Singapore Defense Ministry Under Remote Attack

Singapore’s defense ministry (MINDEF) has recently disclosed that a breach in an Internet-connected system earlier in February had resulted in the personal data of 850 national servicemen and employees being stolen. 

According to MINDEF, the I-net system used by personnel to access the Internet through terminals at the ministry and other facilities was breached by an attack in early February. 

While personal data, including identification numbers, phone numbers, and date of birth, were believed to have been stolen during the incident, the ministry said no classified information was compromised because it is stored on a separate system not connected to the Internet.

Singapore is no stranger to such cyber-attacks. As noted before, it has been paying keen attention to the cyber domain as a developed, highly-networked country. Singapore is particularly vulnerable as it relies on its reputation for security and stability to serve as a hub for businesses and attract talent. 

Indeed, last year, Deloitte found that Singapore was among the five Asian countries most vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The past few years have seen breaches in other parts of the city-state’s government as well, including the foreign ministry’s IT system as well as the Prime Minister’s Office website.

In response, Singapore has unveiled a series of initiatives aimed at boosting cyber-security, including creating new institutions, safeguarding critical infrastructure, training cyber security personnel, and collaborating more with the private sector.
Nonetheless, the cyber-attack recently is a reminder that even the more capable states in the Asia-Pacific continue to struggle with confronting threats in the cyber realm. 

This was the first publicly disclosed cyber-attack that MINDEF has experienced, and the ministry has described it as “targeted and carefully planned,” with the purpose of gaining access to official secrets. And based on what Singaporean officials have discovered so far, the attack appears to be less like the work of regular hackers and more along the lines of sophisticated state or state-backed actors.

The Diplomat

INTERPOL Targets Cybercrime in Asia:

China’s Cyber Attacks on Governments and Corporates in Asia:

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