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New digital defence pillar added to Total Defence framework

SINGAPORE — In a nod to the rising cyber security threat and its potentially devastating consequences, “digital defence” is now a pillar of Singapore’s overall security strategy.

New digital defence pillar added to Total Defence framework

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the new pillar — digital defence — will strengthen the country’s cyber security and enable it to respond to digital threats.

SINGAPORE — In a nod to the rising cyber security threat and its potentially devastating consequences, “digital defence” is now a pillar of Singapore’s overall security strategy.

Making the announcement on Thursday (Feb 14) in his Total Defence Day video message, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the new pillar will strengthen the country’s cyber security and enable it to respond to digital threats.

The other Total Defence pillars are military, civil, economic, social and psychological defence.

Speaking from Fort Canning Hill, where the British decided 77 years ago to surrender to the Japanese in World War Two, Dr Ng said security threats can be real and physical, such as the threat of terrorism. But those from the cyber world can be just as damaging.

“Fake news can cause racial riots and divide our people,” he said.

“Whether it is against terrorism, cyber attacks or border incursions, we need Total Defence to remain strong and sovereign,” said Dr Ng.

The addition of a sixth pillar comes hot on the heels of recent high-profile cyber incidents.

An advanced persistent threat group broke into public healthcare cluster SingHealth's IT system between June 27 and July 4 last year and stole the personal data of 1.5 million patients and the outpatient medication information of 160,000 of them — including the Prime Minister's.

On Jan 28, the Ministry of Health said that the medical records of 14,200 HIV-positive people were illegally disclosed online by deported American Mikhy Brochez, whose partner used to work at the ministry.

The new pillar underscores the urgency of beefing up Singapore’s cyber defences, as it presses on with its digital economy and Smart Nation visions.

Since 1984, Total Defence Day has been celebrated annually on Feb 15 to mark the surrender of Singapore to the Japanese.

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