Monday, December 06, 2010
Singapore Cyberattacked and Cyberspied On
The Straits Times reported it during the weekend, and Yahoo has a more detailed story of how Singapore was cyberattacked during the APEC summit last year. The choice of the word "cyberterrorist" was misleadingly odd as the article was more "cyberespionage" and the theft of confidential information rather than the shutdown of critical national infrastructure through computer hacking.
No finger-pointing of those pulling the strings was made but one likely culprit could be the Chinese, the guys who brought down Google on a whim if the latest Wikileaks based on US assessments are accurate. From the comments in the Yahoo article, the Chinese had their Ghostnet going for some time before it was exposed last year and Singapore was probably one of Ghostnet's victims, especially since it was the host to APEC then. It was a good time to steal information from the organiser on what was happening with APEC and the meetings.
So espionage still exists in Singapore but I doubt it is the sensational level like that among the great powers. Who can forget that romanticised media hype on the Russian spy ring exposed this year in the USA and the Cold War era type of US-Russia spy exchange as a result of those FBI arrests.
The APEC cyberespionage case aside, Singapore is not new in the spying and spycatching game. Earlier this decade, the Australians accused Singapore of stealing Australian military secrets when Singtel hungrily eyed Down Under's Optus. Allegations of spying on Australia was the natural drum to beat in the context of encouraging nationalistic paranoia on a Singapore company buying into an Australian telco. The hilarious implication I found behind that allegation was that Singapore was spying on the Australian's military so that the PAP government can take back Christmas Island. Why else would Singapore care about the Australian's defence capabilities? Singapore also arrested spies working here before but we would never know the extent of other cases that went unreported or spies uncaught.