SINGAPORE, 28 July – Public officers in Singapore reported 178 cases of data leaks in the government in the year that ended on 31 March, a big 65 per cent increase compared to the previous year which recorded only 108 cases, The Straits Times reported.
According to the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO), all of the data leak incidents were classified as “medium” or “low” severity, the office said in its third annual report on the Government’s personal data protection efforts released on Thursday (July 28).
SNDGO did not disclose details but defined the medium severity data leaks as incidents that cause a government agency to suffer difficulties or undesirable consequences, along with minor inconvenience to individuals or businesses.
Out of the 178 cases reported last year, 14 were reported by members of the public through the Government Data Security Contact Centre portal; which was launched back in April 2020, but SNDGO did not release any details regarding the cases.
SNDGO said the rise in public sector data incidents mirrors trends in the private sector here and globally, as the exchange and use of data continue to grow.
“The pace of digital adoption has accelerated as the Covid-19 pandemic entered its second year in 2021,” said SNDGO, noting that more people and business activities went online. “As more data is created and exchanged, the risk of data being exposed or misused increases correspondingly.” It said.
In the 12 months to March 2022, no severe data leaks were reported in the country, which is defined as incidents that damage national security or the public’s confidence, or those resulting in death or serious physical, financial or sustained emotional injury to an individual.
Until July 2022, Singapore had only two severe data leak incidents that were reported in 2018.
The first was the unauthorised disclosure of the confidential data of 14,200 patients from the Ministry of Health’s HIV registry. The second was the unauthorised access of 223 case files due to a vulnerability in the State Courts’ online system.
Since last year, members of the public have filed 6,700 complaints against private organisations regarding potential personal data breaches, compared to 6,100 reports made in 2020 to privacy watchdog the Personal Data Protection Commission, and 4,500 complaints in 2019.
Source: The Straits Times/Agencies