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Risks of cybersecurity breaches won’t go away

SINGAPORE (Sept 6): Singapore will continue monitoring risks of cybersecurity breaches and data hacks as those threats won’t go away, a senior government official said.

Risks need to be managed but won’t prevent the government from building the city state into a technology-advanced one under its “Smart Nation” plan, Janil Puthucheary, senior minister of state for communications and information, said on Thursday at Bloomberg’s “Sooner Than You Think” technology summit in Singapore.

“There is worry, and I think rightfully so, as we see issues of data privacy and cybersecurity around the world,” he said. “We need to keep our eyes on that side of the house and make sure people understand that these are risks we’re willing to take because the benefits are so significant.”

Singapore, a trade-reliant nation with a rapidly aging population, is trying to restructure its economy to make it a global center of innovation, investing billions of dollars in research to encourage automation in sectors from health care to manufacturing. As a hyper-connected financial hub, it’s also a prime target for hackers.

A data breach of Singapore’s biggest public health-care group, SingHealth, was uncovered in July, where hackers stole information on 1.5 million patients, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

‘Deliberate Attack’

“We’re very clear that this was a deliberate and planned cyberattack,” Puthucheary said. “This wasn’t a leak of some sort.” A committee set up to investigate the SingHealth attack is due to publish its findings at the end of the year, he said.

The “rare data breach” requires people to “own the problem, fix it, and then work for a significant restoration of trust,” he said.

Puthucheary also made the following comments in relation to Singapore’s technology plans:

The government is starting up skills training workshops targeting the elderly to train on technology in their first language; also opening “digital clinics” at community centers to help residents familiarize with new technology 12% of land is devoted to roads, with the government aiming to increase the utilization and efficiency of vehicles in use About six in 10 households live within a 10-minute walk of a train station, with the goal to increase that to 80% by 2030


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