Collective effort needed to tackle digital trust issues like cybersecurity, data protection: Tan Kiat How
The Government and its regulations “won’t have all the answers”, says the Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information.
SINGAPORE: Singapore will require a collective effort to deal with digital trust issues such as cybersecurity and data protection, even as it strengthens its status as a global business hub, said Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Tan Kiat How.
This comes as the growing number of cyber frauds, misinformation and data breaches in recent years is making it tougher for businesses to build trust among users.
“You need the entire ecosystem in Singapore - businesses across different industry segments, big or small - to all play their part to ensure that we have a much more cyber-safe, much more digitally-trusted ecosystem and that in turn, protects everyone in the ecosystem,” said Mr Tan, who is also Senior Minister of State for National Development, on Thursday (Dec 8).
Many countries grappling with digital trust issues have since put in place laws and regulations to maintain confidence in the ability of people and processes to create a secure digital world.
Singapore is doing more on this front by involving the industry, Mr Tan told CNA938’s Singapore Today.
“There's also a greater awareness and recognition that the Government cannot do it ourselves and we need to bring in the industry," he added.
"GOVERNMENT, REGULATIONS WON’T HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS"
The Government, and regulations, “won’t have all the answers”, he noted. “And the industry needs to be able to work together with the regulators and the government policymakers to think about what's pragmatic and what is sensible to do.”
A recent study by tech trade association SGTech showed that as cybercrimes continue to grow unabated in the Asia Pacific, digital trust is fast becoming a key focus for businesses.
SGTech represents more than 1,000 companies here including multinational corporations, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups.
In Singapore, the digital trust sector is currently valued at S$1.7 billion and is expected to more than double to S$4.8 billion by 2027.
Areas such as cybersecurity, digital identity services, cyber insurance and digital certifications are leading the growth.
The sector is expected to generate an additional 30,000 jobs in the next five years.
Singapore’s status as a business hub has given it a “competitive advantage” in the digital trust space.
“In a digital world, I think we do have a certain brand premium around trust as well,” said Mr Tan, who is a patron for SGTech's Digital Trust Committee.
“So it's a competitive advantage for our economy, and there are good opportunities for the ecosystem, businesses and our workers.”
Digital trust is not just important for businesses, but for everyone, he said. “We're spending more and more of our time online, whether for work, for play, and even for entertainment, and we are using technology in almost every part of our lives.
“And we are putting a lot of our information online as well. What gives us confidence that all the information that we have will be safeguarded, will not be stolen, will not be misused, those are part of our day-to-day living that as consumers, as Singaporeans we face.”
URGENT NEED TO RAISE AWARENESS OF DIGITAL TRUST
As such, there is an urgent need to raise awareness of digital trust and its importance.
In companies, this should not stop at the management level, said Mr Tan, adding that employees are often on the frontline working with the operational systems, handling customer data, as well as dealing with the vendors and suppliers.
“So everyone in a company needs to be aware of it,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, various agencies and industry associations have put together reference guides to help businesses and individuals to take steps towards protecting themselves. This includes earning relevant trust marks to assure customers or vendors.
“All of us can play our part by being cyber safe online, making sure that we are mindful (of) who we give our data to,” said Mr Tan.
“In that way, I think true consumer choice will lead to shaping company behaviour as well, so that they can adopt better digital trust practices.”
However, he noted that some smaller companies and SMEs have a misperception that they are not affected by digital trust challenges.
Cybersecurity threats “don't discriminate against big companies or small companies”, said Mr Tan, adding that there could be reputational damage if data has been lost or misused.
“So SMEs need to pay attention to digital trust, not just because of the opportunities, but also because to stay safe and to protect the customer's interest while using digital technologies.”