“In this age of the internet and social media, resilience of Singaporeans will be tested through attacks from the digital front. This will be the new battlefront because of how connected we are, and how reliant we are on digital technology to communicate and to consume information” said Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, Senior Minister of State for Defence at the MINDEF’s Committee of Supply Debate 2019 this week.
He continued that connectivity opens up threats from the digital domain and that many examples in Singapore and overseas illustrate the devastating impact that these threats can wreak. Another challenge he highlighted is how quickly information, and disinformation, can spread over the digital domain -fake news.
“Singapore is not spared. We know how hackers stole the information of 1.5 million SingHealth patients. We have also seen the spread of fake news on a wide range of matters for example, plastic rice or Halal pork, to more insidiously, false accounts of incidents that could inflame xenophobia, communalism, and puncture social harmony.” Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman said.
Government agencies working closely to protect Singapore from digital threats
MINDEF has been working with various Government agencies to fortify Singapore and Singaporeans against digital threats.
MCI and its agencies, the Cyber Security Agency (CSA), the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the National Library Board (NLB), have in place various programmes for individuals, businesses and the wider community, to educate them on being secure, alert and responsible online.
In MHA, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) has developed further its capabilities to deal with cybercrime, and educates the public on staying safe in cyberspace.
All citizens must play a part to make Digital Defence a part of Singapore’s DNA
“Only if everyone plays a part – the Government, businesses, communities and individuals – can we make Digital Defence a part of Singapore’s DNA, and keep our defence total. ” he added
One of the ways government is making sure servicemen are prepared for threats from the digital domain is through working with National Library Board (NLB) to have all recruits going through Basic Military Training (BMT) to attend an information literacy workshop to equip them to better recognise and deal with fake news and deliberate online falsehoods.
MINDEF and the SAF strengthen cybersecurity awareness for personnel through enhancing our existing curriculum and learning journeys. We hope that collectively, these efforts will help our servicemen better understand the role of fake news in modern warfare, the steps they can take in response, and strengthen cyber hygiene as a whole.
For students, Digital Defence topics are already in MOE’s curriculum, and the government aims to reinforce this through digital literacy and Cyber Wellness programmes.
One of the initiatives government has used to reach out to the youth is the ‘Guardians of the City’ (GOTC) card game, this has been refreshed this year to include threats from the digital domain. Students who have played the refreshed game said felt it helped them better understand these threats and how they can play a part.
“While we step up efforts in Digital Defence, the multi-faceted threats of today mean that to keep Singapore strong, we need a collective effort where everyone plays a part and takes action across all six pillars of Total Defence” said the Senior Minister of State for Defence