In November 2013, this video went live on Youtube, announcing that ‘The Messiah’ from the infamous hacker group Anonymous was about to wage a war against the Singapore Government, to “bring down key infrastructure in Singapore”.
In the course of the next few days, several government websites were hacked into, such as the Istana website, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long’s website, Seletar Airport, Ang Mo Kio Town Council websites, 13 school websites, and PAP’s Community Foundation. Singapore Art Museum also discovered personal information of about 4,000 people on its online mailing list had been illegally taken from a data file on its web site and uploaded to a New Zealand-based server. Its web site had also been hacked, with unauthorised links added to one of its pages.
I think that it is a very scary prospect that so many of our websites, and even governmental websites can be so easily hacked into. Whilst the consequences of what happened were not too serious (luckily!), it is very telling that we are weak in these defenses. I am glad that the government is realising this and not taking it as an obstacle and threat that is overcome, but rather a warning and a reminder to bolster our defenses in not just the military but in the IT side as well.
Singapore has come up with a five-year National Cyber Security Masterplan, and upgrading the Cyber Watch Centre and Threat Assessment Centre to be more equipped to handle future threats. Training of infocomm experts will also form a big part of the five-year plan, which Info-communications Development Authority of Singapore or IDA, will be working with Tertiary and Higher Institutes of Learning. A CII Protection Assessment Programme will be launched to help industries protect themselves better against the cyber threats.
At a time where information rules and Internet and technology are increasingly smarter and more instrusive into our everyday lives and our society’s infrastructure, we must be wary of the threats that may present themselves through these mediums. War is not longer fought just through bombs and bullets, but rather through disruption and disclosure on the virtual world. Even the FBI is increasingly concerned with Infomation Warfare which include Electronic warfare and Infomation Operations, but also Cyber terrorism. We have opened ourselves up to another front for attack and thus, our governments must step up to protect the country in this aspect as well.
In the case of this, we are only as strong as our weakest link.And I feel that, whilst the government take on the macro approach of taking precautions on a large-scale, we as everyday users of the Internet must also be educated and take the necessary steps to protect ourselves as well.
I think what the government is doing is a timely measure that will hopefully be useful in the future! Perhaps this Anonymous threat did us some good after all!