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Singapore, Australia forge cyber security ties

The two countries will conduct joint cyber security exercises, among a raft of measures to secure critical infrastructure and bolster cyber security knowhow

Singapore and Australia are forging closer ties in cyber security through joint efforts to build a secure and resilient cyber space that will contribute to the progress of both countries.

In a two-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) inked by the two countries on 2 June 2017, the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore and the Australian government will conduct regular information exchanges on cyber threats, share best practices to promote innovation in cyber security and build cyber security capabilities.

Joint cyber security exercises that focus on protecting critical information infrastructure will also be conducted. The MoU signing was witnessed by Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong during the second Singapore-Australia Leaders’ Summit.

The Australian partnership is the sixth of its kind for Singapore, which has signed similar agreements with France, India, the Netherlands, Britain and the United States.

Driven by cyber threats that do not observe national boundaries and threat actors that have exploited jurisdictional gaps between countries, both Australia and Singapore have singled out international partnerships as a key focus in their respective national cyber security strategies.

“With countries increasingly connected to one other through trade, global logistics and financial markets, cyber attacks disrupting one country can and do have serious spill-over effects on other countries. International collaboration in cyber security is thus pivotal to our collective security,” the CSA said in its cyber security strategy report.

Likewise, in Australia’s cyber security strategy, the federal government has noted the need to deter cyber activities by “improving the criminal intelligence capacity and skillsets of law enforcement officers at home, as well as partnering with law enforcement and other agencies abroad”.

Besides spearheading bilateral partnerships in cyber security, Singapore has also been leading the charge to promote deeper collaboration among countries in the ASEAN region, through initiatives such as the ASEAN Ministerial Conference on Cybersecurity (AMCC).

The AMCC would provide a platform for ASEAN member states to develop a set of practical cyber security norms of behaviour that would contribute to a secure and resilient cyber space, paving the way for the region to harness digital technologies to achieve economic progress and improve living standards.

According to the United Nations’ 2015 Global Cybersecurity Index, a measure of a country’s cyber security readiness, Australia and Malaysia were both ranked third, while Singapore came in sixth. Malaysia and Singapore were the only ASEAN nations in the top ten.

The countries were ranked based on their commitment in areas such as international cooperation, legal measures, technical measures, organisational measures and capacity building.

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