Singapore ‘gravely concerned’ over cyber attacks against Ukraine: Josephine Teo

Figurines with computers and smartphones are seen in front of the words
"Cyber Attack" illustration with Russian and Ukrainian flags. (ILLUSTRAION: Reuters)

SINGAPORE — Singapore is “gravely concerned” over the cyber attacks against Ukraine's government websites and national banks and the potential impact on the city-state, said Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo on Friday (4 March).

Given the unfolding situation in Ukraine, Singapore must be aware of the heightened risks, Teo said.

“Singapore may be geographically distant from the theatre of action but we cannot disregard the potential knock-on effects arriving on our shores. This is why earlier this week, we advised local organisations to beef up their cybersecurity posture,” Teo added.

Singapore's ministers have been issuing statements to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the launch of military operations on 24 February. Singapore voted alongside 140 other United Nations General Assembly members for a resolution to deplore Russia's invasion on Wednesday.

Even before the current situation in Ukraine, Teo pointed out that cyber threats to Singapore have become more prevalent. Between 2020 and 2021, Singapore observed a 73 per cent increase in data breach and ransomware incidents.

The scale and impact of such attacks elsewhere have become more serious, according to Teo, such as the ransomware attack on US Colonial Pipeline last year, which caused fuel shortages across the US East Coast.

Since 2018, the Cybersecurity Act has provided the legal framework for the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) to oversee Singapore’s national cybersecurity. The Act is currently focused on securing and protecting the country’s critical information infrastructure, including computer systems that deliver essential services like water and power.

CSA has been reviewing the Cybersecurity Act and intends to complete the review by 2023, taking into account stakeholder and public consultations, Teo said. The Act will be updated thereafter, she added.

“Digital infrastructure and services are the backbone of our connectivity, computing and data storage needs. If disrupted or compromised, there could be serious effects.”

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