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article imageIn Internet-savvy Singapore, government offices to go offline

By Lucky Malicay     Jun 8, 2016 in Internet
Singapore City - As one of the world’s most wired nations, Singapore’s unprecedented information technology development in recent years has been largely attributed to its fast Internet speed.
But, in a surprise move, the Singaporean government has resorted to limiting the Internet access for government work stations for over a year for security reasons.
Starting May next year, at least 100,000 computers used by public servants in the country will be cut off from the Internet to prevent cyber attacks as well as the spread of malware.
"The Singapore Government regularly reviews our IT measures to make our network more secure," a spokesman for the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) told the Straits Times.
Trials have already started among the IDA employees, whose computers no longer have access to the Internet since April. But they can still surf the web while in the office through their mobile phones and tablets.
Aloysius Cheang, Asia-Pacific executive vice president of Cloud Security Alliance, told the Straits Times that the government’s move will push the public service back to the time when “it was hard for malware to extract sensitive information from within government networks."
“Now, it is hard to control any leak on social media or file-sharing sites,” Cheang said.
But public servants who need to go online can use the dedicated Internet-linked terminals.
The IDA told AFP that "We have started to separate Internet access from the work stations of a selected group of public service officers, and will do so for the rest of the public service officers progressively over a one-year period."
The government move, however, drew criticisms from the public.
Susan Tan, a netizen, said the Internet blockade will greatly affect the public school teachers.
“Some of my friends are secondary schoolteachers who need Google to prepare course materials and verify information… They work 12 hours a day and if they need to transfer the data physically from [a PC with internet access] to their work PC, their work load will increase tremendously,” Tan said.
Wilkie Ong said the government lacks confidence in its own firewall, adding “the public service is no different from North Korea or [Burma].”
Singapore has a fast broadband connections being one of the most Internet-savvy countries in the world.
The 2014 attacks on the websites of the prime minister and the presidential residence prompted the tiny Southeast Asian city-state to step up its IT security.
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