Parliament: New Cybersecurity Bill to be tabled next year to strengthen Singapore's online defences

SINGAPORE - A new Cybersecurity Bill that aims to strengthen laws against online crime will be tabled in Parliament next year (2017).

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim told Parliament the proposed law will ensure that operators of Singapore's critical information infrastructure take active steps to secure such systems and report incidents.

It will also empower the Cybersecurity Agency (CSA) to manage cyber incidents and raise the standards of cyber security providers here, he said during the debate on his ministry's Budget on Monday (April 11).

Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister-in-Charge of Cyber Security, noted that while the existing Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act grants law enforcement agencies powers to investigate and apprehend those behind cyber crime, the nature of such crime has evolved. The interconnectivity of such networks also means that the effects of cyber-attacks can be "contagious", he added.

"Cyber-attacks have increased in sophistication, and attackers have become faster and bolder," Dr Yaacob said. "It is inevitable that Singapore's critical information infrastructure will at some point be targets."

Last week, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Lee said there was a "clear uptrend" in cyber crime, with a surge in online cheating scams being the main reason. The total number of online cheating cases involving e-commerce, credit-for-sex, and Internet love scams nearly doubled in 2015 from the previous year.

To better tackle this threat, many countries have in recent years been strengthening their cyber security legislation, said Dr Yaacob.

They include Germany, which passed a new law last year to raise cybersecurity standards and mandate reporting of significant cybersecurity incidents, and the United States, which last December approved an Act to facilitate the sharing of information on cyber threats.

Dr Yaacob said the Government will start work on developing the new Bill, and the CSA will consult stakeholders on the scope of the new law.

"We are stepping up our efforts to enhance our cyber security, and also the resilience of our infrastructure," he said.

"This is the necessary foundation for a successful digital economy."

This article was first published on April 12, 2016.
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