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May 30, 2017

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Cabinet forms department for cyber security

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Cabinet announced the formation of a new government agency dedicated to information security on Monday.

The establishment of the Department of Cyber Security (資通安全處) will increase existing information security resources and will allow inter-ministerial coordination, said Cabinet spokesman Tung Chen-yuan (童振源).

The department will oversee the implementation of information security policies, legal measures, and operation standards, including supervision and management of security mechanisms. It will be manned by 20 technicians, but will also direct existing cybersecurity infrastructure under the Ministry of Science and Technology (科技部).

Science minister Yang Hung-duen (楊弘敦) said the creation of a Cabinet-level agency would streamline current infrastructure while increasing responsiveness, but that without legal backing, the move would be "toothless."

The department is symbolic of the government's efforts to develop and improve cybersecurity infrastructure. Next year's cybersecurity budget is projected at NT$840 million, (approx.US$26.6 million), an increase of 87 percent from the 2016 budget, according to minister without portfolio Wu Cheng-chung (吳政忠).

Wu said laws stipulating management and penalties, such as the proposed a cybersecurity bill (資通安全管理法), would move cybersecurity mechanisms in alignment with national security. Such measures would increase security against possible hacks, including those from foreign agents.

According to the department's first director Chien Hung-wei (簡宏偉), cybersecurity measures would be regularized and include security management for important non-governmental infrastructure, including water, power generation and petroleum. The Cabinet deflected concerns last week that private firms would be forced to abide by the security standards, saying instead they were meant as guidelines.

The establishment of a security system would also include non-governmental areas, including, for instance, through Bluetooth management of the internet of things (IoT), and create a set of safety guidelines under a proposed law on cybersecurity. Security guidelines would also be subject to regular testing.

Guidelines for private infrastructure have drawn increased scrutiny following the hacking of First Commercial Bank ATMs last month, when criminals hacked outdated machinery to steal NT$70 million (approx.US$2.2 million). Malware used by the thieves triggered the ATMs to dispense cash.

Chien said the bank heist highlighted the need for specific cybersecurity laws and the facilitation of security management, which would also include financial institutions.

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