By Kuksung Nam, The Readable
Oct. 17, 2023 7:15PM GMT+8
Singapore ― SICW 2023 ― Countries need to adopt a multilateral approach to mitigate risks emerging from the latest technologies, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat asserted on Tuesday.
Heng, who, in addition to being Deputy Prime Minister, is also Singapore’s coordinating minister for economic policies, spoke at the 8th annual Singapore International Cyber Week (SICW) held at the Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre, addressing an international audience composed of attendees from 40 different nations. The subject of his opening keynote address was the importance of the digital revolution.
Heng stated that digitalization is a “new and powerful engine” for economic growth for nations globally. He explained how the transformation improved the lives of individuals around the world, pointing out that the development of communication technologies such as e-commerce have created unforeseen opportunities and improved the livelihoods of those who live in rural areas and island nations.
As bright as the future appears, the deputy prime minister shared his concerns about the risks surrounding the latest technologies, such as cyberattacks and the spread of misinformation. According to a report issued by the World Bank, the total economic cost of cybersecurity breaches in 2020 amounted to 4 to 6 percent of the global gross domestic product. The document, titled “Digital Development,” predicted that nearly $5.2 trillion in global value would be at risk from 2019 to 2023.
Heng elaborated on his remarks by mentioning the difficulties addressing these problems collectively would entail. He stated that international cooperation is facing geopolitical challenges, such as the competition between the United States and China, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. “Rather than work with one another to understand and harness the possibilities of technology, some countries are now adopting a protective stance,” said Heng. “This will not only bring inefficiencies but also the danger of producing a fragmented world. Therefore, the benefits of technology will be curtailed.”
The deputy prime minister called for the international community to take a more collaborative approach so that all countries might benefit from the digital transformation. Heng announced the ambitious new steps Singapore will take to broaden its cooperation with foreign countries and the private sector to build a safer cyberspace.
“To better meet global demand for cyber training, Singapore will launch the SG Cyber Leadership and Alumni Program,” said Heng. “This new program is open to all countries, offering courses at the foundational, advanced, and executive levels.” According to a press release from the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) on October 17, Singapore will continue to spend to enhance their cyber capability at a cost of 30 million Singapore dollars ($21 million) from 2024 to 2026. The first course will begin in March 2024.
Heng added that the CSA will be establishing partnerships with Microsoft and Google to address cybersecurity threats and enhance their national defense. In a separate statement, CSA shared detailed information about the collaboration, stating that both parties will share intelligence on threats, conduct joint cyber operations, and exchange information on critical technologies such as artificial intelligence.
This article was copyedited by Arthur Gregory Willers.
Kuksung Nam is a journalist for The Readable. She has extensively traversed the globe to cover the latest stories on the cyber threat landscape and has been producing in-depth stories on security and privacy by engaging with industry giants, foreign government officials and experts. Before joining The Readable, Kuksung reported on politics for one of South Korea’s top-five local newspapers, The Kyeongin Ilbo. Her journalistic skills and reportage earned her the coveted Journalists Association of Korea award in 2021 for her essay detailing exclusive stories about the misconduct of a former government official. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in French from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, a testament to her linguistic capabilities.