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Malicious hackers target Singapore-based company via phishing e-mails

09 Apr 2019


A workplace design consultancy based here became the target of malicious cyber attackers last year.

Space Matrix's chief executive officer Arsh Chaudhry told The New Paper that the company's chief finance officer received an e-mail in April last year in a phishing attempt.

"The e-mail address looked like it was from me, and even the way it was written was very similar to how I would write an e-mail," he said.

"It said to transfer $200,000 to an account, but thankfully the employees realised it wasn't me and they didn't go ahead with the transaction."

The company then lodged a police report.

But the same thing happened again less than a week later.

Mr Chaudhry said: "This time, they sent it to others in the department, targeting specific people who had access (to the accounts).

"It was a very intelligent way to undertake an attack."

While employees did not fall for the second attempt either, he quickly realised that a single misstep by any employee would be disastrous for the company.

Last Friday, Senior Minister of State for Defence Maliki Osman mentioned the case of Space Matrix during the Ministry of Defence Committee of Supply debate.

He was introducing the new digital defence pillar as part of the Total Defence movement, and said Singapore would be able to defend itself against cyber attacks only if everyone plays their part.

"We want to bring across the message that every individual is at the forefront of digital defence, and this is not a cliche," he said.

"Only if everyone plays a part - the Government, businesses, communities and individuals - can we make digital defence a part of Singapore's DNA, and keep our defence total."

Mr Chaudhry said Space Matrix has since implemented robust cyber security plans and beefed up its e-mail systems to ensure such incidents do not happen again.

"We've done a lot over the past one year or so, with software that scans all our e-mails prior, setting up secure firewalls," he said.

But he said that changing the mindsets of people is the most important aspect of digital defence.

"You can have all the best software, but employees will still have to do their part," said Mr Chaudhry.

"In Singapore, we have to inculcate the mindset that cyberthreats are real.

"We need to make more people aware so they are not complacent and we don't take things for granted."

Source:  The Newpaper Singapore

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