Singapore Assessing WhatsApp Privacy Policy Change, Not 'Adversely Affected' In SolarWinds Breach

 

Currently, it is safe to say that Singapore’s government and non-government departments are safe from the adverse effects of SolarWinds security breach, nevertheless, the Singapore government has made requests to their organizations to protect their systems against potential threats. 

Additionally, the government has also exhibited deep concern regarding upcoming privacy policy changes on WhatsApp messenger, which is one of the platforms employed by the government to provide information to their citizens. The Minister for Communications and Information, S. Iswaran, said that when we got the news regarding the big data breach threat (SolarWinds security breach), our Cybersecurity Agency (CSA) has raised the national cyber threat alert level and immediately started working towards it. 

"There is no indication, thus far, that Singapore's CII and government systems have been adversely affected by the SolarWinds breach," said Iswaran, who was responding to questions raised in parliament. He added that, "The government is, nonetheless, adopting a cautious stance." 

Furthermore, he said that the “CSA had issued public advisories on steps enterprises should take to safeguard their systems against potential threats, including having full visibility of their networks and detecting unusual activity in a timely manner. The situation still was evolving as affected companies continued to investigate the breach’’. 

While advising on the matter, he suggested for the government to move towards a Zero Trust security posture, where organizations should not trust any activities until verification and there should be constant surveillance and alertness towards suspicious activities. Organizations should be establishing strong cyber-attack response plans to cope up with such incidents, as chronicled in the recent past. 

"The SolarWinds incident underscores the global and trans-border nature of cyber threats," the minister noted, “Though difficult to completely prevent, we need deliberate, targeted, and consistent efforts to strengthen our cyber defenses against [such] sophisticated threats, which exploit the supply chain of trusted vendors and software." 

Singapore Government's WhatsApp Channel Has 1.22M Subscribers

Ministry has also responded to the questions regarding WhatsApp's upcoming privacy policy changes, explaining that the government is concerned regarding this too as consumers have raised their voices on the matter. According to Iswaran, at present, there are 1.22 million users to Singapore's Gov.sg WhatsApp channel, which is one of the many platforms used to reach our local population, including Telegram, Twitter, as well as its own Gov.sg website.

Further, he ensured, "Private-sector organizations contracted by the government to perform data-related activities, including the processing and communication of personal data, are bound by contractual terms and conditions. These will determine whether organizations are permitted to share, for their own commercial purposes, the data that has been provided by, or collected on behalf of, the government”.