The 2 Nov Straits Times headline (“Some Government websites down due to ‘planned maintenance’: IDA”) was used to explain away why some 19 Singapore government websites were knocked out on Saturday. It being a Deepavali holiday, Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) cooked up a convenient excuse that planned maintenance is usually scheduled during weekends and public holidays due to lower expected website traffic. Legions of Indian IT staff had to go back to work during the Hindu Festival Of Lights.
On Nov 3, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) added to the lie, stating that it was not carrying out any investigation as the government websites which went down the day before were due for routine maintenance. Which made liars of IDA, who had put out an earlier statement after the YouTube video by Anonymous hackers was first posted on Tuesday, 29 Oct: "We are aware of the video, and the police are investigating the matter."
Come Tuesday, 5 Nov, IDA is telling us the sites were down "due to a combination of a routing issue and a hardware failure". The only clue to the truth is the part that made mention of government agencies being put on "heightened vigilance" in response to "declared threats" against the Government's information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure.
Why can't they just admit that the Messiah made them crap their lily white pants with the Anonymous broadcast of Thursday 0ct 31st:
"Greetings government of Singapore, we are Anonymous and we believe we have your undivided attention."
"Now close your eyes and imagine a legion of Anonymous unleashed upon your tiny island and infrastructure."
Commenting on IDA's explanation about a technical glitch, and not a hack, security expert Shirley Wong claimed government sites are complex and can be more difficult to patch. Occam's Razor points to a simpler answer. Tech in Asia’s report suggests the damage was self inflicted. In the course of switching the primary internet link to a secondary link to carry out the "planned maintenance", they ran smack into a router problem at the upstream ISP. Reverting back to the primary connection, they experienced hardware failure at the primary Internet router. The redundancy fall back system failed to deliver when it was needed, routine maintenance failed to detect a problematic router. Makes you wonder when the last routine maintenance was effected.
The situation is not unlike SMRT waking one morning to discover that some of the rolling stock are more than 20 years old, and nobody ordered replacements. Cedric Foo, head of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Transport, confessed as much,"infrastructure capacity should always be introduced just ahead of demand. Frankly, we are doing a little bit of a catch-up."
Frankly, IDA had a blotchy start up when their first CEO, daughter of ex-chief justice Yong Pung How, deflected detractors of her questionable credentials for the job with infamous words to the effect: "I may not know what CDMA is, I can always hire someone who does." Messiah need not worry about bringing down the communications infrastructure, there are plenty of guys in-house capable of doing same.