SINGAPORE – A new programme by Singtel aims to prepare small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to better handle the threat of cyber attacks.

To be offered under the telco’s Cyber Security Institute, the Cyber Elevate Programme will include a two-day workshop where companies will be assessed on their cyber risk profile, and learn how to create a workflow for identifying cyber incidents and what to do when machines are infected with malware.

They will also get legal and forensics support for a year from law firm Drew & Napier and cyber incident response company Blackpanda, Singtel’s partners in the programme.

SMEs participating in the programme will also be eligible for a year of cloud backup service from Singtel at no additional cost. 

Singtel chief executive Ng Tian Chong said SMEs may be more vulnerable to cyber attacks, as they may lack the resources or know-how to deal with such incidents. 

“Our team of experts will work with SMEs to build new capabilities and skill sets in spotting cyber attacks, identifying key assets to protect, and creating workflows to limit the impact of an attack,” said Mr Ng at the Cyber Security Institute’s premises in Tampines on Wednesday.

Speaking at an event marking the launch of the programme, Mr Ng noted that the firms will also be counselled on how to report a breach and respond to stakeholders, as well as how to manage the attack depending on the requirements of their industries.

While both SMEs and large corporations are eligible for the new programme, SMEs enjoy higher subsidies and need to pay only 10 per cent of the fees, capped at $3,000.

To qualify as an SME, companies must be registered and incorporated in Singapore and have at least 30 per cent local shareholding by Singapore citizens or permanent residents, and should have an annual sales turnover of not more than $100 million or have no more than 200 employees.

One company that has signed up for the programme is pastry retailer Polar Puffs & Cakes. 

Its chief executive Francis Looi said the initiative will give the firm an opportunity to examine whether its existing cyber-security measures provide sufficient protection against the threat of attack.

In its Singapore Cyber Landscape 2022 report released in June, the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) noted that almost 40 per cent of cyber attacks here target SMEs, which make up more than 90 per cent of the economy. 

The report identified SMEs in sectors such as manufacturing and retail as the worst hit by ransomware, noting that while they held valuable data and intellectual property, such companies lacked dedicated resources to counter cyber threats.

CSA said then that it will launch a scheme later in 2023 to provide subsidised cyber-security consultancy services and tailored cyber-security health plans for SMEs to work towards national cyber-security certification.

Speaking at the event, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary said the authorities are committed to supporting SMEs. 

He pointed to the free cyber-security toolkits provided by CSA on its website, which help SME owners learn how to keep their firms safe from cyber threats, as well as its “chief information security officer as a service” scheme, which helps small businesses develop customised cyber-security health plans.

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