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Most public officers to have secure Internet access on work laptops from November

Most public officers to have secure Internet access on work laptops from November

File photo of a person using a laptop. (Photo: Pixabay/kropekk_pl)

SINGAPORE: The Government will implement secure Internet surfing for eligible public officers from Nov 2, enabling them to access the Web on their work laptops in a secure manner.

About 108,000 or more than 80 per cent of public officers will move to the new platform, the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) and Government Technology Agency (GovTech) said on Thursday (Oct 15).

The enhancement will help to improve user experience and productivity for public officers while promoting a safe and secure digital workplace, the agencies said in a media release.

“This is part of our continuous effort to advance the public sector digital transformation process,” they added.

However, officers who handle classified information will continue to use a separate device to access the Internet. This is to safeguard any sensitive data, the agencies said.

EVOLVING NEEDS OF PUBLIC OFFICERS

Public officers on the secure Internet surfing platform will be able to surf and download content from the Web; open links directly from Outlook emails and documents; log in and read social media feeds and make text-only posts; and upload files on approved websites, such as gov.sg websites.

File uploads are allowed only for approved websites to mitigate the risk of “data exfiltration by attackers” using the upload feature to send data to unauthorised websites, said the agencies.

The platform is enabled by remote browsing technology, which works by loading Web content in a dedicated virtual container and only displaying safe content to the user, SNDGO and GovTech explained.

However, remote browsing technology does not support Web-based video conference as it does not interact with other hardware components on the laptop such as the microphone and camera, they added.

Internet surfing separation (ISS) was first launched in 2016 and “fully implemented” in the public service in 2017.

“Over the years, ISS has been instrumental in keeping government data and IT systems safe,” the agencies said.

However, when ISS was first implemented, there were “no suitable mature solutions or products” allowing public officers to access the Internet securely, they added.

“Advancements in remote browsing technology in recent years have helped to enable the implementation” of secure Internet surfing, allowing a more secure system to safeguard government data, SNDGO and GovTech said.

“Protecting government data remains a key priority of the Singapore Government as we continue to improve these digital solutions to meet the evolving needs of public officers and the demands of the workplace.”

Source: CNA/zl

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