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Singapore: Cyber security breaches won’t go away

A student types codes using a Samsung Electronics Co. laptop computer during a cyber-defense programming class at the "War Room" inside Korea University in Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. In a darkened "war room" dozens of South Korea's brightest college students are practicing hacking each other as part of a government program to train them to battle some of the world's best -- the shadowy techno-soldiers of Kim Jong Un's regime. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

By BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE • Singapore will continue monitoring risks of cyber security breaches and data hacks as those threats won’t go away, a senior government official said.

Risks need to be managed, but won’t prevent the government from building the city state into a technology advanced one under its “Smart Nation” plan, Janil Puthucheary, senior minister of state for communications and information, said yesterday at Bloomberg’s “Sooner Than You Think” technology summit in Singapore.

“There is worry, and I think rightfully so, as we see issues of data privacy and cyber security around the world,” he said. “We need to keep our eyes on that side of the house and make sure people understand that these are risks we’re willing to take because the benefits are so significant.”

Singapore, a trade-reliant nation with a rapidly ageing population, is trying to restructure its economy to make it a global centre of innovation, investing billions of dollars in research to encourage automation in sectors from healthcare to manufacturing. As a hyperconnected financial hub, it’s also a prime target for hackers.

A data breach of Singapore’s biggest public healthcare group, SingHealth, was uncovered in July, where hackers stole information on 1.5 million patients, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

“We’re very clear that this was a deliberate and planned cyber attack,” Puthucheary said. “This wasn’t a leak of some sort.”