Friday, 10 June 2016

Singapore public servants' computers no Internet from May 2017


Internet access block for public servants 'absolutely necessary' for security: PM Lee

The move by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore to block Internet access on the work computers of public officers is workable, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Thu (Jun 6).

He added that while it is no doubt “a nuisance”, “it’s inconvenient but it’s doable”.

Mr Lee said that he himself has tested the system from the beginning of the year - he currently uses two separate systems, one for official emails only and one for surfing the Internet.

related:
No Internet access for public officers' work computers by next June
Teachers to continue having Internet access from their computers: MOE
Singapore Government ‘definitely has not given up’ on cybersecurity: IDA


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Singapore PM defends government Internet blockage

Singapore's prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has defended the country's controversial decision to cut off civil servants' work computers from the Internet, calling the move "absolutely necessary" to keep information systems secure.

"Are we happy? I don't think so, because it will slow us down in terms of day-to-day productivity. In terms of security, safety of our systems, safety of our citizens and information concerning them, it's absolutely necessary," he told Singapore media during a visit to Myanmar.

Lee said that the defense and foreign affairs ministries already have separate computers for Internet access and for handling sensitive communications.

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Singapore PM says "sophisticated" cyber attacks prompt internet shutdown on government computers

Lee, himself an avid Facebook user, was quoted by the local Business Times newspaper as acknowledging the move would "slow us down in terms of day-to-day productivity" but defended it, saying the government has been the target of highly-sophisticated cyber attacks for years. "In terms of the safety and security of our systems, the safety of our citizens and the information concerning them, it's absolutely necessary," said Lee.

Critics say the move runs counter to the government's push to become a "smart nation" - a program designed to transform the wealthy city state into a high-tech society. In recent years, Singapore has struggled to combat cyber criminals, who have committed offences including stealing client data from Standard Chartered Bank and hacking the official website of Lee himself. Web surfing will be allowed on employees' personal mobile devices during the internet access shutdown, while there will be dedicated computers to access the internet for work, the Straits Times newspaper reported.

"It's not to do with being liberal or not being liberal," Lee was quoted as saying at the end of a three-day trip to Myanmar. "It's about being safe and secure and doing what is necessary."

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Singapore To Take Government Computers Offline In Response To Cyber Threats
A BACKWARDS APPROACH TO A MODERN PROBLEM?

It has become apparent governments have no real defense against internet criminals. Data breaches are becoming a very real threat to any Internet-connected device. With so much sensitive data at stake, there are very little options available to thwart these threats in the coming months.

Singapore’s approach to taking government computers completely offline may seem like a backward approach to this modern problem. But at the same time, it also makes a lot of sense, since it would mitigate the risk of data being leaked.  Then again, the question becomes why they will wait nearly a full year to complete this move.

Moving over all of the data and creating adequate backups should be the top priority between now and May of 2017. Despite this decision, Singapore government will keep dedicated computers connected to the Internet. Moreover, employees will still be able to surf the Internet on their mobile devices, albeit that might not be the safest business practice either.

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Singapore—with world’s fastest Internet—is taking government PCs offline

Singapore is planning to take 100,000 government computers off the Internet in order to boost security, according to several news reports. Government employees who need Internet connectivity to do their jobs will have access to "dedicated Internet-linked terminals," but by default the civil servants won't be able to go online using government-issued devices, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency reported today.

Government employees have received a memo about the change, which is being phased in over the course of a year. "There are some 100,000 computers in use by the public service and all of them will be affected," The Straits Times wrote.

Singapore government websites were hacked by Anonymous in 2013, apparently in response to censorship regulations imposed on news sites. The latest security measure is reportedly aimed at preventing similar attacks and the spread of malware through e-mail.

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Buzz over delinking govt PCs from Web

On Thursday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he was the first to volunteer not to have any direct Web access on his work computer.

Dr Yaacob has also voluntarily started using two separate systems - one for e-mail and the other for Internet browsing - since this month.

The Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) have also separated Web access from work terminals. MTI started doing so in 2010.

related: One wrong click, and hacker is in
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No internet on office computers
Public servants in Singapore will be blocked from accessing the internet on work computers from May next year

The moves aims to plug "potential leaks from work e-mails and shared documents amid heightened security threats," the Straits Times newspaper said.

Officials said employees across government would also be barred from forwarding any work-related information to personal emails.

Singaporeans have responded with shock and scepticism online.

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Blocking the Internet isn’t the only – or best – way to combat cyber threats

Whatever you call it, this “Internet surfing separation” that the Singapore government is embarking on is going to impact thousands of public servants and many more citizens whom they serve.

And let’s call a spade a spade. Government agencies are expected to pull the plug on Internet access on 100,000 workstations by May next year.

Okay, employees can still surf the Web on separate devices – either their own or others given to them – but there’s no denying the productivity hit that comes with such a drastic change.

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Singapore blocking Internet access on government computers
"We have started to separate Internet access from the work stations of a selected group of public service officers, and will do so for the rest of the public service officers progressively over a one-year period," the IDA said in a written reply to AFP queries. File photo 

Image by: Gallo Images/iStock

The decision will not disrupt government operations, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) said after local daily The Straits Times reported that some 100,000 computers would be affected.

"We have started to separate Internet access from the work stations of a selected group of public service officers, and will do so for the rest of the public service officers progressively over a one-year period," the IDA said in a written reply to AFP queries.

Industry sources said the measure was aimed at preventing cyber attacks as well as the spread of malware that might enter the government email network thought Internet-enabled work stations.

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Singapore unveils drastic move that puts government in pre-internet era

The Singapore government is cutting off internet connection from all computers used by employees in the public sector, throwing up critical questions about how this move will impact its smart nation and e-government services in future.

The switch would be turned off come May 2017 as the government looked to stump potential leaks from e-mail and shared documents, reported local English daily The Straits Times, which noted that a memo would be sent out to government ministries, agencies, and statutory boards detailing the move.

The public sector operated a network of 100,000 computers, all of which would be impacted by the announcement. Government employees would only have online access via dedicated work terminals or be able to browse the web via their own personal mobile devices, since these would have no access to government e-mail systems.

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Following S'pore Ban, Here's What Civil Servants Can And Cannot Do With The Internet At Work

Amid comments on social media and international news over Singapore regressing to the "Stone Age", the Info-communications Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) issued this poster yesterday to diffuse the bad press over its internet ban.

IDA suggests all official references refrain from mentioning that internet access is removed but instead to call the initiative "Internet Surfing Separation" in an effort to separate the misconceptions from the actual ruling to be imposed.

According to the guidelines stated in the poster, civil servants who have to interact with the public would still be able to carry out their jobs and government agencies have been given a period of one year to implement this internet surfing separation programme.

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Singapore public servants' computers to have no Internet access from May next year
The move is aimed at plugging potential leaks from work e-mail and shared documents amid heightened security threats. FOTO: BLOOMBERG

All computers used officially by public servants in Singapore will be cut off from the Internet from May next year, in an unprecedented move to tighten security.

A memo is going out to all government agencies, ministries and statutory boards here about the Internet blockade a year from now, The Straits Times has learnt.

There are some 100,000 computers in use by the public service and all of them will be affected.

related:
Cutting Internet access necessary to keep Govt data secure: PM Lee
Security risks prompted Government to cut Internet access: Analysts
Ministry of Education teachers will still get Internet on work computers


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Some in public service criticise move to cut Internet access on work computers

Some in public service were up in arms over news that they would not be able to access the Internet on their work computer by May next year, saying the move was bound to affect productivity, although the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has assured that there would be shared workstations allowing surfing on the Internet.

The announcement came after access to many platforms, such as web chats and cloud services, were already curtailed last month, with employees in some agencies getting a second computer for these functions.

News of the new policy, first reported by The Straits Times, was confirmed by the IDA yesterday, which said a trial is under way to “separate Internet access from the work stations of a selected group of public service officers”

related:
New Internet ruling for public service 'a nuisance', but necessary: PM Lee
Public servants won’t have Internet access on their work computers by next May

Internet policy part of cyber defence: IDA, CSA

The decision to separate Internet surfing from computers with access to the government's internal networks was made in response to cyber security threats, said the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and the Cyber Security Agency (CSA) at a media briefing on Thursday.

David Koh, CSA chief executive, said: "Singapore is under constant attack on the cyber front. We are a prime target for cyber criminals, gangs, hacktivists and even state actors. As public servants, we have a duty and responsibility to protect the government and the citizens' information and data. It is crucial we prevent breaches and disrupt what is known as the 'cyber kill chain' to raise our cyber defensives.

"This move of Internet surfing separation will significantly reduce the attack surface and make it harder for attackers to exploit our systems. Cyber security is a key enabler for Smart Nation. We can't be a Smart Nation that is trusted and resilient if our systems are open and vulnerable."

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Malware, phishing & other cyber attacks – explained

SO THE G faced 16 online attacks in the last year – mostly malware and phishing activity sent through work emails. While little detail has been given as to the nature of these attacks – when, what, who, how, etc. – we thought we’d take a closer look at the different types of attacks that the G hopes to ward against in its move to delink web access from public service computers, from May next year.

Here are the most common types of cyber attacks, ranging from those that can have a direct impact on government processes, to those that may be used to target officials, and thus any sensitive and confidential files that the attackers could potentially get their hands on:

  • Malware
  • Phishing
  • Denial of Service (DOS) attack
  • Advanced persistent threats (APT)
  • Password attacks

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PM Lee admits Internet block for public officers is “nuisance” and “inconvenient” but “absolutely necessary”

PM Lee said that his Government in analysing how to face the challenge of preventing critical data from being stolen, decided that they can either make the system so secure that it becomes a bother to use, or to block Internet completely for its public officers. It chose the latter.

Mr Lee acknowledged that the move may raise the ire of some civil servants, but said that his Government felt that it was a necessary move to protect Singapore’s and Singaporeans’ vital data. He said, “in terms of security, safety of our system, safety of our citizens and information concerning them, it’s absolutely necessary.”

Despite saying that the public service is facing “severe” cyber-threats, Mr Lee or his Government has so far not properly explained what these threats are. He also did not provide any example of such threats which prompted the Government to arrive at their decision.

related: Government says claims that Gov’t is cutting off Internet for civil servants is “myth”


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Andrew Loh Facebook

This report sounds and looks like the reporters were summoned to take note and nothing more, and then go out and vomit out word for word what the emperor said.

Look, the obvious question any reporter would ask, after hearing what Lee Hsien Loong says is:

What specifically are the kinds of threats you are talking about? You say there are "severe" threats. Can you give us an example of this? And why is the govt unable to deal with this and future threats? What of all those millions and billions spent on infocomm through the years?

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I can’t live… if living is without the Internet at work

IF YOU’RE reading this on your work computer, take a moment to consider how nice it is to have access to the Internet at the office. Come May next year, that won’t be true for people in public service – and they’re not happy about that.

Response to a report yesterday (June 8) by The Straits Times that the G is planning to block the Internet from work computers has been swift and critical.

TODAY said civil and public servants described the move as “regressive” and “disruptive”. One person said it was like deciding to move out after your house gets burgled, rather than installing better security features. Another said it was the G choosing a “nuclear” option over simpler solutions.

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IDA says S’pore “public officers can still surf online on their personal devices or agency-issued ones”

And we decided to ask the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) about this, as the article left us a little confused.

For instance, the term “public servants” is used — with the knowledge that the “public service” refers to agencies and statutory boards, while “civil service” refers to ministries, does that phrase refer to the public service, or to both the public and civil service?

Will government staff be required to address public queries from their personal phones and data connections from next May onwards?

related:
10 other measures S’pore can take to ensure public servants are safe from Internet
Here’s how the public service decided that its computers will not have Internet


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IDA: Banning the internet is “taking a leap forward”

The decision maker behind the proposed ban of internet for the Civil Service, Chai Chin Loon, Director of Cyber Security Group at the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), said the ban is “a leap forward” on Thursday (Jan 9).

“In fact, the Government is “taking a leap forward” to close off one of the bigger sources of online attacks afflicting governments today – the Internet. I would argue that we are not taking a step backward, but adopting a balanced approach in addressing the increasingly risky online landscape.”

When queried why isn’t the government working on ramping up IT infrastructure and security patches, the IDA Director said he prefers to unplug the network:

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Government to Block Civil Servants from Using the Internet on Official Computers
The great internet blockade is underway

By June next year, all civil servants will be blocked from accessing the internet on official computers.

This will apply to all employed in government agencies, ministries and statutory boards.

The move is aimed at plugging potential leaks from work e-mail and shared documents.

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IDA SAYS CIVIL SERVANTS CAN STILL ACCESS INTERNET ON DEVICES ISSUED BY AGENCIES

In a bid to allay fears of Singapore regressing to the "Stone Age", the Info-communications Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) issued this poster last night.

Instead of suggesting that internet access is removed, the poster calls the initiative "Internet Surfing Separation".

Officers would be able to access the Internet with the devices provided by their agency.

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Singapore’s public servants to be cut off from internet at their work soon?

Straits Times reported on Wednesday that all computers used officially by public servants in Singapore will be cut off from the Internet from May next year to tighten data security.

The newspaper states that it had learnt about a memo going out to all government agencies, ministries and statutory boards in Singapore about the Internet blockade a year from now.

It is said that about 100,000 computers that are currently in use by the public service will all be affected.

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Cybercrime, no problem? – The five worst things that could happen to you

When the government announced on Wednesday that it would remove internet access for all the computers used by the public service, the Internet responded with a barrage of cynicism and scorn, most of which could be summarized along the lines of “This is the dumbest idea. Ever.”

To be fair, the government’s reaction was prompted by a genuine concern for cybersecurity. In the news, the agency spearheading this move seems to be the Cyber Security Agency (CSA). Speaking at a briefing with the press yesterday, CSA’s chief executive Mr David Koh addressed the media and revealed that the government has been the target of up to 16 waves of cyber attacks since last April. What does this have to do with me, the ordinary citizen, we ask. For starters, having a cyber criminal hack into your personal bank and government records is a prelude to losing lots of money, time and may even lead to you becoming an international fugitive (when criminals start using your personal details to commit other crimems). Say what?


To prove the point, here’s a list of the worst things that cyber criminals can do to people like you and me:
  • They can steal YOU
  • They can steal your heart too, if you’re not carefu
  • They can shut down your country
  • They can expose you having an affair
  • They can hack your government leaders

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Internet curbs for public servants about finding the ‘right balance’: PM Lee Hsien Loong

The move to restrict Internet access on public servants’ computers was something the Singapore government had “put off for as long as possible”, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday (9 June).

Stressing the need to find the “right balance”, Lee said he was “volunteer number one” when it came to testing out the new system, which now involves him using two separate computer systems and is aimed at protecting sensitive data from cyber threats.

According to a TODAYonline report, the premier called the Internet the “wild wild west” and said that he was initially reluctant to take up the trial but was convinced by his security team that it was a “serious matter”.

Lee, who was speaking to the Singapore media while wrapping up his official visit to Myanmar, admitted that he found the new way of working a nuisance at first but feels that the move is ultimately “workable”.

related: S'pore gov begins restricting public servants’ internet access on work stations

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Wah, public service computers will not have internet access & people are unhappy for these reasons

Through the source of Straits Times, one interviewee mentioned that it felt like a step back into the past where there was limited internet access during work while another respondent from Channel News Asia announced to say that this should not be seen as a move backwards as the government is responsible for protecting all information and data.

Criticism regarding this news has risen and public forums were created for the citizens to voice out. Some mentioned that they felt like they were living in North Korea where everything is being controlled while others were concerned about whether people would still choose to work in a public company.

Although to be fair, we can’t really see the correlation between living in North Korea and the government pulling the plugs (of the internet) off their own computers.

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PSD is doing PAP no favors

PSD’s admonishment of TR Emeritus (TRE) with regards to the latter’s commentator giving the wrong information about how Heng Swee Kiat’s hospitalization is being paid, highlights Ngiam Tong Dow’s accusation that the civil service is ‘emasculated’ from reality Link.

To call the TRE commentator’s information a blatant and vicious lie because Heng is paying using his Medisave/Medishield rather than the tax payers’ money brings us to subtleties. But first, let us asked ourselves what is PSD’s main message? Is it really about who pays for Heng Swee Kiat? I think most Singaporeans would have no problem that any government officials, civil servants and NS men who are sick or injured during the course of duty deserved to be taken care of by tax payers money. Then what is it about?

PSD’s statement to TRE: ‘….Ministers receive no extra benefits for themselves or their spouses/children. All Ministers and other political office-holders pay tax.”

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Smart Nation, dumb move?
Singapore to cut off Internet to public servant computers

Here is the short version of the article:

  • By May next year, civil servants* in government offices will only be allowed to access the Internet via dedicated terminals
  • These workers will be allowed to use their own personal mobile devices for “web surfing”
  • “Public servants will be allowed to forward work e-mails to their private accounts, if they need to”
  • The Asia-Pacific executive vice-president of global computing security association, Cloud Security Alliance, described the move as returning to the 1990s
  • The move is by the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and could affect 100,000 computers
  • *These do not include mainstream schools teachers.
  • Part of me wants to react emotionally and scream why not also limit workers to electricity, water, and toilet breaks? Have the authorities not caught on to the revised hierarchy of needs?

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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's speech at Smart Nation launch on 24 November

In 50 years since independence, we have succeeded beyond expectations. Soon after Separation Mr Lee Kuan Yew said – “Over a hundred years ago, this was a mud-flat swamp. Today this is a modern city. Ten years from now, this will be a metropolis. Never fear.” Indeed Singa¬pore has become a metropolis, and more. We have improved our standard of living. We have created opportunities for our people and we have built a city and country to be proud of.

Looking ahead, we should aim to be an outstanding city in the world. An outstanding place for people to live, work and play in, where the human spirit flourishes. The world is changing fast. We are a leading city today but other leading cities like San Francisco, New York, London, Sydney, Shanghai, they are attracting capital, talent, ideas. They are building outstanding urban environments. They are pulling ahead of the rest of the pack and even of the rest of the countries which they belong to. We have to move ahead with them and stay up there amongst the leading cities of the world. We owe it to our people and we can do this. We have the people, we have the resources and we have the ability to make it happen.

One important advantage which we have which we must take full advantage of is to use technology extensively and systematically, particularly IT. Not just piecemeal, individual gadgets, individual programmes and systems – that we are already doing, and all sorts of devices and applications have technology and IT in them. I am sure just in this room if we add all our handphones together we will have terabytes of storage and gigabytes of processing power but we have to do this systematically, to make the most of the potential, to integrate all of the technology and possibilities into a coherent and comprehensive whole. This will make our economy more productive, our lives better, and our society more responsive to our people’s needs and aspirations.

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Smart Nation Vision

Singapore is building a Smart Nation by harnessing technology to the fullest with the aim of improving the lives of citizens,creating more opportunities, and building stronger communities.

With a conducive ecosystem that attracts industries and talents to join us on our journey, we can co-create a Smart Nation together. This also involves good governance, infrastructure, and boosting our capabilities.

A Smart Nation means people and businesses are empowered through increased access to data, more participatory through the contribution of innovative ideas and solutions, and a more anticipatory government that utilises technology to better serve citizens’ needs.

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Smart Nation

The rapid developments in info-comm technology (ICT) will have a profound impact on the way we live, work and play.

By harnessing ICT, networks and data, the Smart Nation vision seeks to support better living, create more opportunities, and support stronger communities.

This is a whole-of-nation journey Singapore is embarking on. To succeed, we need people, businesses and Government to work together because ultimately, citizens are at the heart of our Smart Nation vision, and not technology.

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Chee Soon Juan 徐顺全 Facebook

The PAP controls the media, sues bloggers and arrests activists, removes the Internet from civil servants but wants to build a Smart Nation. It must know something that we all don't.

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Full Coverage:
'Not uncommon' to limit Internet access
Internet policy part of cyber defence: IDA, CSA
Lee: Internet block is necessary
S'pore hit by 16 waves of online attacks since April last year
PM Lee:"sophisticated" cyber attacks prompt internet shutdown on gov computers
Following S'pore Ban, Here's What Civil Servants Can And Cannot Do At Work
Singapore's government employees offline due to cyber-attacks
Singapore To Cut Internet Access For Government Computers
Why no web: 16 online attacks on G since last year
S'pore To Take Government Computers Offline In Response To Cyber Threats
Singapore can't be a Smart Nation if systems are vulnerable: CSA chief
Government e-services will not be affected by move to delink Internet: CSA
Singapore Government 'definitely has not given up' on cybersecurity: IDA
S'pore hit by 16 waves of online attacks since April last year
Security risks prompted Govt to cut Net access: Analysts
Blocking the Internet isn't the only – or best – way to combat cyber threats
10 Qs for the G about restricting Internet at work - & what it might say
Some in public service criticise move to cut Internet access on work computers
Online access an integral part of work today
Internet blockade at odds with Smart Nation push
Singapore is turning off the internet in drastic plan to bolster cybersecurity
Singapore's civil servants are set to lose internet privileges
S'pore public servants' computers to have no Internet access from May next year
Singapore Govt's Internet Blockade - Is it the right move?
No internet on office computers
Singapore wants to keep government employees off the internet
MOE teachers will still get Internet on work computers
Singapore unveils drastic move that puts government in pre-internet era
Singapore's public servants to be cut off from internet at their work soon?
Singapore—with world's fastest Internet—is taking government PCs offline
Internet access to be cut from public servants' computers
Singapore blocking Internet access on government computers


Credit: mrbrown
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