A Look at Singapore’s SingPass Biometric System

A Look at Singapore’s SingPass Biometric System

Biometric security has become a mainstream security authentication method since it became part of every day used to secure smartphones many years ago. In Singapore, the government of the city-state itself has initiated a big reform when it comes to dealing with e-services. SingPass, the all-in-one system of centrally using biometric data such as face scanning and fingerprints to log in to government e-services portal.

Officially released as SingPass Mobile, the system enables Singaporeans and foreign permanent residence to deal with government systems without using the vulnerable username and password. “The new SingPass Mobile app will offer a more convenient log-in option, as users no longer need to enter their passwords to log in,” explained the CEO of GovTech, Kok Ping Soon, the project’s developer.

With the new biometric system by dealing with government systems and transactions, users will be less vulnerable to phishing attacks which deal with stealing usernames and passwords. Prior to the implementation of the biometric system, GovTech Singapore receives an average of 150,000 password requests per month. The company is hoping that the need for such will be lesser with the SingPass mobile app, which will help the company to reduce support cost as well.

“SingPass Mobile is another step towards our vision for citizens to access government and private sector digital services securely with a single, trusted National Digital Identity,” added Kok Ping Soon.

According to SingPass’ FAQ, the eligibility for a SingPass account are the following:

  • The minimum age requirement is 15 years old.
  • The following groups of users are eligible to apply for SingPass:
  1. Singapore Citizen and Permanent Resident
  2. Employment Pass and Personalised Employment Pass holders
  3. EntrePass holders
  4. S-Pass holders
  5. Dependant Pass holders (of EP, PEP, EntrePass and S-Pass holders)
  6. Long Term Visit Pass-Plus (LTVP+) holders
  7. Long Term Visit Pass holders
  8. Selected Work Permit Holders who require SingPass to access government digital services.

SingPass Mobile app can be downloaded in both the App Store and the Play Store. Many mainstream smartphones offer fingerprint scanners while top-of-the-line devices have face detection systems as well. The biometric SingPass can be set up by the users once they successfully login to the app initially using their current usernames and passwords. This initial login will be supplemented by a 2-factor authentication SMS, to complete the login process for the first time.

Upon successful first login, the users need to define a 6-digit PIN which is very vital if the biometric fails later due to a technical glitch. The government of Singapore wants to strongly discourage its citizens and permanent resident from sharing passwords and using easy to guess passwords.

In the wake of the SingHealth’s cyber data breach a few months ago, SingPass is the very instrument to deliver a secure and private system and storage of information for the benefit of users with a lesser chance of repeating the humiliating data breach.

SingPass is also the main driving force to unify all agencies of Singapore government in adopting a single login for all their services. Utilizing the benefits of convenience with the use of cloud-powered technology without facing the huge risks imposed by phishing attacks.

The Singpass mobile and all technologies attached to it use a digital certificate issued by Assurity Trusted Solutions, Singapore’s official certificate authority. For more information, visit https://www.singpass.gov.sg.


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