“Internet Separation” – the Wave of the (Secure) Future?

To reduce the risk of hackers coming into government database through the Internet, the Government of Singapore has required all public service computers to be cut off from the Internet. Public servants are allowed to use the net from separate computers that are not connected to their government data.

Yes, that means that a lot of people will have two unconnected computers on the go at the same time.

This article explains the process and the reasons, in the words of the Prime Minister. who called the move “absolutely necessary.” He does admit in the article that if a secure system is too much of a bother to operate, people will find ways around it that will lose the security benefits – so the separation has to be done in a “balanced” manner.

Apparently public servants will email information found online to their government computers, so they can then use the information in work documents.

Apparently as well, a user may have the two computers hooked up to the same monitor; he or she would have to toggle back and forth depending on what was being read.

Does strike you as a good idea, a sign of the times, writing on the wall for the rest of us? Is Singapore once again ahead of its time, or is it an overreaction to a threat that can be effectively resisted with less extreme measures, or at least less inconvenience?

(One remembers that Hillary Clinton used her own email server so she would not have to carry two Blackberries, one for official business and one for personal business. Most people do not get into the same degree of trouble for merging their systems…)


  1. This has been around for quite a while as a concept. The technical term for it is “air gap”


    Its (AFAIK) reasonably standard for high security applications, like power plant controls, military and diplomatic applications, very high security applications.