Hacking into websites is "nothing short of terrorism", especially when it endangers lives, said Law Minister K. Shanmugam.
So, such acts must be taken seriously, he told 75 Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) students at a Reach Kopi Talk, jointly organised by the Government's feedback arm Reach and SIM Global Education last evening.
"Today our entire world revolves around IT," said Mr Shanmugam, adding that hacking could have dire consequences.
Should hackers shut down the national power grid, for instance, hospitals or air-traffic controllers might be prevented from doing their work and lives could be lost.
He cited the mailing list from the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) website containing personal details of 4,000 people which was illegally published and uploaded to a New Zealand-based server.
"Take our hospitals, for instance. The entire data with every patient's medical history would be made known. Would you want those to be exfiltrated?" he asked.
Mr Shanmugam was responding to a question on the recent defacing of Government websites.
James Raj Arokiasamy, 35, was charged in court for allegedly defacing the Ang Mo Kio Town Council website last month. Five other men are being investigated for hacking into the Prime Minister's Office and Istana websites.
Mr Shanmugam said such deeds disrupt Government services and are akin to attacks on Singaporeans as these sites serve the citizens.
He added that the key aim of criminal law is deterrence and that while 95 per cent of people behave properly, there is the 5 per cent who will not if there are no sanctions.
"Now apply that analogy to the online crowd... There will be a group who believe they won't get caught. So the confidence comes from the belief. They are not for society but are dangerous," he said, adding that Singaporeans must stay vigilant.
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