SINGAPORE: The Singapore Government will be inviting white hat, or ethical, hackers to test the cyber defences of selected Internet-facing systems to identify vulnerabilities by the end of the year, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on Tuesday (Sep 18).
Speaking at the opening of the third Singapore International Cyber Week (SICW), Mr Teo said the Government Bug Bounty Programme will help build an innovative cyber ecosystem, draw in a wide range of expertise to help identify blind spots in its systems and benchmark its defences against skilled hackers from around the world.
He added that through this process, the Government can “bring together a community of cyber defenders, who share the common goal of making cyberspace safer and more resilient” by securing its systems against malicious attacks.
“This builds a shared sense of collective ownership over the cybersecurity of our systems, which is vital to achieve our Smart Nation goals,” Mr Teo said.
The minister pointed out that such initiatives are part of the Government’s investment in cyber innovation, given that cyber attackers are “extremely innovative”.
This move comes on the heels of a smaller scale bug bounty exercise organised by the Ministry of Defence last December. Then, 264 selected white hat hackers from around the world were given the greenlight to hack and find vulnerabilities in eight Web-facing systems, and the ministry paid out US$14,750 in bounties to the 17 successful hackers.
DPM Teo also said the Government is looking to enhance its cyber partnerships and, as part of that, is expanding its ASEAN Cyber Capacity Programme (ACCP) by setting up the ASEAN-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence (ASCCE).
The new centre has three broad objectives: Strengthen ASEAN members’ cyber strategy development, legislation and research capabilities, train national computer emergency response teams (CERTs) in the region and promote CERT-to-CERT open-source information sharing, he added.
“Through the ASCCE, ASEAN members can engage more closely with our international partners, in particular our ASEAN Dialogue Partners,” Mr Teo said, adding that the centre will be open and inclusive.
He also gave an update on the ACCP, which the Government contributed S$10 million to, saying more than 140 officials from ASEAN member states have benefitted from it.
“The fight to secure our cyberspace is particularly challenging as it is asymmetric. It is easy for malicious actors to hide their identity, carry out their attacks across borders, and cause severe disruptions in essential services that disproportionately impact millions of people,” Mr Teo said.
“This is why it is important for us to work together - countries, governments, businesses and citizens - to pool our resources and strengthen our collective defences against this common threat.”