Singapore is gearing up for a crackdown on cyber crime with the launch of a central agency and the appointment of a minister in charge of cyber security, the government said on Tuesday, as the wealthy city-state grapples with a rise in online crime.

In recent years, Singapore has struggled to combat cyber criminals, who have committed offences including stealing client data from Standard Chartered Bank and hacking the official website of the prime minister.

Computer security experts say developed, technology-rich Asian countries are particularly vulnerable to attacks.

Singapore relies heavily on its reputation of being low-crime and politically stable to lure multinational companies to its shores.

The national cyber security agency, which will start operations on April 1, will consolidate and centralize oversight of cyber security functions, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.

The government also announced the new portfolio of minister-in-charge of cyber security. Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, will fill the post.

The establishment of the domestic cyber agency follows the opening of an Interpol centre in Singapore last year, which focuses on fighting cyber crime. [ID:nL3N0RX14M]

Noboru Nakatani, executive director of Interpol's Global Complex for Innovation, said then that Singapore was likely to remain a prime target for cyber attacks.

Boeing Co said last October it was opening a cyber-security centre in Singapore, its first such facility outside the United States, to tackle the "current and evolving cyber security challenges" in the region.