On Wednesday, 27 April 2016, The Straits Times ran the article pictured above on Cyber Attacks. Read it HERE. I suggest that everyone read it for self-protection.
Bypassing the Do Not Call Registry
Ever since the Do Not Call Registry kicked in, companies have become very creative to get past those constraints. Some time back, during SG50, a communications company called S****** got in touch with me offering me and my tiny business free advertising. When I looked at the small print in the contract (and I always do) I realised that in return for some free advertising (whose effectiveness I had yet to assess), I was gonna have to give permission to 4 companies, S******, M********, D** and one other, blanket permission to text, call and email me for marketing purposes FOREVER and EVER!
There was not even a limited time period attached to it.
It did not take long for me to figure out that S****** and M******** would be calling, texting and emailing me on behalf of other companies. Basically, they would charge other companies to telemarket, email market and text market to me. The Do Not Call Register has just created a new revenue stream for media/communications companies.
I was told that since these were reputable companies, they would not spam me with calls/texts/emails. I decided to take that assurance with a large pinch of salt. After all, I used to get calls from banks touting credit cards about 3 times a week before the Do Not Call Register kicked in. So, I declined the freebie. I thought it was a bad deal. I get some free advertising and pay for it with a lifetime of irritation from unwelcome calls, texts and emails.
Friends who sign on to such schemes (with any company) find that soon enough, they keep getting calls from this company touting other companies' products. Since I have never ever signed on to any such scheme, I have been blissfully left undisturbed ever since the Do Not Call Registry came into effect.
Implications on Data Security
Later, I realised something. It has to do with data security. Media companies rely on not very skilled staff (often temporary) to call, text and market right? How do they ensure that these staff do not copy the data and then pass it on? Friends who went ahead to give their data in return for freebies often receive calls with frightening children's cries and disembodied voices demanding ransom to be paid for the return of kidnapped sons and daughters. How did these perpetrators know that these ladies had sons/daughters of that exact vulnerable age?
A Gift In Return For Your Personal Details
On another occasion, I was mesmerised by a vacuum lunchbox. It was given away free to ONLY Singaporeans. I was amazed that such a good quality and cool product was being given away free, until I realised that the Giver wanted me to fill out a form with my IC, phone number and other family details. No can do. I really liked the lunchbox but I did not want to be called, texted, emailed nor visited by this company selling water-based vacuum cleaners. Also, I thought that if this company thought my details worth only a lunchbox and the stack of forms was left lying about, then it wasn't going to keep my data very secure at all. So, I returned them the lunch box.
These days, I refrain even to fill out lucky draw coupons because I am not sure how secure the company would keep my data. People think that personal details are free. They are not. They can cost you dearly. Receiving irritating calls is the least of it. You open yourself up to criminal attack by people in China, Philippines and Nigeria...
I find it irritating that Facebook keeps asking me for my phone number and dubious people add me as Facebook friend after adding my friends as friends (so I think these are people I might know). Clearly these are people who are trying to snoop into my personal details on Facebook so that they can plan a cyber attack. I first add them as Friends, check them out, find nothing and immediately unfriend them.
Anyway, it really doesn't matter whether they are my Facebook friends or not because I have never trusted Facebook with my true personal details (not even my phone number). I lie on Facebook. The deepest, best and most meaningful friends I have almost NEVER interact with me on Facebook either so no one can know who are those closest to me. In some cases, we have never even added each other on Facebook. They trust Facebook even less than I do.
It is easier just to text and call. Facebook is for people I never see, and sometimes, have never met!
Such paranoia with personal details has kept me relatively immune from cyber attacks. I hope it is enough to keep me safe for a while more.