A cyberattack on the Defence Ministry of Singapore’s internet system (I-net) has resulted in the personal data of 850 employees and conscripted military personnel being stolen.
The stolen data includes national identity (NRIC) numbers, telephone numbers and dates of birth.
No classified military data was stolen in the breach of the I-net system, the government said, as reported by Channel NewsAsia.
The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) added that the purpose of the hack may have been “to gain access to official secrets.”
“Targeted and carefully planned.”
The attack, which originated online, “appeared to be targeted and carefully planned,” Mindef deputy secretary David Koh said.
“Based on our investigations, they are not the work of casual hackers or criminal gangs,” said Mr Koh.
The breach occurred earlier this month, but was only announced on Tuesday, with Mindef saying it had required time to “conduct its investigation.”
Reactions online came quickly.
“How are we going to digitise our nation with this kind of cyber security standards?” said one netizen on Facebook.
“These hackers fail. [They] want to hack military secrets, didn’t manage to, then try to steal personal data, only succeeded in 850 people,” another said, sarcastically.
‘Under constant cyberattack’
The I-net system is a way for employees to access the internet, via dedicated terminals located on premise.
Earlier last year, Singapore pretty much took off public servants off the broader internet, by blocking many agencies from accessing the web on work computers.
While the attack is unnerving, the government decided not to turn off the I-net system, only disconnecting the affected server.
Detailed forensic investigations will be conducted on the entire system to determine the extent of the attack, Mindef announced.
“It’s no secret that government agencies, including Mindef, are prime targets and we are under constant cyberattack. Because of this we need to continually be vigilant and improve our cyber defences,” said Mr Koh.
Singapore’s government has experienced cyber attacks in the past, including Anonymous group hacking the prime minister’s official website in 2013.