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Singapore to enhance OT cybersecurity capabilities through partnerships

Nurdianah Md Nur
Nurdianah Md Nur • 4 min read
Singapore to enhance OT cybersecurity capabilities through partnerships
The partnerships include information sharing, capacity and capability-building to help Singapore defend against OT cyber attacks. Photo: Pexels
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The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) has partnered with industrial cybersecurity company Dragos to further strengthen Singapore’s defence against operational technology (OT) cyber attacks.

The two organisations signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) earlier today at the Operational Technology Cybersecurity Expert Panel (OTCEP) Forum 2023.

OT refers to technologies involving interconnected devices and computers for the monitoring and control of physical processes. It is deployed in industrial sectors such as energy, manufacturing, transportation and water.

“Industrial control systems, or OT systems, are increasingly connected to the Internet, because of reasons of productivity or efficiency. This means a successful cyber-attack can have cyber-physical effects – it can disrupt the delivery of critical services, or lead to serious real-world consequences,” says David Koh, commissioner of Cybersecurity and chief executive of CSA.

He continues: “CSA has established this partnership with Dragos Inc to build up Singapore’s technological capabilities in incident response and threat detection for OT systems. This partnership will also enable our local ecosystem to strengthen its capabilities in OT cybersecurity.”

The MOU will support CSA’s efforts in enhancing Singapore’s national cyber defence capabilities through the following areas:

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  • Sharing of threat intelligence and expertise in the area of threat detection/hunting
  • Conducting architecture reviews and cyber risk assessments in OT critical information infrastructure (CII) sectors
  • Contributing to Singapore’s national/sectoral OT cybersecurity incident response framework by augmenting CSA and CII sector leads’ efforts to deal with sophisticated OT cyber attacks requiring niche or deep capabilities
  • Providing a platform to exchange ideas, insights and expertise, such as through talent development programmes and fostering alignment with industry best practices

The partnership will also provide CII sectors with access to expert knowledge and opportunities for local cybersecurity companies to work collaboratively with Dragos.

At the same event, ST Engineering and Siemens Energy signed an MOU to jointly develop OT Cyber Security solutions that will help enhance the cyber resilience of critical sectors. The collaboration will include knowledge sharing, information exchange, and joint exploration or entry into new markets and use cases for the two companies.

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OT training

To further build up OT cybersecurity skills in Singapore and the region, CSA Academy is jointly organising a Singapore-Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity 301 (SG-ICS301) course with the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Around 40 participants from Singapore, Asean, Bangladesh and Maldives will undergo the course at the ASEAN-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence on 21, 23, 24 and 25 August 2023.

The course aims to ensure the engineers and cybersecurity professionals involved in supporting and protecting OT systems are kept up-to-date on how to keep the OT environment safe and secure against current and emerging cyber threats.

Participants will get to learn about Singapore’s OT environment and include red team and blue team (offensive and defensive security) exercises using the Secure Water Testbed in the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD)’s iTrust laboratory. The hands-on exercises will allow participants to gain a deeper understanding of cybersecurity concepts such as network discovery, firewall rules and network-based forensics. There will also be lab exercises to analyse industrial control system (ICS) attacks using real-life scenarios of OT incidents.

Additionally, participants will be able to hear from a panel of local and international OT security practitioners on how to put defence-in-depth in actual deployment for a safer operational environment and the key security considerations when designing and implementing OT networks.

The instructors for the SG-ICS301 course include cybersecurity experts and educators from CSA, CISA, polytechnics, and CSA’s appointed training partner Tegasus.

“The OT cybersecurity sector faces challenges on many fronts. [The above-mentioned] initiatives show CSA’s commitment in working with partners on all fronts… to build up the interdisciplinary expertise and partnership mechanisms to respond effectively. By making better use of advances in technologies, nurturing the capabilities of our talent pool, and fostering stronger teamwork across the ecosystem, I am sure we can make the OT cyber arena – and by extension, the physical world – a safer one,” says Josephine Teo, Singapore’s minister for communications and information, at OTCEP Forum 2023.

Updated at 12.30 pm on Aug 23, 2023, to include the partnership between ST Engineering and Siemens Energy.

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