Editorial: Hackers attack us all

Editorial: Hackers attack us all
'Messiah' arrested.

The sudden onset of computer hacking in past weeks could turn out to be episodic, as alleged perpetrators were pinpointed quickly and one individual has been produced in court.

The message the authorities put out that acts against public security and the national interest will be met with a firm response is unambiguous. Disaffected people and cyber adventurers who think intruding into government websites gives them a sense of power ought to know dissent is more credibly expressed through open channels.

Could there be organised forces at work? In this scenario, Singapore would be a part of a wider target area picked out for probes by amorphous international hacking rings.

Several South-east Asian countries and Australia were targeted at about the same time that public websites here were vandalised and threats made to disable state infrastructure. Some attacks were believed to have originated from Anonymous, an amorphous and faceless global band of cyber vigilantes.

Although the incidents appeared to be random acts, it pays to be careful by investigating all suspicious acts to prevent attempts to compromise vital financial and utility systems. The menace should be countered before serious harm is done.

Hackers are getting better and the stoutest defences have been breached, in the United States of all places. Regardless of the threat level and extent of hacking, cyber security has to be reinforced through code protections and sharing of data among enforcement jurisdictions.

Singapore's best defence is psychological warfare through public opprobrium so strong that hackers and those inclined towards the habit are left in no doubt they will be exposed.

This was on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's mind when he told a telecommunications security conference that Singaporeans should speak out against hackers as the act of undermining public confidence in protected networks could not be condoned.

Public disapproval can be a powerful deterrent and this is one instance when it should be heard loud and clear.

Defacing websites such as that of the Prime Minister's Office offends against Singaporeans' notions of what is legitimate dissent. It was disingenuous of the perpetrators to defend their acts as being directed not at the people but at the Government for its online news licensing requirements.

The fact of the matter was that the attacks were directed at Singapore and Singaporeans.

If individuals or special interests have grievances, these should be expressed via public feedback channels, much as they would demand that the Government be forthright in listening to contrarian views and citizen concerns.

Those who hide behind masks and generic names will not gain the credibility they crave.

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