Singapore

$16m boost for 
cyber-security R&D

Six firms also awarded $50m contract to protect govt websites during attacks

More than $16 million will be invested to strengthen Singapore's cyber-security research and development under two separate programmes that aim to produce more commercial cyber-security solutions.

Announcing this at the opening of the second Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (Switch) yesterday, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said it would further public-private partnerships in areas of advanced cyber security.

Nine research projects were given funding of $15.6 million under a grant call by the National Cybersecurity R&D Programme, which was set up last November to develop capabilities to meet Singapore's cyber-security needs.

Each project is a collaboration between a cyber-security company and academic researchers, and falls under one of the nation's three key cyber-security priorities: national security, critical infrastructure and Smart Nation.

For example, local cyber-security start-up Attila Cybertech is working with researchers from the Singapore University of Technology and Design to use machine-learning in the software for critical infrastructure to detect strange, out-of-the-ordinary behaviour that might indicate a cyber attack.

Such partnerships mean that new research findings can be brought to market faster as there is already a company available to market the research.

"Should our cyber-security researchers arrive at new findings, industry leads... will stand ready to develop them into game-changing solutions," said Mr Heng.

Six projects were also awarded $600,000 under a seed grant call by the Singapore Cybersecurity Consortium launched last September.

Should our cyber-security researchers arrive at new findings, industry leads... will stand ready to develop them into gamechanging solutions. Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat

The funding goes to proposals for proofs-of-concept of new cyber-security technologies and ideas. Among the projects are a safety management system for drones, a database for malware that affects the iPhone, and the creation of a platform for researchers to store and share confidential research data with minimal risk of leaks.

Meanwhile, six firms have won a multi-million-dollar bulk tender to help Singapore tighten its defence against sophisticated attacks aimed at disabling Government websites.

The Straits Times understands the three-year bulk contract, which started yesterday, is worth about $50 million - around twice the value of the last three-year contract that has lapsed.

The deal comes on the heels of StarHub's broadband outage last year linked to a cyber attack in the United States, and the theft of personal details of 850 national servicemen and staff at the Ministry of Defence (Mindef), discovered in February.

The six awarded the contract by GovTech are local telcos Singtel and StarHub, Britain-based telco BT, and Singapore-based tech firms CHJ Technologies, Evvo Labs and Embrio Enterprises.

They are expected to keep Government websites fully available to the public even when attacks are taking place.

Singapore is also setting aside $1.5 million over the next three years to train technical officers in Asean member states to boost the region's readiness to combat cyberthreats.

The effort includes an industrial attachment programme in Singapore, in what Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim said will mark Asean's "move forward as a united and cyber-resilient region".

At the opening of the second annual Asean Ministerial Conference on Cybersecurity yesterday at the St Regis Singapore hotel, Dr Yaacob said the plan is to train up to 18 candidates in incident detection, threat containment, service recovery and forensics.

The budget comes from a $10 million initiative, dubbed the Asean Cyber Capacity Programme (ACCP), announced last October when Singapore unveiled its high-level cyber-security strategy.

The ACCP is aimed at training technical officers, policymakers and lawyers from Asean member states.

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