Singapore has been consistently ranked as one of the easiest countries in the world with which to do business. In addition to its socio-political stability and excellent business infrastructure, Singapore’s infocomm infrastructure is one of the most advanced in the world. In June 2006, the government officially launched Intelligent Nation 2015 (iN2015), its program to transform Singapore into an “intelligent nation, a global city, powered by infocomm”. The program highlights goals, strategies and opportunities for the infocomm industry in Singapore. As the government seeks to be number one in the world in utilizing infocomm to enhance the economy and society, an increase in the demand for IT services and products is expected to follow.
Consumption of IT products and services has grown consistently among households, individuals and enterprises. The wireless market is growing rapidly and 3G subscriptions have more than doubled in the last two years. The government is a major purchaser of IT services and products, with 74 government agencies expected to maintain a uniform IT system. In its goal of becoming an infocomm and financial hub, the government has brought issue of IT security to the forefront. This will intensify the demand for security software in Singapore.
The global economic downturn has forced companies to become more stringent in their IT purchasing decisions. However, analysts do not foresee any dramatic decrease in demand for security products and services. The best prospects will be in application software, secure file transfer, anti-spamware, and database security. In 2009, the financial services, manufacturing and construction, and public sectors will either increase or maintain current IT spending levels.
The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore launched its infocomm master plan, Intelligent Nation 2015 (“iN2015”), in June 2006. The success of this plan in enhancing Singapore’s overall security awareness of the public sector has led the government to launch the Infocomm Security Masterplan 2 (MP2), a S$70 million, five-year roadmap that aims to build upon the accomplishments of the first Masterplan. This Plan, launched in April 2008, is aimed at boosting the resilience of Singapore’s overall telecommunications infrastructure, bringing together the private, public, and people sectors. There are four objectives to the MP2: harden national infocomm infrastructure and services, enhance infocomm security competencies, cultivate a vibrant infocomm security ecosystem, and increase international collaboration.
The Association of Information Security Professionals (AISP), launched in April 2008, is a new program initiated by the MP2. The first of its kind in Asia, the AISP is a collaborative effort between the government and industry aiming to raise the reputation, professionalism and trust of infocomm security professionals in Singapore. Prior to the launch of the AISP, cyber security programs and initiatives were driven largely by the government, most notably the IDA and Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Now there is an industry-led, formal body that combines the public and private sector to pursue a common interest. Currently, there are more than 120 members, and a total of 900 members are expected by 2011.
In October 2008, the MAS, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) of Singapore, and the Singapore Exchange Ltd (SGX) issued the Audit Committee Guidance Committee Guidebook for Audit Committees in Singapore. With regards to information technology, the Guidebook calls for regular internal audits to identify the critical IT systems and functions that support the financial reporting process. The report states that for companies who rely on sophisticated integrated systems for their operations, the audit committee should include a member who is knowledgeable about IT systems and control.
There has been an increase in household and enterprise consumption of IT products and services. According to the Singapore government agency Infocomm Development Authority (IDA)’s 2008 Annual Survey on Infocomm Usage in Households and by Individuals, the proportion of households with Internet access has reached 76% and the percentage of internet users is at an all-time high of 69%. Primary activities engaged by internet users include sending or receiving emails, general web browsing, and getting information about goods and services. However, only 36% of those surveyed used the Internet for online shopping due to a desire to shop in person and a lack of interest, and 10% cited security concerns as the main barrier to online shopping. Compared to 2007, there was a higher proportion of shoppers spending between S$200 and S$1999 for their online purchases in 2008. To spur e-commerce growth and enhance consumer and business confidence, the government launched the National Trust Framework (NTF) under iN2015 in June 2006. With the increasing adoption of online services, such as banking, healthcare and commerce, the NTF was conceptualized to help minimize security risks to valuable and sensitive data.
According to IDA research, there has been a general improvement in infocomm adoption among enterprises in 2008. Computer usage rose to 76%, and internet usage reached 72% among all enterprises. Computer and internet usage by enterprises with 50 or more employees has reached saturation level.
According to IDA statistics for June 2009, the total number of residential broadband subscriptions reached 1,331,200 with a penetration rate of 115.2%. Corporate broadband subscriptions reached 123,600. The wireless market in Singapore is growing quickly with a mobile penetration rate of 131%. Singapore’s 3G subscribers more than doubled from 1,081,400 in March 2007 to 2,602,900 in 2009.
In 2007, IDA kicked off Wireless@SG, a program designed to provide wireless service in public areas across the island. The government chose three local companies, iCell Network, QMax Communications, and SingTel, to implement this program. Users will be able to access the wireless service with speeds of up to 512 Kbps free of charge until March 31, 2013. From September 2009 onwards, wireless speeds will double to 1 Mbps. With a registered account, users are able to roam to any of Wireless@SG’s coverage areas, regardless of the operator’s network. According to IDA, by July 2009, the program had about 1.3 million registered users and over 7,500 hotspots around the island.
Complementing the increasing wireless use in Singapore is the rise in notebooks. In a survey by AMIPartners, Singapore’s small businesses with up to 99 employees are expected to spend US$235 million on notebook computers. This means that more users will be accessing data remotely, increasing the need for security controls.
By Mai Katelyn Vay