By Lynn Tan
July 25, 2007
SINGAPORE -- The country's success in driving the use of e-government
services across the island-state has intensified the threat of cyber
terrorism, specifically due to the increasing number of locals now
accessing government services online.
Speaking to members of the ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control
Association) conference held here Monday, Penny Low, chairman of the
Government Parliamentary Committee for Singapore's Ministry of
Information, Communications and the Arts, said e-government services
such as the online business licensing services (OBLS) has benefited
entrepreneurs by making it easier for them to set up shop in the
island-state, and helping them to "save valuable time and resources".
OBLS is an online portal where companies can register their business or
obtain licenses required for their businesses, without having to go
through the hassle of queuing up to get it done. Today, twelve and a
half days is all that is needed to set up a business in the
"With the OBLS, we have now lowered the entry barriers for aspiring
entrepreneurs [to register their business and to get their licenses],"
Low said, adding that it now takes 12.5 days to process a new business
application, compared to three weeks previously.
As such, it has resulted in "an accrued savings of about S$3 million
(US$1.98 million) a year for the businesses", she said.
However, Low noted that due to an increased use of e-government services
and the growing "connectedness" of citizens worldwide via the Internet,
the threat of cyber terrorism is now "a very real concern".
As such, the government has placed emphasis on the security and
management of these online sites, so as to ensure that Singapore remains
a "secure and trusted hub in the region", she added.
Initiatives that the government has rolled out include the Infocomm
Security Masterplan, which was launched in 2005 to protect the
republic's critical infrastructure from cyber attacks, as well as to
maintain a secure infocomm environment for the country, Low said.
"One of the key outcomes of this masterplan is the establishment of the
national cyber threat monitoring scheme which went live in March this
year," she noted, adding that the government has taken "significant
steps" over the years to collaborate with international partners through
CERTS (computer emergency response teams) to improve their collective
ability to combat cyber threats.
Other efforts, Low noted, include an ongoing public education
campaign--a concerted industry effort to raise public awareness of
online security threats, as well as instilling confidence in its
citizens to transact online, by putting in place legislation such as the
Computer Misuse Act, the Electronic Transaction Act, the TrustSg
framework and the Spam Control Bill.
Since Singapore embarked on its e-government journey in 2000, the
government has invested some $2.6 billion (US$1.6 billion) into three
consecutive three-year projects, namely e-Government Action Plan I and
II in 2000 and 2003 respectively, as well as the iGov 2010 last year. To
date, approximately 1,600--or 98 percent of--government services can now
be accessed online 24 hours and 7 days a week, Low said
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