Think Tank (4/2023)
(L-R) Ms Dongyoun Cho, Prof Chen Dongxiao, Mr Tan Ah Tuan, Mr Chris Painter, Mr Benjamin Ang
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The Inaugural Digital Defence Symposium
17 Jul 2023

The inaugural Digital Defence symposium, co-organised by RSIS and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) Cybersecurity and Information Centre of Excellence (ACICE), was held on 17 July 2023.

This symposium featured international and Southeast Asian defence, academics, think tanks, and private sector experts who networked and discussed common security challenges. These challenges include cybersecurity threats, strategic communications and information threats, the intersection of emerging technologies with cyber and information threats, and civilian-military partnerships in the defence of the digital domain. It was also a prelude to the official opening of the ACICE on 18 July 2023 at the Changi Command and Control Centre (CC2C), RSS Singapura – Changi Naval Base, Singapore.

Plenary 1 explored the cybersecurity landscape and how current and emerging challenges intersect with new digital technologies. It also discussed the necessity for ASEAN defence establishments to collaborate with academia, think tanks, and the private sector to strengthen security while promoting regional digital connectivity.

Plenary 2 explored how defence strategic communications should keep up with digitalisation trends, in which many new technologies enable information threats to spread in the information space. It also discussed how to inoculate populations in ASEAN against the harmful influences of online communities that spread hate, misinformation and disinformation.

Plenary 3 explored various ASEAN member states’ whole-of-nation perspectives on addressing cybersecurity and information threats. It also discussed the importance of partnerships between defence establishments, civilian authorities and the private sector, as well as issues that digital stakeholders should address to facilitate such partnerships.

ASEAN is one of the fastest-growing internet markets in the world. The COVID-19 pandemic and the Fourth Industrial Revolution have accelerated digital transformation to improve national economies, the lives of people, and the efficiency of public governance in the region. The security of the digital domain is critical to the digital ambitions of ASEAN member states. ASEAN defence establishments should work with other digital stakeholders to build the know-how and capacity to deal with malicious cyber and information activities. In that regard, this symposium was an important milestone in the journey of the ASEAN region in building a digital economy and society.

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