Insights from a recent qualitative study conducted by Google and Nielsen across Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia users shows that while Singapore online users are aware of privacy and security issues, there is a lack of action to tackle the actual risks.
The study indicates that Singaporeans are highly concerned and equipped with knowledge on online risks due to public education, but they are not actively practising good cybersecurity habits. Results show that Singaporeans are most likely to take on a “ignore and click it away” approach and are passive in safeguarding themselves from online risks.
The passivity among Singaporeans to take control of their online safety can be attributed to their trust in public institutions and inclination for self-management. This is even more pronounced in seniors who are more likely to depend on in-built safeguards on websites and mobile applications. They also rank highest among the countries surveyed when it comes to placing trust in the government to do due diligence to keep them safe.
Even among Singaporean teens, who are savvy and conversant in digital technologies, there is a lack of confidence when it comes to handling online risks with most sharing that they will simply ‘click it away” when they encounter hacking, online scams and suspicious links.
The findings are aligned with results from Google’s previous study conducted in February this year which also identified that while 70% of Singaporean parents expressed that COVID-19 has increased their concern for privacy & security, 20% of Singaporean parents reported that they haven’t done anything yet to address these online safety concerns. These findings are also similar to a national cybersecurity awareness survey findings by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) in June 2021 which highlighted that while general awareness of good cyber habits had improved, adoption continued to be low. The same CSA survey found that nearly four in 10 Singaporeans (37 per cent) fell victim to a cyber incident at least once in 2020, up from 28 per cent in 2019.
Ben King, Country Director at Google Singapore said, “It can be easy for Singaporeans to be lulled into a false sense of security by depending on default safety features. However, it is important to recognise that the tactics of bad actors online are constantly evolving. As a result, when it comes to privacy and security there is simply no substitute for personal ownership. We want to improve the online safety of Singaporeans by helping them take easy but important steps to protect themselves online. Along with our commitment to products and services that are secure by default and private by design, we provide tools and controls so people can easily strengthen their online security and control over how their data is used.”
Making privacy and security more accessible to Singaporeans
To help bridge this gap, Google will be stepping up its efforts to raise awareness and adoption of privacy and security tools among Singaporeans.
Working with partner government agencies – Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) and Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) – Google has rolled out an online campaign with content creators on YouTube – SGAG and Wah!Banana – to help local audiences understand that they are in control of their personal information with easy-to-use tools. Tackling important issues with humour, the videos feature skits of friends and family in relatable situations, sharing how to use Google’s products to keep safe and secure online.
Gaurav Keerthi, Deputy Chief Executive at CSA said, “Cybersecurity is a collective responsibility. It is no longer just a good-to-know for enterprises and individuals, especially as we are now living in a highly digitalised environment hastened by the pandemic. We need to take preventive action to protect ourselves and our loved ones from cyber criminals. For this reason, CSA is working closely with the industry to co-develop cybersecurity content or initiatives to drive cybersecurity awareness and adoption. Our partnership with Google will complement and help ‘multiply’ CSA’s existing outreach efforts.”
Deputy Commissioner of the PDPC, Yeong Zee Kin, said, “Singaporeans have a high level of trust in our public institutions but there are no borders when we go online, and malicious actors can target us from anywhere. Data protection is a collective responsibility; everyone has a part to play to keep our personal data safe. Through this joint campaign with Google, we remind everyone to build good cybersafe habits for we are only as strong as our weakest link.”
To promote adoption of privacy and security tools, Google has launched an improved Google Safety Center as a one-stop resource filled with practical and easy-to-use tools and tips to manage online privacy and security and to customise digital safety journeys based on their individual or family needs. It is also available in Chinese, Malay and Tamil.
Tools available on the Google Safety Center to help users stay safer online include:
The Security Checkup is a quick and easy way to strengthen the security of your Google Account.
It keeps you safe while using Google and also has personalised tips to keep you safer across the web, like reminders to add a screen lock to your phone, set up two-factor authentication (2FA) and review third-party access to your Google Account data. It also shows you what sites and apps you may have signed in to using your Google Account.
Password Manager uses the latest security technology to create and use complex and unique passwords, without users having to remember or repeat them and automatically warns users when saved passwords might have been compromised via a third-party breach.
Take a Privacy Checkup and walk through key privacy settings step-by-step. Users can easily manage the types of data collected, update what you share with friends or make public and adjust the types of ads you would like us to show you.
In just two taps, users can set up auto-delete or delete the last 15 minutes of history across Search, Youtube, Location and Google Assistant.
Planning a surprise proposal? Don’t let your search history foil your big plans. Take full control over your data and privately browse the web by switching on Incognito mode in Chrome, Search, YouTube and Maps.
Browsing history and cookies from Incognito sessions are deleted from Chrome once the user closes all Incognito windows. No more spoilers!