Published: 17 February 2015
Ladies and Gentlemen;
I am happy to join you all today at the launch of Microsoft’s Cybercrime Satellite Centre in Singapore. Let me begin by congratulating Microsoft on this launch. In the almost 40 years since its establishment, Microsoft has continually developed new and innovative products, from the launch of the first Microsoft Office, to the X-Box, and to the recently announced HoloLens. The establishment of the Cybercrime Satellite Centre in Singapore is another milestone for Microsoft, and also to build closer public-private collaboration in our local and regional fight against cybercrime.
The evolving and growing cyber threat landscape
2. We live in a world of unprecedented connectivity. In particular, the growth in Internet global connectivity has been remarkable. In 1995, less than 1% of the world population had an Internet connection. Today, that figure has increased to more than 40%, and will only continue to rise.
3. In this era of rapid technological progress, all aspects of our lives – the way we live, work and play - will be profoundly changed by technology. For example, Microsoft recently unveiled its head-mounted holographic computer, called the HoloLens. The HoloLens goes beyond virtual reality by enabling us to interact with three-dimensional holograms blended with our real world. It is an exciting glimpse into how technology can be integrated into our world and environment.
4. However, the combination of greater connectivity and advances in technology can be a double-edged sword. It has enabled cybercriminals to collaborate and pursue their illegal activities across borders with relative ease. At the same time, their attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated.
5. Over the past year, there have been a number of high-profile cyber attacks on both major corporations and nations around the world. Major corporations, such as Target and eBay were affected, which resulted in millions of personal records being compromised. 2014 ended with one of the most devastating cyber attacks ever, on Sony Pictures Entertainment. The entire computer network was crippled. Just last month, French websites reported a sharp rise in the number of cyber attacks. There were an estimated 19,000 attacks, and affected sites ranged from tourism pages to military defence websites. All these attacks demonstrated how cybercriminals can exploit our vulnerabilities with devastating political, financial and societal consequences.
6. As a trusted business hub with a broad and deep presence of multinational corporations, Singapore is a natural target for cyber criminals. We have been targeted by cyber attacks in recent years. Both government and commercial websites were compromised. The Singapore government takes a serious view of such acts and has spared no effort in bringing perpetrators of these crimes to justice. As we move towards becoming a Smart Nation, we could inadvertently become more vulnerable to cyber threats.
Importance of and need for public-private partnership in the fight against cybercrime
7. With the increasingly complexity of cyber threats, we need to constantly review how we respond to cybercrime. A key milestone was the amendment of our Computer Misuse and Cyber Security Act in 2013 to enhance our regulatory and enforcement capabilities. Our efforts will be further strengthened by the formation of a dedicated agency for national cyber security, the Cyber Security Agency (CSA), which will come into operation on 1 April 2015. The CSA will consolidate and build upon the government's cyber security capabilities, and work closely with the private sector to develop Singapore's cyber security ecosystem.
8. However, the government cannot combat cybercrime on its own. As cybercriminals work across borders to carry out their criminal acts, nations and organisations in both the public and private sectors must also collaborate closely to stop them. Both the private and public sectors play critical and complementary roles in the common mission to fight cybercrime.
9. The sharing of expertise and information through cross-industry and public-private partnerships is a cornerstone of any effective cybersecurity ecosystem. It is critical that we create an environment of trust where networks can share intelligence expeditiously, and partner organisations can discuss measures to tackle threats or prevent similar incidents from taking place. We need a comprehensive and collaborative approach to build awareness and knowledge across the various sectors and stakeholders. This will also allow us to develop more robust cybersecurity capabilities, and fight cybercrime effectively.
10. Hence, the Singapore Government welcomes public-private partnerships in our fight against cybercrime. As the cyber threat landscape evolves, initiatives such as the Microsoft Cybercrime Satellite Centre will go a long way in enhancing our cyberspace safety and security. As the regional hub for Microsoft’s cybercrime and cybersecurity initiatives in Asia, the Centre can foster deeper engagement with regional public and private organisations. This will support the sharing of information and best practices within the ecosystem, and raise our collective capability to fight cybercrime.
11. Global coordination and cooperation are also critical components in fighting cybercrime, which is transnational in nature. Within the region, Singapore leads the ASEAN Cybercrime Working Group, which provides a platform for regional capacity building and training, and creates a network for sharing cybercrime information. Singapore also works closely with international stakeholders, such as INTERPOL. INTERPOL has established the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation, or IGCI, in Singapore. The IGCI will be INTERPOL’s global hub for cybercrime issues, and will provide a platform to support international public-private coordination. Through the linkage of this Cybercrime Satellite Centre to its US headquarters and the other 12 global satellite centres, we can leverage Microsoft’s technical expertise and tools to build and share best practices on a global scale. I am hopeful that our joint efforts can make a substantive contribution to the global battle against malevolent cyber activities.
12. As the fight against cybercrime intensifies and becomes more complex, there is a pressing need for greater public-private cooperation. The launch of the cybercrime satellite centre here is an important milestone not just for Microsoft, but also for Singapore and the region as we chart our common fight against cybercrime. Once again, my congratulations to Microsoft on the opening of this Satellite Cybercrime Centre.
13. Thank you, and I wish you all a pleasant afternoon.