SINGAPORE: Singapore will do more in the battle against online crime through a National Cybercrime Action Plan, Home Affairs Minister and Law Minister K Shanmugam announced on Wednesday (Jul 20).
Speaking at a conference, Mr Shanmugam pointed out that the plan signifies a fundamental relook at the way cybercrime is tackled, and recognised the sea change cybercrime will bring about in society.
"Cybercrime is seen, and rightly identified, as a growing threat. It doesn't recognise national boundaries. They hide behind, they are in the shadows, and they strike. And the scale and the speed with which they can strike is such that it can cause tremendous damage," he said.
Cybercrimes around the world have been increasing, he added.
Mr Shanmugam also pointed out that cyberspace is changing the complexion of crimes all over the world. In the UK, the number of crimes that involved a computer exceeded physical crimes in 2015. In the same year in Singapore, the number of cases under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act increased by more than 40 per cent compared to 2014.
FOUR KEY PRIORITIES FOR FOUR KEY PRINCIPLES
Singapore will do its part through its action plan that is underpinned by four key principles - prevention, a quick, strong response to incidents of cybercrime, effective laws and close partnerships.
These will translate to four key priorities in the action plan, said Mr Shanmugam.
The first priority is to educate and empower the public to stay safe in cyberspace.
Prevention is key, said Mr Shanmugam, citing the police’s efforts to educate the public through ads, Crimewatch broadcasts, social media and other outreach avenues.
There will also be a special focus on vulnerable groups like the elderly and children. In this area, the police will work with schools and NGOs to raise awareness among these groups.
The police will also transform its existing Scam Alert website into a one-stop self-help portal, where people can get information on the latest modus operandi of cybercriminals, hear from other people’s experiences and report cases.
Secondly, authorities will enhance capabilities to fight cybercrime.
Mr Shanmugam noted that a Cybercrime Command was established in December 2015. It will carry out tasks such as analysing new methods used by cybercriminals, which can then be used to shape crime prevention messages.
The Home Affairs Ministry will also expand the curriculum of the Cyber Security Lab - which is a hands-on training facility - to cover topics like cyber-security fundamentals, digital forensics and malware analysis.
Third, laws will be strengthened to respond to the transnational nature of cybercrimes and the evolving tactics of such criminals. He added that existing laws will be looked at, to ensure they remain relevant even as traditional crimes shift online.
"What happens in the real world will have to be replicated in the virtual world. And we have to develop the tools to make sure they're updated for that," said Mr Shanmugam.
Lastly, local and international partnerships will be established.
Singapore has worked with the Chinese authorities to bust a spate of credit-for-sex scams and plans to support fellow ASEAN member states in developing cybercrime capabilities. An Institute of Safety and Security Studies - where ASEAN member states can also get training - has been established here.
Singapore is also home to Interpol's Global Complex for Innovation, which has a strong focus on cybercrime.
Mr Shanmugam emphasised that the Government will work closely with partners across all sectors to share knowledge and expertise, as well as to build capability.
Singapore, he added, is committed to supporting the global fight against cybercrime, and can contribute in the area of capability development - both regionally and internationally.
"COORDINATED APPROACH IS KEY"
Separately, Interpol chief Jurgen Stock said Singapore - as a hyper-connected, well-developed country - provides opportunities for cybercriminals. He added that mobile devices are set to become bigger targets, with more people using them to carry out important tasks such as banking transactions.
Mr Stock, who is the secretary-general of Interpol, said that is why having a coordinated approach is key to deterring cybercriminals.
"I think Singapore, with a new plan, provides a lot of measures to protect the system," he said. "And this is so important, and we have to understand that we have to build strong partnerships."
"The public has to play its role in protecting their own systems. So we all have to be aware of the way we use our smartphones, the way we use our computers. And we have to protect our critical infrastructure and our societies, and that is a huge task also for the lawmakers," he added.