Public servants barred from using unauthorised USB drives

Public servants barred from using unauthorised USB drives

Photo illustration shows USB device being plugged into a laptop computer in Berlin
A USB device being plugged into a laptop computer. (File photo: Reuters)

SINGAPORE: Starting Jul 25, all public servants in Singapore can only use USB storage drives that have been authorised, the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) said.

Public agencies will tap on a bulk tender which has a list of portable storage devices that meet the Government’s security requirements, and will distribute them to its officers on a “working need basis”, said GovTech, the agency behind tech transformation in the public sector.

Several IT solutions such as file transfer tools have also been deployed to agencies, GovTech added.

The move comes after Internet access was cut from the work computers of all 143,000 public officers earlier this year, in a bid to prevent cyberattacks. Officers are still able to surf the Internet, but only on mobile devices or computers that are not connected to the office network.

In its statement on Friday, GovTech said IT security policies are reviewed in response to emerging cyber threats to ensure that the Government’s IT networks and data remain secure.

“USB storage devices continue to be a means to introduce malware and exfiltrate data, especially as they have the potential to be easily misplaced,” it said.

“We will continue to educate all public officers on the evolving cyber-risks and stay responsive and alert to the cyber threat landscape.”

A public servant, who declined to be named, told Channel NewsAsia that he was surprised when he received an email on Tuesday informing employees of the new measure.

"Work will be disrupted," he said. "Not everyone is issued one (an encrypted USB drive). We have to share, and check (it) in and check out."

He acknowledged that the move would lead to "increased cybersecurity", but said that there is a need to balance efficiency, feasibility and security.

Source: CNA/cy