After a nice holiday in Langkawi, where his posts on Facebook while there raised eyebrows, ESM Goh Chok Tong returned home to find that his personal data was among those compromised in the cyber security breach at SingHealth.
“Heck! First thing I learnt upon my return from Langkawi was that my non-medical personal particulars with SingHealth had been stolen,” ESM Goh said. He was referring to personal information like NRIC number, address, race and birth date.
On Friday, the government revealed that a massive cyber attack was launched against medical service provider SingHealth’s digital platforms. The personal and medical records of some 1.5m patients, including that of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, were targeted in the breach.
“Cyber theft is a key risk when going digital,” ESM Goh said. “But we cannot stop the digital advance and must strive to build the most secure Smart Nation.”
Smart Nation is Singapore’s digital blueprint to harness infocomm technologies, networks and big data to create tech-enabled solutions. It was officially launched by PM Lee in November of 2014.
Last March, however, PM Lee publicly criticised the initiative for moving too slowly, and reorganised the committees in charge to “speed up” the project.
Smart Nation is helmed by Vivian Balakrishnan, the Foreign Minister. It is now subsumed under the new Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO), and SNDGO will in turn report to a new Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG).
DPM Teo Chee Hean oversees all of this.
“In this way, we will be more coordinated and move forward on the key digital government (and smart nation) programmes in the coming year or two,” DPM Teo said last year.
PM Lee had also posted on his Facebook page on Friday after the breach, which took place on 4 July, was disclosed publicly for the first time. He had been specifically targeted by the attackers.
“I don’t know what the attackers were hoping to find,” he said. “Perhaps they were hunting for some dark state secret, or at least something to embarrass me. If so, they would have been disappointed. My medication data is not something I would ordinarily tell people about, but there is nothing alarming in it.”