Recent SingHealth security breach shows that cybersecurity is more important than ever

It’s every system administrator’s worst nightmare.

1.5 million patients had their non-medical records – including name, NRIC, address and date of birth – illegally accessed and copied in the cyberattack that took place in June 2018. Out of this, about 160,000 patients had their medicine records stolen.

Following what was deemed by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Communications and Information to be the “most serious breach of personal data” in Singapore’s history, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) instructed all financial institutions to tighten their customer verification process.

Here are reasons why cybersecurity is more important than ever –

Mobile payments

Mobile payments have already changed customer interactions, and it has only increased user convenience but also, highlighted new monetisation opportunities and impact of customised targeting, improved customer service and increased customer loyalty. All of these hinge on one crucial and sensitive subject – personal data.

Machine learning and big data

The combination of machine learning and big data has huge promise in fintech and thus, the increase in the number of fintech start-ups. Machine learning plays a key role in cybersecurity – techniques used to ensure cybersecurity might be based on machine learning while at the same, heavy reliance of machine learning can make it harder for developers to understand its behaviours and the associated security weaknesses. When developers are building platforms that are based on machine learning, they should pay attention to how machine learning solutions can mask or create cybersecurity vulnerabilities down the road.

People are being more liberal in giving out personal data

People are getting increasingly comfortable in giving out their information online. Just think about how many websites hold your credit card details – every you buy anything online, you’re exposing your credit card details. Considering how many cyberattacks are occurring, this should be quite alarming to you. We’re not deterring you from performing transactions online because that is just not possible today. However, do be aware that not everyone practices safe online care of their data.

As technology continues to evolve, people will have to learn how to use it safely and efficiently. Financial institutions are going to keep a tight rope on security. On one hand, financial institutions can better customer service but there is also the risk of overexposing personal data and losing the trust of customers. They need to make sure to do their due diligence to ensure that their reputation of security and trust does not get tarnished.


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