Skip to main content

Onus Is Still On IDA To Keep Our SingPass Safe

The announcement that 1,200 SingPass were compromised and that quarter of them had their unauthorized password reset raised the question about cyber security. However, it seems from media reports that the blame is on end users. IDA should also take the responsiblity of the safety of our SingPass details.

A FireEye spokesperson suggested that the breach was probably from a malware in a user's device and that it allowed the perpetrator to access 1,200 SingPass. This raises a strong probability that the communication between device and database server may be not as strong as thought. Furthermore, it could highlight that the database server is not as strongly encrypted as a full section was 
accessed via a single malware.

Media reports noted that IDA was receiving complains over the weekend from SingPass users receiving unauthorized password reset letters and CrimsonLogic only raised the matter with IDA on Monday evening. This resulted in the "hastily" arranged press conference on Wednesday. Given that letters take a day to be delivered within Singapore, the unauthorized reset was probably done on Thursday and/or Friday. From this approximated timeline, it took a week from the unauthorized entry for IDA to hold a press conference.

If there were a spike in password reset, there should have been an alert to inform CrimsonLogic. It seems that either there is no such alerts or the level of requests to reset password on a daily basis is so hight, the spike turned into a false positive.

If the former is the reason, there should be concerns as spikes in unusual activities are not resulting in alerts to take prompt action. If it is the latter, IDA should reexamine how passwords are set.

The estimate period of time IDA took to alert the public is also of a concern. If this was a real hack and data compromise, lots of information would have fallen in the wrong hand. 

The delay in implementing third factor authentication is also a concern. What made the situation worst was that reports  highlight the delay as only one vendor bid for the tender. Surely, security of individual data should be critical to call for a new tender? 

Hopefully, IDA can and will learn from this incident. While CrimsonLogic has assured that no data was compromised, there should be more security and encryption especially in how the data is communicated from end to end and how it is being stored.


Anonymous said…
This happens only once in 50 years. But the Mat keeps making stupid comments almost everyday
Unknown said…
Even if this is an "innocent" breech" this incident would have alerted real hackers to probe for other weaknesses. Although I am not an IT-security guy, I can think of two simple weaknesses.

First: Using our IC No as a default ID already simplifies half the task for hacking since its not difficult to obtain lists of valid ICs, with the check alphabet. eg just get hold of a bunch of entry forms for supermarket lucky draws. So only need to guess the password.
Secondly: Get entry into the sign-in database of a large corporation in SG eg telcos, banks etc with large online user base. Take the IC numbers, telephone numbers and passwords, cover tracks and exit. Use this list to hack into SingPass. Many users tend to used the same password so there will be a reasonable hit rate that the attack will not attract suspicion.

Conclusion: letting us use IC No is an user friendly idea but since IC numbers are not randomly generated, the security regime need to be thought through even more rigourously such as making in compulsory for those who retain the IC as default to register their handphone to receive an SMS code for transaction validation. (and for the occasion when you lose your phone and urgently need to use Singpass, allow you to register your home phone or alternative mobile to receive a call from theif call centre etc.

Popular posts from this blog

Why is Ramly Burger banned in Singapore?

Yahoo Singapore ran an article of the Ramly Burger by highlighting that it is ban in Singapore.

Yet, the writer from Makansutra failed to address the most important issue of why the Ramly meat patty is banned in Singapore.

A search online easily did highlight that the famous Malaysian meat patty is banned by the AVA but didn't go into details.

Wrote Arlina Arshad for The Straits Times in January 2004,

"But the importing of beef and beef products from Malaysia is not permitted, said theAgri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA).

Selling and supplying them without a permit is also an offence, and offenders can befined as much as $50,000 or jailed two years, or both, said the AVA."

In May of the same year, another article highlighted that a man was even charged in court for "smuggling" the Ramly burger in 2004.

"The AVA said that meat products processed in Malaysian food factories which it had notapproved were banned here.Suzali was yesterday jailed for four month…

Social Media 101: How To Be The Most Hated Person In Singapore Instantly

It is amazing how we are quick to forget that a single wrong comment on social media can make one the most hated person in Singapore.

Back in 2012, we had Amy Cheong. Her comments on Facebook about a Malay wedding under her HDB void deck resulted in an online CSI that cost her her job.

Fast forward to 2017 and we have Thomas Chua Poh Heng and whose name will forever live in Internet infamy.

Thomas reposted a video of the funeral of a Traffic Policeman who died while on duty. Thomas then commented that his death was well deserve as Thomas was once given a traffic ticket by the same Traffic Policeman.

Even the Home Minister for Singapore, who is responsible for the Police Force, was offended by Thomas' statement.

The screenshot showed that post was marked global by the Globe image next to the Singapore tag which could hint that this post was meant for all to see. As such, the argument of a "private"post does not hold any weight here.

Just as expected, after this post was s…

Google Post Now Available for Google My Business

Google Post, which was previously available for the US Elections in 2016, is now available for all small business who have registered their business with Google My Business.

Google Post allow you to put small snippets about a promotion, event, or show case new products,etc.

Take my company's Google My Business layout above. If you Google "NetGain Systems", you will see the NetGain Systems Pte Lte Google Business Profile. Below the profile is the Google Post of our free IT monitoring software.

According to Search Engine Land,

Google says this give businesses the ability to:

Share daily specials or current promotions that encourage new and existing customers to take advantage of your offers.
Promote events and tell customers about upcoming happenings at your location.
Showcase your top products and highlight new arrivals.
Choose one of the available options to connect with your customers directly from your Google listing: give them a one-click path to make a reservation, sign …