Singapore is rapidly becoming one of the world’s cyber security hubs. The recent UN Global Cybersecurity Index ranked Singapore as the top nation in the world for commitment to cyber security. In addition, the cyber security market in Singapore is projected to grow to S$900 million (US$ 600 million) by 2020. With increases in cyber attacks, the growth of Singapore’s cyber security industry could not have come at a better time.
The growing need for cyber security
The digital interconnectivity of today’s world has made it easier for consumers, corporations and governments to create, exchange, and store massive amounts of sensitive data. Furthermore, the 8.4 billion devices connected to the internet make it easier to access that data. The combination has led to an inevitable rise in cyber crime.
Cyber security firm McAfee estimates that cyber crime costs the global economy USD 450 billion annually. Millions of attacks occur daily that result in a variety of crimes such as cyber theft, bank fraud, cyber espionage and denial of services among others. In 2017 alone there have been two of the largest cyber attacks in history.
In May, WannaCry ransomware spread to over 150 countries. The malicious software locked down a total of 200,000 devices and required victims to pay a ransom of USD 300 to gain access to their files. Infected computer systems caused economic slowdown and paralyzed critical infrastructures. Spanish telecom company Telefonica sent workers home due to downed networks. After WannaCry breached UK’s National Health Service, hospitals were forced to turn away non-emergency patients. In China, all China National Petrol Company gas stations only took payment in cash after the company’s security system came under attack.
At the end of June, the NotPetya attack that initially crippled Ukraine’s banking sector quickly affected multinational companies around the world. A computer system operated by Dutch shipping giant Maersk came to a standstill after being infected by the virus—causing traffic congestion problems at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), India’s largest container port. Russia’s largest oil company Rosneff was forced to switch to a reserve production processing system to maintain oil production after its servers were hit by NotPetya.
As everywhere else in the world, Singapore is not immune to cyber attacks. In February, an attack on the Singapore Ministry of Defense stole the personal data of 850 national servicemen and employees. In addition, some of Singapore’s most prominent industries including infocomm, energy and financial services are high-value targets for cybercriminals. Cyber attacks will continue to threaten Singapore’s national security. In anticipation, the Singapore Government has taken a proactive approach to protecting the country from cyber crime by growing the cyber security industry and maintaining Singapore as the world’s leading jurisdiction to start a company.
Singapore’s push to build the cyber security industry
In October 2016, Singapore released its Cyber Security Strategy. Spearheaded by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), Singapore plans to grow its cyber security industry to reach a global market.
Attract world-class cyber security companies
One of the first steps in the strategy is to leverage Singapore’s reputation as a global business center to attract and anchor world renowned cyber security companies with advanced capabilities. The Government of Singapore will work with such leading companies in order to create jobs for Singaporeans, protect vital sectors and improve Singapore’s cyber security expertise. The strategy has already attracted major cyber security players including BAE Systems, Microsoft and Palo Alto Networks who now have facilities in Singapore.
Support for Startups
The nurturing of cyber security startups is also a key component of the cyber security strategy. Startups that produce advanced, niche market solutions expand Singapore’s cyber security offering. The Government of Singapore will continue to work with venture capitalist firms and accelerators to secure funding and scale startups that focus on this sector and can produce the next wave of cyber security technologies.
Support for local cyber security companies
As a way to bring Singapore to the forefront of cyber security, the government of Singapore will continue to partner with local cyber security companies that provide globally competitive capabilities. Selected companies will work with the CSA to build up and deliver cyber security services—as well as train and develop the cyber security workforce.
R&D funding for rapid innovation
To cultivate innovative cyber security technologies, the Singapore Government has dedicated S$ 190 million to the National Cyber Security R&D Program (NCR). Under NCR Singapore has already awarded 13 cyber security projects in forensics and security systems. One of the main goals is also to continue to establish world-class research facilities that will serve as a shared resource for academia and cyber security companies. In addition, the NCR has dedicated S$8 million to help fund the National Cyber Security R&D Laboratory located at the National University of Singapore.
Global partnerships to open international markets
According to a Gartner study, global cyber security spending is projected to reach US$ 113 billion by 2020. Singapore recognizes that growing the cyber security locally offers new opportunities for companies to expand globally. As a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Singapore is already well positioned to meet the cyber security demands of Southeast Asia’s 625 million people. The ASEAN members will work together to build the cyber security capacity of the region. Beyond the ASEAN, the Singapore government will forge key international partnerships in order to homogenize cyber security policy across the globe. It will also leverage key resources and experience from organizations such as INTERPOL.
As the world becomes more digitally connected, cyber attacks will continue with greater frequency and severity. Governments, corporations and common consumers alike will all continue to need protection from cyber security threats.
With a strong government commitment to growth, Singapore will continue to move to the forefront of the global cyber security industry. The companies that make up Singapore’s cyber security ecosystem will continue to grow with support from Singapore Government’s CSA. The innovative solutions they create will not only keep Singapore cyber-secure, but also meet the growing demand for cyber security around the globe.