Intervention by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister For Communications and Information And Minister-In-Charge Of Cyber Security at the 15th ASEAN TELMIN

27 Nov 2015


Distinguished colleagues
Ladies and Gentlemen

Infocomm Technologies Present Both Opportunities and Risks

The last few years have seen an explosive growth in Information Communications Technologies. The development of our telecom networks has expanded internet connectivity and fuelled the growth of applications that have broken down barriers between people, and provided opportunities for social developmemt and economic progress. However, the increased connectivity also carries with it an increasing risk of cyber-attacks, which have become more sophisticated and pervasive.

I think all of us here are acutely aware of the risks. The impact may range from fraud and data theft, to disruption of control systems. The targets may well include our telecom networks which would be prized targets for attackers wanting to disrupt our economies and societies.

As the internet is globally linked, it is clear that no country can achieve cyber security on its own. Cyber criminals, whether those offering hacking services for hire or well-resourced and highly-capable organisations, work across borders. We therefore need to work together as ASEAN to secure cyberspace. After all, the question is not IF you will be attacked, but WHEN. As a TELMIN community, we need to recognize the urgency of the issue, and start working together with our partners to take action.

Just a few days ago, Leaders attending the East Asia Summit (EAS) in Kuala Lumpur endorsed a Statement on Issues Related to Security of and in the Use of Information and Communications Technologies. This statement affirmed the need for closer international and regional cooperation to reduce risks related to the criminal and improper use of infocomm technology, so as to build a safe and secure digital environment for all.

Cyber Security is an Enabler

Over the years, ASEAN Member States, together with our Dialogue Partners, have been working more closely to enhance cyber security cooperation. Through the various ASEAN-led platforms such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the EAS, we have built a strong foundation of mutual trust and cooperation to facilitate further cyber security collaboration in areas such as CERT-CERT cooperation and regional cyber capacity building.

Singapore believes that cyber security is an enabler for the technologies that will provide opportunities for social development and economic progress. This will be through a secure cyberspace governed by the ASEAN values of social responsibility and building consensus.

For its part, Singapore strongly supports efforts by ASEAN Member States and Dialogue Partners through platforms such as TELMIN, the ARF as well as the various CERT mechanisms to boost cyber security in our region. As part of these efforts, Singapore has, earlier this year, established the Cyber Security Agency (CSA) to provide centralised oversight over cyber security in Singapore. Singapore has also continued to convene the annual ASEAN CERT Incident Drill (or ACID) for the last ten years.

As part of our cybercrime-fighting efforts, Singapore plays a facilitating role as the Voluntary Lead Shepherd under the auspices of the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime/ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC/AMMTC). To further strengthen collaboration, we are working towards developing an ASEAN Cyber Infrastructure, which will enhance ASEAN’s cyber security capacity and capabilities.  Singapore is also host to the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI). The IGCI, which was officially opened in April 2015, serves as a key node in Asia and the world to support international cybercrime-fighting operations and build regional capacity to counter cybercrime. 

These ASEAN cyber initiatives have helped improve regional cyber security cooperation. However, the cyber threat has also grown in sophistication and complexity over the last few years. There are no boundaries in cyberspace, where we are all inter-connected and brought even closer together. This makes it easier for attackers to target us. This is why we must work closer together to combat them and secure cyberspace for our citizens’ benefit.

Closer Coordination is Key to Regional Cyber Security

We can do this effectively only if our cyber policy positions, people networks, information sharing protocols,procedures and cyber capacity building efforts are coordinated through prior discussion and agreement. This will augment the various ASEAN cyber cooperation and capacity mechanisms that are already in place.

While there are already useful discussions on cyber confidence-building measures, and cyber capacity building taking place at various ASEAN platforms, Singapore believes that it would be helpful to bring policy discussions at regular intervals to a high-level ASEAN cyber security forum for deliberation and coordination.

Such a high-level cyber security forum would also allow ASEAN Member States and Dialogue Partners to better coordinate with and support each other in common cyber security initiatives in the spirit of ASEAN neighbourliness, aimed at building a strong and cyber-secure ASEAN Community.

ASEAN Cyber Security Conference 2016

In line with this, Singapore will organise an ASEAN Cyber Security Conference at the Ministerial level in September 2016.  This conference will serve as a platform for discussions on regional cyber security issues, and will complement existing efforts by ASEAN Member States to strengthen cyber security in the region.  It will also identify areas for greater cyber security and cybercrime cooperation, cyber capacity building and joint training among ASEAN Member States. Singapore will provide more information on the proposed Conference and extend invitations in due course.

Regional Cyber Security is a Team Sport

The establishment of the ASEAN Community on 31 December 2015 will bring our countries closer through economic, political-security and social-cultural cooperation. This is a timely moment to extend and enhance our cooperation on the key area of cyber security.

Regional cyber security is a team sport. We all have a part to play in building a cyber-secure ASEAN region. I look forward to welcoming my ASEAN colleagues to Singapore for the ASEAN Cyber Security Conference in September 2016.

Thank you.