Singapore opens doors to cybersecurity businesses

Out-Law News | 18 Sep 2019 | 3:07 pm | 2 min. read

Encouraging people in Singapore to develop cybersecurity skills will help encourage more international businesses to set up in the city state, a senior minister in the Singaporean government has said.

Speaking at the official opening of Ensign InfoSecurity's headquarters in Singapore, Teo Chee Hean, senior minister and coordinating minister for national security, highlighted the growing cyber risks facing organisations and said Singapore's information communications and cybersecurity businesses can help Singapore "build world-class capabilities" on cybersecurity.

"We welcome local and foreign companies, large and small, who are able to offer cutting edge solutions to locate and grow their capabilities and businesses in Singapore" Teo Chee Hean said. "There are three ways in which our companies, in the info-comm and our growing cybersecurity sector, can contribute to this, by: developing people, innovation and collaboration."

On developing people, the minister highlighted the Singapore government's Cyber Security Associates and Technologists Programme that he said supports companies to "train young professionals and re-skill mid-career professionals to cybersecurity roles", and further referenced other initiatives which he said would hopefully "spark our students’ interest in a future cybersecurity career and also help to identify students with potential at an early age".

Teo Chee Hean said businesses also have a role to play to "help nurture the pool of cyber-specialists in Singapore".

"Companies need to promote training and continual learning so that your staff can hone their skills and stay up-to-date," he said. "This is especially relevant in an arena like cyber, where the expertise needed has to keep pace with the rapidly evolving info-comm and cyber-threat landscape. Companies should be on the lookout for opportunities to grow your staff and expose them to cutting-edge technologies and research. We must grow the number of cyber specialists in Singapore and maximise their potential to build strong and resilient cyber defences."

In his speech, Teo Chee Hean said innovation in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI) can also help build Singapore's reputation on cybersecurity. He called on companies to "invest in R&D and innovation to boost [Singapore's] capabilities" and to "take an active role in national level initiatives". These include the National Cybersecurity R&D Programme and Singapore's cybersecurity start-up hub, the Innovation Cybersecurity Ecosystem @ Block71.

Singapore businesses should also open themselves to collaborating with others in industry, the minister said.

"To guard against global threats, we need to work with the best in the world and develop a community of cyber-defenders with world-class capabilities," Teo Chee Hean said.

Technology law specialist Bryan Tan of Pinsent Masons MPillay, the Singapore joint venture partner of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: "Cybersecurity is a top priority within government and the economy given Singapore’s open and connected industry. It is not surprising that we have fielded enquiries from interested parties to enter the market."

Last year new cybersecurity laws applicable to 'critical information infrastructure' (CII) operators were introduced in Singapore, stretching across sectors such as energy, telecoms, water, health, banking, transport and media.