[CONTEST] Think you’re cyber-savvy? You may not be cyber safe - Alvinology

[CONTEST] Think you’re cyber-savvy? You may not be cyber safe

Singapore’s wireless broadband population penetration rate is at 187.8 per cent as at June 2014 and our smartphone penetration rate is at 87 per cent as at Sep 2013. They are bound to be higher by now. Our numbers confirm what we already know when we look around us when we’re riding the bus and train – most Singaporean residents are obsessed with what’s on the Internet.

But do we know how to keep ourselves safe from what’s lurking on cyber space? Consider these seven points to find out.

1. You chance upon a public Wi-Fi hotspot while shopping at a mall. Do you a) gleefully tether your smartphone or laptop to it without hesitation or b) verify that it’s a legitimate wireless connection before using it?

Credit: sd.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk
Credit: sd.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

Cybercriminals often spy on public Wi-Fi networks and intercept data that is transferred across the link. In this way, the criminal can access your banking credentials, account passwords and other personal information that will compromise your privacy.

Your answer to the above question should hence be (b). Laptops, smartphones and tablet devices are all susceptible to wireless security risks. Some bogus links that have been set up by malicious users will have a connection name that’s deliberately similar to the coffee shop, hotel or shopping mall offering free Wi-Fi. To play safe, speak to an employee at the location providing the public Wi-Fi connection and ask for the connection’s name, and password.

2. You are anxiously looking for the latest episode of your favourite US television show. A website tantalisingly displays a screenshot of that episode, and asks that you part with your credit card number in return for being able to catch your programme. It promises that money will not be deducted because you can watch the episode free-of-charge as part of a one-week trial. You a) happily acquiesce with your credit card number and security number because you’re convinced that you won’t be charged or b) you ignore the website and find other legitimate means of watching your TV show.

I was looking for an episode in season 6 of my fave TV show ever - Modern Family. Credit: www.spoilertv.com
I was looking for an episode in season 6 of my fave TV show ever – Modern Family. Credit: www.spoilertv.com

Do not ever divulge your credit card number and security number to suspicious sources on the Internet! You may not be charged that one time, but the other party can save your information and deduct payments at a future date. I did actually do this once and regretted it – I didn’t terminate my subscription to the service (which, by the way, was bogus) after the one-week trial and the website proceeded to charge payment for the full month. I discovered this when I received my credit card statement, and had to call my bank and change the credit card altogether. By the way, yes please be vigilant and always check your bank account statements and credit card statements for any suspicious-looking transactions.

Hence, your answer should be (b).

3. You have too many online accounts – e-mails, Flickr, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, banking, AppStore, SingPass – so a) to make things easier, you use the same password for all of them and they’re related to your birthdate or telephone number or b) you come up with different passwords for each account, but save them in your browser or c) you have different passwords for each account and you type them in from scratch every time you have to log in.

Many red opened locks around one closed blue lock
Please create unique passwords for each of your accounts. Credit: www.ithinkbigger.com

This one is obvious, isn’t it? Don’t use the same password for everything! And don’t save your password in your laptop browser or whatever. All your personal information can be easily obtained and misused if a malicious hacker were to attack your device. Go with (c).

4. To make it easier for yourself to download stuff on iTunes with just a click, you a) fund it with your credit card or b) you use gift cards instead so there’s a limit to how much can be spent.

Please select
Please select “none” when asked to provide a payment method. Credit: cdn.cultofmac.com

Be careful about how you have your permissions set up with it comes to in-app purchases for mobile games. Jack Black’s son famously purchased a sack of “diamonds” for $3,000, for a smartphone game that he discovered. If you have kids playing mobile games on your device, it’s up to you to ensure they can’t make in-app purchases by ensuring the settings are arranged accordingly. Go with (b) in case things go awry.

5. Is your smartphone vulnerable to malware attacks? A) Yes or b) no?

Yes, malware can attack your smartphone. Credit: www.mashable.com
Yes, malware can attack your smartphone. Credit: www.mashable.com

The answer is a), yes. Today’s smartphones are powerful computers and are vulnerable to the same risks as a laptop, PC or Apple computer. Use a reputable anti-malware programme on all of your mobile devices and make sure that the anti-virus databases are regularly updated. And oh, make sure your phone’s screenlock is on at all times (you want to make it hard for a cybercriminal to access your phone) and switch off your Bluetooth (to make it less susceptible to cyberattack). Lastly, don’t jailbreak or root your phone in order to get free apps or services – it will strip away the phone’s security.

6. You receive a friend request from a stranger on Facebook. Do you a) confirm the request because you’re easy-going or b) send the person a message to check if you really know him or her?

Check the requester's profile before adding him or her. Credit: huffingtonpost.com
Check the requester’s profile before adding him or her. Credit: huffingtonpost.com

Ah, Facebook, Facebook. It’s the perfect place where you let your guard down and share everything with your “friends”, including naked pictures of your babies. Or is it the perfect place for cybercriminals to fish for your personal information and for paedophiles to get a kick out of seeing private pictures of your children? Make sure that all the “friends” in your list are really people you know and don’t add or accept requests from people you don’t know.

7. You receive an e-mail asking you to verify your username or password. It looks like it’s from the bank or an online payment service. It threatens to terminate your account if you do not verify your password by clicking on the link. Do you a) immediately click on the link and fill in your password details or b) double check whether the e-mail is kosher before doing anything?

Spelling errors are red flags for phishing scams. Credit: wikipedia.org
Spelling errors are red flags for phishing scams. Credit: wikipedia.org

This is called a phishing scam and one of the biggest threats in cyberspace faced by the average user. Sent out by hackers, the e-mail is designed to look similar to an official one typically sent out by the organisation itself. However, there are some tell-tale signs to help one identify a phishing scam: 1) the e-mail is usually riddled with typos and grammatical errors and 2) the e-mail address it’s sent from is obviously not from the organisation it claims to represent. When you click on the link provided and type in your username and website, you are actually giving it to the hackers for nothing. So before you panic, do a double-take and check whether the e-mail is genuine. The bank or a legit payment service will never ask you to reveal your password.

So many threats lurk in cyberspace. As part of a campaign called Let’s Stand Together, the Ministry of Funny has come up with a video called The Wi-Fi Effect, to alert people about the dangers of mindless clicking and connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi.

So remember, being cyber-savvy doesn’t equate to being cyber-safe! For myself, I am going to be more wary of “free” or “trial” online services which require my credit card details, and I’m going to extra careful when I log onto “free Wi-Fi” in public, especially overseas.

Thanks for reading up till here! Now, it’s contest time.


“Singaporeans are cyber savvy, but don’t know how to be cyber secure. Do you agree? Tell us why.”

Participate and stand to win three awesome prizes!

First prize: Jawbone Fitness Tracker U2 (worth $199)

Second prize: ESET Smart Security 1-year for up to 5 users (worth $120)

Third prize: $100 worth of Y5Buddy Travel Wi-Fi

To submit your entry:

  1. Like the Let’s Stand Together Facebook Page
  2. Share a response to the question posed above
  3. This response can either be in a comment on this post or our contest call-out on Facebook
  4. Remember to tag your response(s) with the hashtags #simicybersavvy and #LetsStandTogetherSG to qualify it as a contest entry
  5. Contest closes Dec 8, 2015!

Check out the contest information and T&Cs here.

More about Y5Buddy:

Using Y5buddy’s portable wifi device is a secure, fuss-free way to get connectivity on the go, especially during your travels. They now provide rentals for over 40 European countries in just one device. They also provide rentals for popular tourist destinations like Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, and more, for just SGD$9/day. For more information, check out http://y5buddy.sg/products.php or email them at [email protected]!

More about ESET Security:

ESET is a global pioneer in cybersecurity and is known for its philosophy of proactive protection against cyberthreats. ESET’s technology and state-of-the-art antivirus solutions allow consumers around the world to protect their devices against cyberattacks, helping them feel safe and confident as they navigate the online world.

Source credits: usa.kapersky.com, apptrigger.com
Credit for featured image: www.ithinkbigger.com


  1. “Singaporeans are cyber savvy, but don’t know how to be cyber secure. Do you agree? Tell us why.”

    Yes I totally agree! If you look everywhere, Singaporeans are all playing with their handphones. They are on whatsapp, LINE, Facebook, you name it they are on it. Even the aunties and uncles I see them with big screen phones surfing social media etc. They take pictures and post them online and even reveal their location.

    So Singaporeans are far from being cyber secure. By doing such actions, they are revealing crucial information to others. For example there are many kidnap scams right now. The perpetrators can collect information about certain people online and thereafter set up the scam. They readily give out their handphone numbers for whatsapp and even meet strangers they have just got to know online. We should all be mindful of these actions and take more responsibility in being more cyber secure.

    #simicybersavvy #LetsStandTogetherSG

  2. I agree. We connect to a free wifi in public without checking if it’s legitimate. We sometimes give our credit card info, again, without checking if it’s a legitimate website. We use one password for all our accounts and even save the password on browsers. We sometimes don’t check if an email asking for our account info is a phishing attempt. And we also sometimes agree to a stranger’s Facebook friend request. We may allow in app purchases which is very risky. And many of us act as though smartphones are not as vulnerable to cyber threats as computers.

    #simicybersavvy and #LetsStandTogetherSG

  3. “Singaporeans are cyber savvy, but don’t know how to be cyber secure. Do you agree? Tell us why.”

    I agree. Singaporeans have got access to technology, and are naturally cyber savvy, evident from Singapore’s move to become a Smart Nation. Most Singaporeans own a mobile phone, and have got access to the multi-faceted Internet. However, many Singaporeans may not feel the pressing threat of cyber-security, they might not believe the existence of the threat in street-safe Singapore … unless such a case befalls on someone they know of themselves.

    With this perception that they are living in a safety bubble away from threat, Singaporeans do not see the need to equip themselves with defenses, defenses which protects them from cyber threats. Hence, it is extremely imperative for all Singaporeans to be aware of the existence of cyber-threats. Many victims fall prey to virtual characters with a false online persona, and the feature of anonymity makes perpetrators even more so difficult to bring to justice.

    Stay savvy, stay safe, start security.

    #simicybersavvy and #LetsStandTogetherSG

  4. we take it for granted that singapore is very safe whether in real life or cyber space. And with the amount of time spend on social media and on cyber space, there is bound to be more risk on cyber attack. frankly i spend a lot of time on social media but dont know how to be cyber secure!

    1. #simicybersavvy and #LetsStandTogetherSG we take it for granted that singapore is very safe whether in real life or cyber space. And with the amount of time spend on social media and on cyber space, there is bound to be more risk on cyber attack. frankly i spend a lot of time on social media but dont know how to be cyber secure!

  5. Singaporeans are cyber savvy as they can easily tap onto the power of technology such as the Internet for their daily activities. I do agree that Singaporeans may lack concrete cyber security knowledge because there are still cases of cyber scams reported on news. However, I still believe that Singaporeans still know the minimal basics of staying secure such as not giving their confidential details like credit card numbers, account passwords easily to others, setting a strong passwords like having Capital letters, symbols and not using names as passwords. I would say that perhaps, it is the psychological factor of Singaporeans that led to people falling into traps which in turn reflect Singaporeans as only being cyber savvy but do not know how to be cyber secure. For instance, the email that threatens to terminate your account if you do not verify may send people in a panic mode and they would not even think of cyber security issues. If it was me, I would too. Who would be able to tolerate an important account to be terminated which can create inconvenience later. Thus, I feel that people could perhaps take a step back, relax and think clearly before taking any actions. It will also be good to get a family member or friend to verify as well! Therefore, I feel that cyber savvy Singaporeans do have cyber security knowledge, but could be further strengthened on the aspect of cyber security. #simicybersavvy #LetsStandTogetherSG

  6. Hi Alvin, the question posed is rather sweeping because it seems to generalise that ALL Singaporeans are not cyber secure. Still, I’d agree it’s true to a large extent. =)

    Personally, I think many Singaporeans believe that Singapore is a safe place to live in. Since we live in a relatively peaceful and safe environment, we are easily lulled into thinking that it is the same with the internet / cyber space. I believe this is due to insufficient cyber education. This is because technology has advanced so fast that cheap smartphones are readily available to anyone, young and old. To put two and two together, we have an increasing group of vulnerable Singaporeans who are susceptible to cybercrime.

    Why is Cyber Security so important? The Straits Times recently report that Singaporeans lost half a million dollars to cybercrime last year – that’s $500,000. The funny yet education Wi-Fi video hits the nail on the head. None of the students in the video even thought of questioning the security of the Wi-Fi network (lack of cyber security sense). While poor Isaac was the ‘victim’ in this video when his $400 order of pizza came, the reality is that any of us could be the next victim, exposing credit card details or even personal details.

    So what can we do about this? I think that more public awareness of cyber safety is needed. A top-down approach with greater emphasis on cyber education will help raise awareness on the importance of cyber security. Online videos are a great way to clearly inform large numbers of Singaporeans. This will definitely raise our cyber defence! A more specific way that we can be more cyber secure is to be wary of unsecured public Wi-Fi Hotspots. It is too easy to set up a hot-spot using a laptop and with some software, malicious people are able to intercept all your information and compromise your privacy. Hence, don’t reveal any sensitive information or bank credentials to suspicious websites. To take civic consciousness one step further, if you do notice that there is an unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot that seems to mirror a legitimate Public Wi-Fi hotspot, eg. at a shopping mall I think you could query the Information Counter to find out if there is any suspicious activity going on. This may help the relevant authorities catch malicious individuals faster and also prevent fellow Singaporeans from falling into the Cyber trap.

    To give an simple analogy. Being smart doesn’t make one street smart, likewise, being Cyber savvy doesn’t mean one is Cyber secure. Hopefully more Singaporeans will realise this and take proactive steps to know the risks of cyberspace and how they can be more cyber secure. Otherwise, they may very well have to learn it the hard way.

    #simicybersavvy and #LetsStandTogetherSG Liked and Shared! =)

  7. I definitely agree. I think Singapore’s reputation as a safe place to live makes people falsely believe that everything about Singapore is safe, but the online world is an entirely different realm altogether. Though the internet has equalised many parts of the world (making information once only available to first-world nations now available to just about anyone), it has also given cyber criminals access to hacking knowledge and expertise. Nowadays, anyone can be a cyber criminal. They don’t have to belong to a crime ring or syndicate; they could be a solo hacker and with enough time, practice, and knowledge, they will eventually find vulnerabilities in just about any system. At the Defcon convention, hackers compete to see who can steal an identity faster (usually they are only given 5 minutes). I think there should be more public awareness on this issue. #simicybersavvy #LetsStandTogetherSG

Leave a Reply

Related Posts