Singapore to step up security measures in aftermath of phishing scams

Singapore is stepping up security measures to bolster the local banking and communications infrastructures, which include the need for SMS service providers to check against a registry before sending through messages. Bank also are expected to develop “more versatile” artificial intelligence (AI) models to detect suspicious transactions. 

The additional safeguards come in the heels of a recent spate of SMS phishing scams, which wiped out SG$13.7 million ($10.17 million) from the accounts of 790 OCBC Bank customers. Scammers had manipulated SMS Sender ID details to push out messages that appeared to be from OCBC, urging the victims to resolve issues with their bank accounts. They then were redirected to phishing websites and instructed to key in their bank login details, including username, PIN, and One-Time Password (OTP).  

Describing the incident as the country’s most serious phishing scam involving spoofed SMSes impersonating banks, Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong said various steps would be taken to better mitigate the risks of such scams. These would span the entire ecosystem, including banks, telecommunications, law enforcement, and consumer education, Wong said Tuesday during his ministerial statement in parliament. The minister also is deputy chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). 


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