S’pore cyber-security capabilities to be enhanced: Janil Puthucheary

SINGAPORE – Singapore is ramping up research and innovation efforts to strengthen its cyber-security capabilities, with Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary announcing an upcoming collaboration between the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) and Israel’s Tel Aviv University on Thursday (Oct 8).

The joint grant call, which comes under the National Cybersecurity R&D (NCR) programme, is the second with Tel Aviv University.

It will see Singapore’s researchers work with their Israeli counterparts in challenging areas, such as the security for smart cities and the Internet of Things (IoT), from later this year.

The grant call is open to all researchers from local institutes of higher learning and research institutes.

The CSA is also taking over the NCR programme from the National Research Foundation starting next March, in a move that will harness the partner networks that CSA has built over the years, and let government agencies, industry and academia collaborate more smoothly.

“Even as we tackle the cyber challenges of today, it is important to prepare for the cyber threats of tomorrow,” said Dr Janil, who was speaking at a Singapore International Cyber Week roundtable session on international IoT security at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

“With emerging technologies such as quantum computing (on the horizon), research and innovation are pivotal in extending our cyber-security capabilities in areas of strategic importance, and also create numerous good career opportunities in this fast-growing ecosystem.”

Dr Janil also stressed the need to double down on IoT security at a time when there are already 31 billion IoT devices around the world, a number which could increase to 75 billion by 2030.

These devices have become so ubiquitous that many have taken to calling IoT the “Internet of Everything”, he said.

“But greater connectivity also brings greater risks. The vast majority of devices – baby monitors, home routers, even our fridges and cars – are optimised for functionality and cost, rather than security. This is not just a technical problem, but also about building trust and partnerships.”

The Internet of Things refers to a network of devices each embedded with sensors that provide information about the device’s activity and environment.

A voluntary labelling scheme that indicates the cyber-security levels of home IoT devices was launched on Wednesday by Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran.

The Cybersecurity Labelling Scheme will be similar to energy labels, with a tiered reference to security levels to help consumers make informed decisions.