3 in 4 kids have faced cyber risk: How to protect your household from scammers

Online crimes are a growing risk across the world, but practising good digital hygiene habits can help to protect yourself and your loved ones

Cyber scammers have gotten more creative with their modus operandi and are quick to adapt their schemes to the way we live, work and play online. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

A fake WhatsApp business account that purported to offer jobs at Singapore Armed Forces camps. Phishing emails that were sent to consumers who had previously lodged real complaints with Case. A love scam that was so convincing that a mother of three gave up her marriage and transferred more than $200,000 to her lover.

Despite growing awareness of online scams, reports of victims falling prey to the scourge have continued to make headlines, and are unlikely to abate – especially as scammers are constantly modifying their modus operandi to evade detection.

The victims of these scams hail from various backgrounds, but it's important to note that some internet dangers are specifically aimed at the youth and elderly populations.

Watch adorable cats explain how to protect yourself from scams in the video below.

SPH Brightcove Video

For example, international think-tank DQ Institute revealed recently that in the year leading up to September 2022, almost three in four (73 per cent) children and adolescents aged from eight to 18 around the world experienced at least one cyber risk, including cyber bullying, exposure to violent and sexual content and offline meetings with strangers.

For seniors, unfamiliarity with good online habits could lead to them unknowingly downloading and installing malware into their computers and devices.

Government measures and industry protection

Scammed victims hail from various backgrounds, but some internet dangers are specifically aimed at the youth and elderly populations. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Nevertheless, support systems are in place to ensure that everyone can still go about their online lives safely and assuredly and help their loved ones do the same.

At the national level, efforts are ongoing to strengthen protection against the multitude of online dangers.

For instance, in November of last year, the Online Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill was introduced in Parliament so that the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has the legislative levers to issue directives to social media platforms to remove harmful online content on self-harm, child exploitation, sexual violence, and terrorism.

The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore's SG Cyber Safe Seniors Programme, on the other hand, was launched to raise the elderly’s awareness of cybersecurity and encourage adoption of good cyber hygiene practices.

Singtel, a leading telecommunications company in Asia, has also implemented anti-scam filtering solutions within their mobile networks to filter scam messages before they reach consumers, while IMDA has begun labelling text messages from organisations that have not signed up with its central registry as “likely scam” from Jan 31, 2023, onwards.

Even with government and industry protection, online threats require a multi-prong approach to tackle.

Multi-generational security options

For families with young children, an option to consider is the Parental Control pass  by Qustodio, a Singtel exclusive add-on to the telco’s broadband and mobile services. The app allows parents to monitor their children’s screen time and usage of apps through a real-time dashboard, and restrict access to inappropriate content and set time limits. There is also a SMS monitoring feature, which allows parents to see text messages and block contacts from specific phone numbers.

After all, a recent Google-led survey found that the average age for a child to own a mobile phone is 10, while the average age the child is educated about online safety is 13. For those with elderly at home, it is crucial to regularly remind them of scam alerts and government anti-scamming measures.

As a start, get them acquainted with good cyber habits, such as having a password manager and using Two-factor (2FA) authentication where possible. Next, install an internet security suite or virtual private network (VPN) to add an additional layer of defence for their smart devices.

The Singtel broadband and mobile add-on, Security Suite Triple Protect powered by McAfee, sends out an early alert if data is found as part of a breach. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

In multi-generational households where it is not uncommon to have multiple computers and smart devices like smart cameras and robot vacuum cleaners that are connected to the internet, Broadband Protect – a Singtel fibre broadband add-on – can be the first line of defence against online threats.

The greater the number of devices connected, the more potential entry points there are for hackers to exploit and carry out cybercrimes like installing malware, carrying out data and identity theft and creating botnets (see box story).

The Security Suite Triple Protect powered by McAfee, also a Singtel broadband and mobile add-on, provides around-the-clock monitoring of personal information, with early alerts if data is found as part of a breach.

A bank-grade VPN helps keep credit card and personal data safe at all times, while the website security feature warns against risky websites and prevents dangerous downloads and phishing attacks. The security software can secure up to 20 devices, including PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets.

A secure home network is an essential aspect of internet safety. The Singtel Broadband Protect add-on, which can connect to an unlimited number of devices, is the ultimate protection for your Wi-Fi and smart home devices against a botnet attack.

With its anti-malware and anti-phishing capabilities, it is also the first line of defence against such cyber attacks. As long as your smart device is connected to the network, it will be protected against external threats.

Finally, if you are out and about, avoid tapping into unsecured or free public Wi-Fi networks and stick to your mobile network – better yet if it’s a Singtel 5G mobile network.

For more information about Singtel's 3-Step Security Approach and Singtel Broadband Protect, visit

In partnership with Singtel

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.