SINGAPORE: To build up the Government’s cyber and data security capabilities, S$1 billion will be put aside over the next three years, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said during his Budget speech on Tuesday (Feb 18).
As a small city-state, Singapore is vulnerable to volatilities in its external environment, he said, adding the country’s security remains a high priority in the Budget and must be “funded adequately”.
He noted that as digitalisation becomes more pervasive, Singapore must be prepared to deal with cyber threats.
The setting up of the Cyber Security Agency (CSA) in 2015 and the passing of the Cybersecurity Act in 2018 helped significantly raise the country’s capabilities in this area, he said.
“CSA is preparing measures for the next level of cybersecurity, as we adopt more advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud and the internet of things, “ said Mr Heng, who is also the Finance Minister.
“All of us - in the Government, enterprises and as individuals - will need to stay vigilant and strengthen our cyber and data security capabilities.”
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Meanwhile, Mr Heng noted data security was also important, as a “vital prerequisite and key enabler” of Singapore’s digital economy.
“It is key to preserving trust in a digitally-connected world,” he said.
He pointed out that the Personal Data Protection Act had been enacted in 2012, and that the public service had adopted “comprehensive measures” to secure and protect the data of citizens here.
The country must continue to enhance its cyber capabilities as it embarks on initiatives to realise its smart nation ambitions, he said.
“I will set aside S$1 billion over the next three years to build up the Government’s cyber and data security capabilities, to safeguard citizens’ data and our critical information infrastructure systems,” said Mr Heng, referring to sectors responsible for the delivery of essential services such as infocommunications, energy, as well as banking and finance.
This comes following a number of high-profile data breaches here in recent years.
In 2018, the personal data of 1.5 million patients and the outpatient prescription information of 160,000 people - including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong - was stolen from Singhealth by hackers.
Mr Heng said it is imperative that Singapore continues to invest in its “external, internal, cyber and data security to keep Singapore and our families safe and secure”.
While Singapore strives to build good relations with its neighbours and other countries, it must be prepared to defend its interests should negotiations fail, he added.
“We must continue to ensure a credible deterrence, by maintaining our military and technological edge,” he said.
He noted however this must be done in a prudent manner “that stretches every defence dollar”.
Meanwhile, agencies under the Home Affairs Ministry would continue to “enhance the operational readiness of their officers, leverage technology and build partnerships with the community”.
The relevant ministers would provide more details on initiatives in these areas, he said.