International Business & Economy Singapore will continue to strive towards being a "Smart Nation", data breaches...

Singapore will continue to strive towards being a “Smart Nation”, data breaches notwithstanding—Vivian Balakrishnan

Dr Balakrishnan also said that the government must be fully transparent not only in its response to threats to cybersecurity and human leaks in systems, it must also be this way when it comes to taking corrective measures for such incidents




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San Francisco—According to Singapore’s Foreign Minister, the data breaches which occurred lately will not affect the country’s endeavour to build itself as a “Smart Nation”.

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan is not only the Foreign Minister of Singapore, but he is also in charge of Singapore’s push to transform itself into a Smart Nation. In a media interview in San Francisco, where he attended tech conferences as well as visited tech companies, he said, “We cannot go back to pen and paper.”

“If people lose confidence in the integrity and security of the system, then all these aspirations cannot be fulfilled,” he added.

However, Dr Balakrishnan also said that the government must be fully transparent not only in its response to threats to cybersecurity and human leaks in systems, it must also be this way when it comes to taking corrective measures for such incidents.

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A group of ministers and non-ministers from the country gathered together to form a Public Sector Data Security Review Committee for the purpose of looking at data incidents that have occurred, as well as broad approaches to raise security.

This committee will be handing in a final report to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong by the end of November of this year. In the meantime, it is possible that the government may possibly announce data security measures that can be implemented at an even earlier time, according to a statement from the government.

Dr Balakrishnan also said that the next phase in the country’s endeavor to build a “Smart Nation” is in artificial intelligence or AI.

He said that there has been a revolution in AI in Singapore in the past two to three years, wherein machines have evolved from merely learning rules to adopting the recognition of patterns.

AI is especially crucial in the light of cybersecurity threats since hackers are always looking for new paths to gain access to confidential data.

The Business Times reports Nicole Eagan, the chief executive officer of the cybersecurity firm Darktrace Ltd, as saying, “The attacks keep changing, they keep evolving – the battlefield has changed.

Now, we have seen the attacks moving at machine speed. We’re getting to the point where humans just can’t keep up, and we need artificial intelligence to help them get ahead of the game.”

According to Dr Balakrishnan, in order to address this, the country will begin to train its workforce with AI capabilities. This will start with civil servants, he added.

“The ability to deploy AI in our respective fields should be commoditised. We will be one of the earliest adopters of these new technologies.”

The previous phase in tech development in Singapore revolved around encouraging people to use mobile apps for transactions such as payments, including paying for parking from one’s own phone. Dr Balakrishnan said that these kinds of transactions are now more numerous than ATM withdrawals when it comes to value.

Dr Balakrishnan, who is with Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in San Francisco, has been posting about the conferences on his Facebook account.

In one post from April 21, he wrote, “Delighted to meet so many of the 1,200 overseas Singaporeans living in the Bay Area at the Singapore Reception.

Wherever their journey takes them, they will be a source of great pride for us.

All of them are doing well as students and tech professionals in the heart of the global digital revolution. I urged them to seize the many opportunities as they pursue their aspirations, and to consider the growing opportunities as Singapore transforms into a #SmartNation with opportunities for all. #TechMeToSG 
@ San Francisco, California”

In a later post, he wrote about how “tech is a national imperative for Singapore.”

“Minister Heng and I spoke at the Singapore Tech Forum, where we shared how tech is a national imperative for Singapore, and how our dynamic tech ecosystem will support the global ambitions of individuals and companies.”/TISG

Read related: Singapore strengthens cybersecurity initiatives as a smart nation

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