The Defence Ministry of Singapore was left reeling after a cyber attack on the ministry’s internet system, dubbed I-net, which resulted in the theft of the personal data belonging to 850 of the ministry’s employees and military personnel.
According to a news report by Channel NewsAsia, the government did not lose any confidential military data in the cyber attack, which was purportedly an attempt to steal official information of a classified nature.
Other than the theft of employee and military personnel data—national ID numbers, dates of birth, and phone numbers—the cyber attack did not result in the theft of passwords or any further data breaches within Singapore’s Ministry of Defence.
Cyber Attack was Carefully Orchestrated
Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, David Koh, had reason to believe that the cyber attack was carefully planned and looked to have been in the works for quite some time.
Being a fundamental government entity, the Ministry of Defence is prone to cyber attacks of this nature.
Koh admitted that pulling off an attack of such magnitude on Singapore’s government was not a small feat.
As such, he believes that the perpetrators behind the cyber attack are more than just regular hackers.
The breach had been kept under wraps for almost an entire month during which, according to Koh, the Ministry of Defence had adequate time to conduct and conclude their private investigations.
The late announcement of the breach did not bode well for the public, as expected.
Comments left on Facebook and other social media sites ranged from outrage at the government for being hacked and ridicule at the hackers who only made away with a compensatory token after failing to get access to Singapore’s military secrets.
The general atmosphere was, however, the expression of a lack of faith in the government’s abilities to digitize the nation of Singapore, citing their poor cybersecurity measures as a major flaw.
Singapore is not the only government to fall victim to a cyber attack.
A popular pre-election headline during last year’s campaign period was that Russia had somehow hacked into the US Democratic Party’s computer network, where they stole sensitive campaign and election plans.
Cyber attacks are indeed becoming more frequent, a fact that was pointed out by the NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for emerging security challenges, who felt that the increase in cyber attacks was detrimental to the fundamental principles of democracy in general.
I-net System Apparently Not Completely Secure
Implemented early last year, the I-net system was created by the Singaporean Government for public servants as a way of preventing them from accessing the general internet on work computers.
A sound security measure, it was engineered to prevent the occurrences of scenarios such as these.
Now in the wake of the cyber attack, the I-net internet system no longer appears to be the impenetrable network of dedicated on-premise terminals it was originally thought to be.
Despite the severity of the cyber attack, the Singaporean government did not shut down the I-net system, but rather disconnected the compromised server.
Since the conclusion of the investigations into the matter, the Ministry of Defence is reportedly looking to launch a full forensic investigation into the I-net system in its entirety to identify the flaws it may have and to determine the precise extent to which the cyber attack might have affected the internet system.
Ministry of Defence Stays Vigilant
Koh said that the ministry is aware that they are targeted by hackers from all over the world.
He said that the ministry is ready to prevent cyber attacks of such magnitude in the future, and admitted that a lack of proper security might necessitate the upgrading of their cyber defenses in the near future.
He also revealed that the ministry is constantly under the threat of a cyber attack, most of which are often successfully deflected.
The other cyber attack on the Singaporean government that is worth calling to mind is the hacking of the official website of Singapore’s Prime Minister back in 2013.
A prominent hacking outfit known plainly as “Anonymous” later claimed responsibility for the cyber attack.