Singapore and US to work more closely on cyber security, PM Lee and US V-P Harris sign three agreements

SINGAPORE – Singapore and the United States will work more closely to share information on cyber threats and coordinate their response to online security incidents, as part of improving cyber security cooperation and deepening ties between the two nations.

A new agreement for the countries to share digital information relating to the financial sector was among three memoranda of understanding (MOUs) that have been signed to deepen cyber security partnerships.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the three agreements on Monday (Aug 23), during a press conference at the Istana with US Vice-President Kamala Harris. Ms Harris is in Singapore till Tuesday, and the two leaders met to reaffirm the excellent state of bilateral relations as well as discuss several issues, including cyber security.

“I’m happy that we are embarking on new areas of partnership. We concluded three agreements between our cyber, defence and finance agencies,” Mr Lee said. 

Ms Harris said that she agreed that Singapore and the US must expand cyber security cooperation to address growing threats, and to protect  themselves from cyber attacks on their financial institutions and defense establishments.

Details of the three MOUs were announced by the various agencies involved. 

The first MOU will enhance cybersecurity partnerships between the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore and its US counterpart, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.  This is the second of such agreements signed by the two agencies, after the initial one inked in 2016. 

Under this new MOU, the two agencies will cooperate in areas such as exchanging cyber threat information, coordination of response to cybersecurity incidents and sharing of guidance on prevailing cybersecurity trends and best practices. 

The second MOU is an agreement between the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the US Treasury Department to bolster efforts to maintain and strengthen bilateral institutional ties, as well as to further joint efforts on cybersecurity.

This agreement will enhance cooperation in areas like information-sharing relating to the financial sector, staff training and study visits, and competency-building activities such as cross-border cybersecurity exercises. 

The third agreement is an MOU between the US Department of Defense and Singapore’s Ministry of Defence that aims to institutionalise cyber cooperation between both sides. 

This agreement will help to facilitate information-sharing and collaboration between the two countries as they enhance capacity-building efforts in the digital defence realm, among other things.

Singapore’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs on Monday said two leaders welcomed the expansion of bilateral cooperation on cyber security with the conclusion of the three MOUs.

“Prime Minister Lee and Vice President Harris also recognised the importance of deepening cooperation in non-traditional security domains,” it said.

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