MINDEF Data Theft : So Much For Smartnation


By: B Goode

When the Smartnation initiative was first announced, the paranoid amongst us along with some techgurus raised red flags above the confetti strewn by Vivian Balakrishnan. We warned that if not properly designed especially in the security aspect, it could lead to all kinds of malicious repercussions.

But all that was brushed aside with the typical government half-assed assurance that the initiative would be secured and hardened against cyberattacks. Some of us were still not convinced because for Smartnation to work as intended, and that is for a seamless and fluid data gathering and sharing, the system cannot be made too hard. There can only be so many doors with locks and keys before the system is rendered too cumbersome to be useful.

And so today it was announced that there was a breach in one of MINDEF’s computer system causing the compromise of a few hundred NSmen identities. The incident is now under investigations and so it will not be appropriate to comment at this stage.

But imagine if the Smartnation initiative was in full swing. That breach would have caused untold damage to the personnel affected. Using the stolen data, the hacker could have access to other government departments linked to that compromised database via Smartnation and do whatever hackers do.

Hopefully this incident would serve as a wake-up call to the government that in their rigorous attempt at being the first nation in the world to be linked digitally, they should not forget the basics. A building is as safe as its foundation.

The government should not only look at the technological aspect of the system. The people running the system are also to be considered as potential accessories to hacking. They should be screened thoroughly and punishments for any indiscretions are to be calibrated appropriately to reflect the seriousness of the offence.

The safeguard of the people’s identities demands it.

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