Singapore expands cyber security cooperation with the US

The agreement is expected to expand cooperation through joint exercises while also seeing the countries’ partnership expand into new areas of cooperation.

Singapore and the United States are hoping to jointly expand their cooperation on cyber security after signing a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) aimed at strengthening information sharing and fostering cyber security exchanges between the two countries.

The MoU was signed by David Koh, chief executive of the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), charged with keeping Singapore’s cyberspace secure, and Jen Easterly, director of the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which leads the country’s national effort to protect and enhance the resilience of its physical and cyber infrastructure.

The agreement came as US Vice-President Kamala Harris visited Singapore as part of a tour to the broader Southeast Asia region.

“Singapore and the United States share deep mutual interests in enhancing cyber security cooperation, particularly as cyber security has become a key enabler for both countries to leverage the benefits of digitalisation to grow our economies and improve the lives of our people,” said Koh.  

“This expanded MoU is a testament of our shared vision to work together towards a stable, secure, resilient and interoperable cyberspace. We look forward to continuing our work with the US to strengthen cybersecurity cooperation between our countries,” he added.

In addition to increasing and strengthening information sharing, the agreement is expected to expand cooperation through joint exercises while also seeing the countries’ partnership expand into new areas of cooperation such as critical technologies and research and development.

“Cyber threats don’t adhere to borders, which is why international collaboration is a key part of the Biden-Harris administration’s approach to cyber security,” said Easterly.  

“The MoU allows us to strengthen our existing partnership with Singapore so that we can more effectively work together to collectively defend against the threats of today and secure against the risks of tomorrow,” she added.

The agreement comes just weeks after the CSA flagged an increase in cyber threats, such as ransomware and online scams, during 2020.

CSA’s SingCERT (Singapore Computer Emergency Response Team) handled more than 9,000 cases last year, compared to nearly 8,500 cases reported in 2019 and 4,977 cases in 2018 respectively, according to figures in CSA’s Singapore Cyber Landscape (SCL) 2020 report, released on 8 July.

The latest threat tally marks the second consecutive year of increases in cyber threats handled by the agency. 

“Although the number of phishing incidents remained stable and website defacements declined slightly, malicious cyber activities remain a concern amid a rapidly-evolving global cyber landscape and increased digitalisation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic,” CSA said in a statement at the time.