Budget debate: Only 40% of Singaporeans polled installed cyber security apps on phones

Of concern are seniors aged 60 and above, only 40 per cent of them could recognise and avoid phishing attempts. ST PHOTO: THADDEUS ANG

SINGAPORE - Making contactless payment in stores using a smartphone is the most acquired essential digital skill during the Covid-19 pandemic, government surveys conducted in 2019 and last year show.

Also, two in three Singaporeans surveyed last year could use an antivirus software in their electronic devices.

Yet, only 40 per cent of them had installed cyber security apps on their mobile phones.

Revealing this in Parliament on Friday (March 4), Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo said more still needed to be done.

"Using digital technology is only half the story. We also need to better protect ourselves and our loved ones from its risks and threats," said Mrs Teo, speaking on the debate on her ministry's budget.

Of concern are seniors aged 60 and above. Only 40 per cent of them could recognise and avoid phishing attempts, even though more than half were able to search for information online and 67 per cent could use instant messaging, she said.

The Digital Readiness Surveys were conducted by the Ministry of Communications and Information.

The 2021 survey was conducted face to face between November 2020 and February 2021, involving about 1,750 Singaporeans aged 15 and above. The 2019 survey polled 3,000 people between September 2018 and January 2019.

Survey respondents were asked whether they were able to independently perform 10 specific digital tasks related to online transactions, cyber security and utilities.

Specifically, close to three in four Singaporeans could use smartphones to make contactless payment in stores and transact online last year, as opposed to just one in two in 2019.

Also, two-thirds of Singaporeans could use an antivirus software on devices last year, as opposed to slightly less than half in 2019.

Citizens aged 60 or above, or from households that had a monthly salary of less than $3,500, are the most vulnerable against cyber security risks, the surveys show.

Only a third of the 500 seniors polled in the 2021 survey were able to use an antivirus software for their electronic devices, while less than half of the 220 respondents from lower-income households felt that they were proficient.

These groups also lagged behind the overall population in their ability to do all 10 digital tasks. While more than one in two Singaporeans were able to do all 10 tasks, only one in five seniors and 36 per cent of those from lower-income households could do so.

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