Latest News: 18 February 2021

Ministry of Communications and Information
Ministry of Communications and Information

1. Singapore receives first shipment of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine

Singapore’s first shipment of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines arrived on Wednesday, 17 February. The vaccines arrived onboard Flight SQ 7137, a freighter service from Brussels, Belgium, on a Singapore Airlines (SIA) Boeing 747-700 cargo plane.

On 3 February, the Moderna vaccine was granted interim authorisation by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), with the first shipment being expected to arrive at around March 2021. This makes it the second COVID-19 vaccine to be approved for use, with the first being the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The Moderna vaccine is to be administered in two doses, 28 days apart, and is said to have a 94 per cent efficacy rate, according to HSA.

SIA has been prioritising airfreight capacity to transport vaccines, which entails readying the airline’s seven Boeing 747-400 freighters, as well as the airline’s passenger aircraft fleet which will be deployed on cargo operations to increase the capacity for vaccine transportation where needed,” according to SIA.  

2. Attendees of World Economic Forum need not serve stay-home notice period

On Tuesday, 16 February, Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary said in Parliament that attendees of the World Economic Forum (WEF) special annual meeting will not be required to serve a Stay-Home Notice (SHN). The meeting will be held later this year in August.

Sengkang Member of Parliament He Ting Ru asked if attendees of the WEF will be required to serve a SHN, and asked about the measures that would be put in place to prevent the meeting from turning into a super spreader event.

In response, Dr Janil said that both local and foreign attendees will be subject to rigorous COVID-19 testing measures and will be required to use TraceTogether technology in replacement of SHN.

He added that safe management measures “such as mask-wearing, safe-distancing, and mandating the use of TraceTogether technology” would be implemented, to “minimise the risk of transmission and to facilitate the identification of close contacts for isolation.”

Sengkang MP Jamus Lim asked whether there were contingency plans if the gathering turned out to be a super spreader event, to which Dr Janil said that “the prevailing measures that we have for a Covid-19 case at any of the events that we are organising will be in place”, and that “all the various measures as well as regulations around contact tracing isolation and subsequent follow-up will be followed.”

3. Singtel apologises for data breach that impacted 129,000 customers 

On Wednesday, 17 February, Singtel apologised for a data breach on Jan 20, where personal data from approximately 129,000 of its customers, 23 enterprises and former staff was stolen.

Singtel Group’s Chief Executive Officer Yuen Kuan Moon said, “While this data theft was committed by unknown parties, I’m very sorry this has happened to our customers and apologise unreservedly to everyone impacted”.

“Data privacy is paramount, we have disappointed our stakeholders and not met the standards we have set for ourselves.”

The stolen data includes personal information such as NRIC details, names, dates of birth, addresses and mobile numbers, as well as credit card details of 45 staff members of one of Singtel’s corporate customers.

A “large part” of the data taken by the attackers comprised Singtel’s non-sensitive information, including data logs, reports, test data and emails.

A statement by Singtel added that they were “moving with urgency to reach out to all affected individuals and corporate customers to keep them supported on how best to manage the variable risks involved”.

A global information service provider will also be appointed to supply identity monitoring services, to notify users of any unusual activity pertaining to the use of their personal details. This service will be provided at no additional cost to customers.

Singtel shared that the “sophisticated” attack occurred on Accellion FTA, its third-party file sharing vendor. Singtel was first alerted to the attempts in December, and “promptly applied” a series of patches that Accellion provided.

Accellion informed Singtel on 23 January that a new vulnerability had emerged that rendered the previous patches ineffective. This resulted in Singtel taking the system offline.

According to Singtel, the telco’s attempt to “patch the new vulnerability on Jan 30 triggered an anomaly alert”, and Accellion later informed Singtel that the system could have been breached. Further investigation into the matter revealed that the attack occurred on 20 January.

The telco said that the breach was revealed to the public on 11 February, two days after it established that the breach led to files being taken.

“Given the complexity and sensitivity of our investigations, we are being as transparent as possible and providing information that is accurate to the best of our knowledge. We are doing our level best to keep our customers supported in mitigating the potential risks,” said Mr Yuan.

He said that Singtel’s core operations and functions were “unaffected” by the attack, as the breach applied to a standalone system that Accellion provided.

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