The attack comes despite robust security measures undertaken by Singapore, a highly wired and digitalized state which has made cyber security a core priority since more than a decade.
On Monday, on a follow up on Singapore’s worst ever cyber attack which saw personal information of nearly 1.5 million people, including its Prime Minister being stolen, the government’s communications minister stated, the attack had the hallmarks of a state-linked group.
On Monday while speaking at the parliament, S. Iswaran stated although the government will not disclose the identity of the attackers for security reasons, it had however determined that it was the handiwork of the ‘Advanced Persistent Threat’ group.
“This (APT) refers to a class of sophisticated cyber attackers, typically state-linked, who conduct extended, carefully planned cyber campaigns, to steal information or disrupt operations,” said Iswaran, Singapore’s minister for communications and information.
Although government agencies had sufficient confidence on the identity of the attackers, it had yet to gather enough evidence to take legal action.
Gan Kim Yong, Singapore’s health minister said, the attackers had made efforts to efface their their tracks which made the work of investigators harder.
“Despite our security measures, the attackers had been very patient, very persistent and very resourceful,” said Gan. “With advanced hacking tools, they eventually succeeded… We take this seriously as there’s no reason to believe that they will not try again with even more advanced tools.”
The government of Singapore, has disconnected computers from the internet at public healthcare centers and has set up a four-member panel to investigate the hacking incident; the panel is set to table their report by the end of December 2018.
Cyber Security Agency of Singapore is working with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) to identify vulnerabilities in their systems and plug any vulnerabilities, said Gan.
Singapore has invested heavily in cyber security over the last decade, as a result, major cyber attacks are rare in Singapore.