do, such as clicking on a link in a spear-phishing email, thereby allowing attackers to use the Internet surfing channels to exfiltrate stolen information," he said.

Mr Koh stated this "should not be seen as a move backwards" as Government employees will still have Internet connectivity.

Separately, a circular was sent out to address queries over the new Net access rules. It branded claims that the Government is cutting off the Internet for civil servants as "myth".


Source: CNA/mz