23 February 2005
Singapore is to spend $23 million over three years to battle online hackers and other forms of “cyber-terrorism” in one of the world’s most connected countries, government officials said Tuesday.
Describing the infrastructure behind the Internet as a “nerve system” in Singapore, Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan said a new National Cyber-Threat Monitoring Center would maintain round-the-clock detection and analysis of computer virus threats.
“We cannot afford to treat the threats from cyber terrorists, cyber criminals and irresponsible hackers lightly,” Tan said in a speech while unveiling an information-technology security “master plan” in the tech-savvy city-state.
“Infocomm security is as important in protecting Singapore as is physical security at our borders,” added Tan, who is also Coordinating Minister for Security and Defense.
Singapore has one of the world’s highest Internet penetration rates, with 50-60 percent of its 4.2 million people living in homes wired to the Internet.
The affluent, predominantly ethnic Chinese island has also steadily tightened security since the September 2001 attacks on the United States, from patrols of heavily armed police in busy shopping districts to tighter security at border points.
In 2003, Singapore passed strict legislation to allow monitoring of all computer activity and for police to take pre-emptive action to protect state computers from cyber attack.
Tan said the money would also be used to help businesses tighten security for online financial transactions while guiding them to work with the government in maintaining cyber security.
The Cyber-Threat Monitoring Center will link up with companies that provide anti-virus systems and governments running similar centers, including the United States and Australia. It is expected to be fully operational by the second half of 2006.