Dr. Balakrishnan explains why identity of SingHealth attackers was never revealed

Photo: Facebook screengrab/ Vivian Balakrishnan

At the Singapore Perspectives conference at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balaksrishnan said that the identity of the masterminds behind the SingHealth cyberattack has remained undisclosed due to a decision made by the authorities, who believe revealing who they are would not make “our system more secure or be helpful to us.”

Additionally, Dr. Balakrishnan claims that the possible advantages to the cyber hackers are greater than the risk of their identification.

From late June to early July of 2018, a state-linked group of advanced cyber hackers was able to breach SingHealth’s systems and gained access to the data of 1.5 million Singaporeans, including that of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. A Committee of Inquiry (COI) into the breach said that lapses from employees as well as systemic vulnerabilities paved the way for the attack, which may have otherwise been averted.

Researcher Gillian Koh asked Dr. Balakrishnan concerning the Government’s decision to stay mum on the names of the attackers.

The Foreign Minister replied that disclosing the identity of the hackers is not in the public’s interest. He did add, however, that there are still groups attacking the country for both state and commercial advantage, according to a report from Today.

Dr. Balakrishnan called the technique of naming and shaming the attackers in order to prevent further attacks “arguable.” As the country’s Foreign Minister, it is within his purview to weigh in on whether or not to attribute the massive hack to a particular nation, as this would impact foreign relations.

However, he added that this was not the biggest factor considered in the decision. In the end, the Government made the choice not to name names as this would not help nor ensure that the system would be more secure.

Read related: Iswaran: Identity of SingHealth hackers known, but will remain undisclosed for national security reasons

Iswaran: Identity of SingHealth hackers known, but will remain undisclosed for national security reasons