SINGAPORE - The culprits behind the recent hacking of government websites will be dealt with to the full extent of the law, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Thursday in his first comments since the suspects were rounded up.
"It is not a prank when someone hacks websites and intrudes into computer systems," he said, condemning hacking as a criminal act and "malicious and harmful".
"At a minimum it inconveniences the public, but potentially it has much graver consequences. It can damage infrastructure and endanger lives."
That could happen if, for example, the computers hacked control the electricity grid or a hospital management system.
He was speaking at the opening of the 13th ASEAN Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers Meeting. The annual meeting promotes regional cooperation in infocomm efforts to strengthen economies and social development.
PM Lee urged people to speak up against hacking.
"Citizens too should speak up against such acts, and express their clear disapproval of those responsible as well as others who have supported or encouraged the perpetrators," he said.
On Tuesday, the alleged hacker behind the defacement of the PAP Community Foundation and Ang Mo Kio Town Council websites and The Straits Times blog site was charged in court.
James Raj Arokiasamy, 35, a Singaporean, allegedly hid behind the moniker "The Messiah" and created a YouTube video threatening a wave of cyber attacks to protest against licensing rules for news websites here.
Separately, five men were being investigated for last Friday's hacking of websites belonging to the Prime Minister's Office and the Istana.
Outside Singapore, hackers also attacked several government websites in the Philippines early this month and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's website in May.
Noting the recent cyber invasion in the region, Mr Lee said ASEAN nations must cooperate to deal with common threats.
Turning to the issue of digital television, he urged ASEAN countries to accelerate the switch from analogue to digital TV broadcasting to free up scarce spectrum for mobile broadband use.
So far, four out of 10 ASEAN member nations - Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore - have committed to recycle the 700MHz spectrum band, currently used for television broadcasting, for mobile broadband purposes.
Agreeing on a common spectrum allows mobile roaming and minimises signal interference along coastlines.
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