Public healthcare computers should have been delinked from the Internet, might have prevented SingHealth data breach : DPM Teo Chee Hean

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Earlier today, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said that Internet surfing separation could and should have been implemented for computers in the public healthcare sector, just as it had been done for the public sector.

At the Public Service Engineering Conference 2018 at Resorts World Sentosa, DPM Teo said that delinking public healthcare computers from the Internet might have helped prevent the massive SingHealth data breach, as attackers gained entry into the system through a front-end computer connected to the Internet used by “thousands of users in the medical and academic community”.

Mr Teo also emphasised that Singapore should still carry on with its efforts to become a Smart Nation and that the SingHealth breach should not deter digital progress.

As Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister-in-charge of the Civil Service, Mr Teo also added, “We need to persist with our efforts to harness the potential of the digital age while building deeper expertise in our cyber security… to do so confidently”.

Mr Teo also added that measures such as the implementation of a four-member Committee of Inquiry, the delinking of public healthcare computers from the Internet have been put in place.

While there are efforts to mitigate the damage done, many Singaporeans have expressed their lost of trust in the system.

Since May of 2017, all computers used officially by public servants in Singapore were cut off from the Internet in a move to tighten security. This applied to all government agencies, ministries and statutory boards. However, many Singaporeans also seemed to be under the impression that the public healthcare sector was a part of this initiative as well.