TL;DR – Some people seem determined to make a bad situation worse…
The incident that dominated the news in Singapore recently is the major hack of the SingHealth database. It was a coordinated and sophisticated attack. We still don’t really know what the culprits really want, but investigations are on-going.
But what’s certain is that the incident has definitely started getting Singaporeans on edge. Many are worried about being scammed or having their personal data misused. As if that’s not bad enough, there seems to be Singaporeans who are determined to make things worse.
Here are some of the stupid things that have happened after the news announcing the hack on SingHealth’s database.
1. Suggestions that we’re only investigating because PM Lee’s data stolen
Mr Iswaran, the minister-in-charge of cyber security, announced that a Committee of Inquiry (COI) to establish the events and contributory factors leading to the cyber security attack, and the incident response will be convened. That’s the right thing to do. But there are some comments online saying that we are convening a COI and having a thorough investigation only because PM Lee’s medical data was stolen.
What a stupid statement to make.
Even if PM Lee’s medical records won’t stolen, given the scale and severity of the cyberattack, do you think that the government won’t launch a thorough investigation?
The government has been warning us about attacks on Singapore. They’ve been trying to get us to be prepared. And now that an attack has actually taken place, how can anyone even think that the only reason the government is investigating because PM Lee’s medical records are stolen?
2. Insinuations government is using this incident as a distraction
The Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) released its annual report not too long ago. In that report, the AGO flagged the People’s Association (PA) for various lapses. Those included lapses in procurement for festive street light-ups and the management of welfare assistance schemes.
There was a comment online insinuating that the government timed the release of the news about the hack to be just after the release of the AGO report to distract Singaporeans. The attack was first discovered on July 4th. It’s only fair to expect that the government to gather more information before making any official announcements about the attack right? So, no matter when the government releases the information about the attack, it’ll be close to the release of the AGO report.
And if the government releases information about the hacking any later, Singaporeans are going to question why the government took such a long time. People will be asking whether the government was covering things up instead. So how can anyone reasonably say that the government is using this incident to distract Singaporeans from the lapses flagged by the AGO report?
There are even netizens who speculated if the hack is just fake news to distract Singaporeans from the transport woes and increased levies and taxes.
3. This happened because the PAP sucks
This is yet another response going around. That the PAP government is lousy. That’s why the attackers were able to succeed. The people who think that clearly deluded. This would have happened regardless which party forms the government. In fact, it’s a wonder that it took so long for an attack on Singapore to be successful. USA, under the Obama administration, suffered at least two massive cyberattacks.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), America’s chief stock market regulator, admitted in 2017 that hackers had infiltrated its database that stores public company financial filings, potentially allowing intruders to trade on inside information.
In 2015, the Obama administration revealed that the sensitive personal data of 21.5 million Americans were stolen when two attacks resulted in colossal breach of US government computer systems.
So if even USA can be victim of a cyberattack, how can anyone reasonably think that Singapore can possibly forever be safe?
Talking about USA, whenever there’s any attack on USA, you get people pulling together. You see hashtags like #PrayforBoston popping up. So why is it that in Singapore, when there’s an attack, we start to blame the government instead?
4. SMSes and phone calls falsely claiming to be from SingHealth
SingHealth has announced that they would notify Singaporeans whose data was stolen via SMS. As soon as SingHealth made that announcement, SMSes with this message started going around:
SingHealth has clarified that they didn’t send out SMSes like the one above. SingHealth said:
“We have been made aware that some people have received the fake text (SMS) message below. Please note that this is NOT from SingHealth. Please be assured that NO phone number, financial information or other patient medical records have been illegally accessed”
No one is sure who started spreading those SMSes. But it seems that the purpose of those SMSes is to sow confusion and fear, and ultimately undermine confidence. The spread of those SMSes seem to be the psychological operation to complement the cyberattack. We wouldn’t be surprised if the same mastermind is behind the SMSes and the cyberattack.
Some people have also reported receiving phone calls claiming to be from SingHealth. Those phone calls claim that they are “verifying” information, and would start asking for personal particulars. That is a common way despicable people fish for sensitive personal information. If you receive those phone calls, hang up. SingHealth won’t call you.
Focus on the work to be done
Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Speaker of Parliament, summed it up clearly on his Facebook post:
“So rather than take the opportunity to criticize and mock, and worse, to sow doubts, let’s just support the agencies in the work that they do, on this and on so many fronts.”
In keeping Singapore safe and secure, there’s still much work to be done. Meanwhile, you can check out for what you need to know about the Singhealth hack.
(Featured image via)