More S'poreans hit by cyber attacks; CSA launches awareness campaign

SINGAPORE – More people in Singapore fell prey to cyber criminals last year, such as through having their online accounts hacked, according to a new government survey.

And even though more people are now aware of the dangers and consequences of cyber attacks, such as in ransomware which locks up their files until they pay the hackers, many still think they are unlikely to be targeted and victimised themselves.

Nearly four in 10 people here, or 37 per cent, reported being victims of at least one cyber-security incident last year, according to findings from the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore’s (CSA) Cybersecurity Awareness Survey released on Monday (June 28).

This is up from almost three in 10, or 28 per cent, in 2019.

The top three most common cyber incidents reported by people in the poll were: unauthorised attempts to access their online accounts; having their accounts used by hackers to contact other people; and being locked out of their online accounts or files by hackers.

CSA chief executive David Koh said that even as the Covid-19 pandemic has led to more day-to-day activities being conducted digitally, “it is important that we are all aware of and adopt good cyber hygiene to stay safe online in the light of our greater digital footprint”.

He said that while CSA’s survey showed that more people are aware of cyber threats, many still believe that they will not be targeted by cyber criminals.

The survey, which polled about 1,000 Singaporeans and permanent residents online last December, found that awareness of phishing has risen.

The study showed that 72 per cent said they knew what phishing was – hackers posing as others to dupe victims into giving up their personal data. This figure is up from 66 per cent in 2019. 

More people could also identify phishing e-mails, with 73 per cent able to correctly figure out whether more than half of the e-mails presented to them were phishing ones or not. The year before, the figure was 61 per cent.

Concern about cyber-security incidents remained high and rose marginally here, by about 1 percentage point to 3 percentage points across different incidents.

But far fewer people thought they would be targeted, although there was a 3 percentage point to 6 percentage point increase.

For instance, 85 per cent of respondents were moderately or extremely concerned about having their financial information obtained by others without their consent last year, a tad higher than 82 per cent the year before.

But just 40 per cent believed it was somewhat or extremely likely that this would happen to them, although this was higher than in 2019 when 35 per cent said so.

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To encourage more people to adopt better cyber practices and be more aware of the threats, CSA on Monday launched the “Better Cyber Safe than Sorry” national cyber-security awareness campaign.

This is the fourth such awareness campaign held by the CSA since 2017 and keeps the focus on four areas:

– The need to use strong passwords and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) to secure online accounts

– Being vigilant and learning how to spot signs of phishing

– Using anti-virus software to prevent malware infections

– Updating and patching software to protect devices

To encourage more people to adopt better cyber practices and be more aware of the threats, CSA on Monday launched the “Better Cyber Safe than Sorry” national cyber-security awareness campaign. PHOTOS: CYBER SECURITY AGENCY OF SINGAPORE

As part of the campaign, the agency is partnering online shopping platform Shopee, online marketplace Carousell and supermarket chain FairPrice.

Cyber-security awareness materials will be put up on the Shopee and Carousell apps, as well as in 150 FairPrice outlets.

Alongside the national campaign, CSA is rolling out several related education initiatives.

It will be running a new programme to raise awareness of cyber security and encourage better cyber practices among seniors over the next two years, until 2023.

Called the SG Cyber Safe Seniors Programme, it aims to reach out to 50,000 senior citizens, and will be supported by the police and the Infocomm Media Development Authority.

The programme seeks to bring the three agencies existing efforts on cyber security, cybercrime and digital literacy under one umbrella, covering issues such as cyber threats and online scams, and offering cyber tips in the four national languages.

CSA is also planning to use video games and drama skits to engage primary and secondary school students on cyber-security matters in the third quarter.

For small and medium-sized enterprises, the agency is rolling out cyber-security toolkits – for business leaders, technical teams and employees – on cyber-security issues and threats, as well as what measures can be taken to combat these.

The toolkits for company leaders and staff are planned to be launched by the end of the year.

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