Fact Sheet: Strengthening MINDEF/SAF's Cyber Defence Capabilities

Fact Sheet: Strengthening MINDEF/SAF's Cyber Defence Capabilities


Cyberattacks, by state and non-state actors, can pose threats to national security. To stay ahead of the ever-evolving cyber threat environment, MINDEF/SAF will continue to strengthen its cyber defence capabilities against cyber threat actors who seek to undermine Singapore's stability and/or pose a threat to national security. Recent cyber-attacks around the world on critical infrastructure such as fuel pipelines and power distribution systems are stark reminders of the increasingly sophisticated cyber threats that countries, including Singapore, face.

Establishment of the Cybersecurity Task Force (CSTF)

MINDEF/SAF officially stood up the Cybersecurity Task Force (CSTF) in Dec 2020, under the command of Chief C4I[1], who reports directly to the Chief of Defence Force. The CSTF brings together various cyber units from MINDEF/SAF to conduct cybersecurity operations across the Defence Sector [2] . This allows for centralised command and control, which improves

MINDEF/SAF's ability to actively monitor potential threats and aggressors in the cyber domain. 

The CSTF operationalised the Integrated MINDEF/SAF Security and Network Operations Centre (i-M/SANSOC) in Dec 2020, which allows for the centralised conduct of cybersecurity and network operations out of a single hub. The roles of the i-M/SANSOC include: (a) Conducting 24/7 monitoring of Defence Sector networks and systems to detect any cybersecurity and network anomalies, flag out potential attacks and coordinate cyber defence and IT responses; and (b) Responding to cyber incidents to identify, contain, and neutralise cyber threats. The operationalisation of the i-M/SANSOC enhances MINDEF/SAF's ability to monitor potential threats that may lurk in its networks, and to respond to them rapidly.

Strengthening MINDEF/SAF's Cyber Defence Capabilities 

To better protect Singapore's military systems and critical infrastructure, MINDEF/SAF has stepped up investments in Operational Technology (OT) cyber defence capabilities. To that end, MINDEF/SAF will sign a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) iTrust Centre for Research in Cyber Security (iTrust) to invest in the training and education of MINDEF/SAF's cyber defenders and the development of OT testbeds to better profile the threats. In collaboration with iTrust, MINDEF/SAF also co-organised the Critical Infrastructure Security Showdown (CISS) in 2020, an OT cybersecurity exercise that enables CSTF to validate its technical and operational skills in defending complex OT systems.

Aside from SUTD, MINDEF/SAF is also deepening linkages with other academic partners to build up competencies to defend Singapore in the digital domain. In 2020, MINDEF and the National University of Singapore (NUS) signed a MOU on a Work-Learn Programme (WLP) for Cyber Specialists[1]. Cyber Specialists can now attend and earn academic credits for modules from NUS School of Computing's Information Security programme. 

This is on top of the existing WLP established with the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) in 2018 where Cyber Specialists, while concurrently performing an operational role with MINDEF/SAF, can receive SIT academic credits for modules from SIT's Information and Communications Technology (Information Security) programme.

These Cyber Specialists conduct specialised real-world cybersecurity operations in areas such as cyber forensics, incident response, malware analysis, and penetration testing. The WLPs complement their on-the-job training and prepare them for technically demanding cybersecurity roles.

[1] Chief Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (Chief C4I)

[2] The Defence Sector comprises MINDEF and the SAF, Defence Science and Technology Agency, DSO National Laboratories, Defence Industry and MINDEF-Related Organisations.

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