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New taskforce to propose ways to protect Singapore's telcos against cyber threats

New taskforce to propose ways to protect Singapore's telcos against cyber threats

A man talks on his phone in Singapore's Central Business District.

SINGAPORE: A new taskforce is being convened to look at current and future cyber threats that telecom operators may face and propose solutions to address them, according to the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) on Friday (Jan 25).

READ: Cybersecurity Bill passed in Parliament; MPs raise questions on privacy, cost

The setting up of the Telecom Cybersecurity Strategic Committee was announced by Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary at the inaugural Infocomm Media Cybersecurity Conference. 

It will be chaired by IMDA chairman Chan Yeng Kit. The other members include IMDA chief executive Tan Kiat How, DSO National Laboratories (DSO) CEO Cheong Chee Hoo and Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) chief executive David Koh.

The committee will include an expert panel comprising former director of UK intelligence unit GCHQ Robert Hannigan, CEO of IronNet Cybersecurity and former US National Security Agency director Keith Alexander as well as CEO of Israel cybersecurity think-tank Team 8 Nadav Zafrir, the press release said.

Together, they will come up with a multi-year roadmap to identify next-generation cyber threats and develop the solutions, policies and capabilities needed to secure the country’s connectivity infrastructure, the agency said.

“Connectivity infrastructure is a key building block for Singapore’s economy. The changing needs of the digital economy will require trusted, secure and resilient next-generation connectivity infrastructure, including 5G and narrowband Internet-of-Things (NB-IoT) sensor networks,” IMDA said.

“The roadmap will help (us) strategically and systematically invest to develop robust cybersecurity capabilities for the sector.”

Dr Janil added in his speech on Friday that there is a need to consider the future, as these risks are magnified by new technologies, products and platforms. 

"Advancements in cyber threats are ever present, such as ransomware-as-a-service, the weaponisation of artificial intelligence (AI) and use of machine learning. The pace of acceleration and the threat around cybersecurity is just as rampant," he said.

The first set of findings from the committee is expected to be published later this year, IMDA added.


Besides the committee, IMDA also announced the launch of a guide to help mobile operators with the regulatory requirements on deploying electronic Know Your Customer (KYC) technology.

The agency said eKYC technology enables mobile operators to digitally verify registrations.

For example subscribers would no longer need to be physically present at a telco when they are switching providers. They would also not need to switch out their SIM cards either given that this can be done over the air using the embedded SIM cards (eSIMs).

READ: Switch mobile operator without changing SIM cards? IMDA wants feedback on eSIM tech

It had last June launched a public consultation to seek views on the policy and regulatory frameworks for the deployment of eSIM technology, and this implementation guide is another step towards making it a reality.

“eKYC, together with the eSIM-enabled devices, will drive new innovative services and products from the mobile operators to benefit consumers,” IMDA said.

Additionally, it launched a public consultation for an Internet of Things (IoT) cybersecurity guide to better help the industry understand how to manage security concerns while using such technologies.

The agency also partnered the National University of Singapore’s Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT) to offer more activities to build quantum-related capability in Singapore.

Quantum Key Distribution technology is an emerging cybersecurity method. Essentially, it enables two parties to produce a shared random secret key only known to them for encrypting and decrypting messages. It also allows the two parties to detect the presence of a third party trying to get to the key, allowing them to change it.

IMDA said it plans to pilot QKD trials with local industry players to gain more understanding and explore possible regulatory needs for implementation.

This is not the first time quantum computing has been flagged to be an area of importance for future development. The National Research Foundation last September said it will invest S$25 million into the Quantum Engineering Programme to develop quantum technology and devices.


Source: CNA/rw


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