By Chua Hian Hou
BY THE middle of next year, primary school pupils here will have a website to visit to be clued in on the dangers lurking online.
Modelled after the Road Safety Community Park in the East Coast which welcomes groups of students for road-safety lessons in a scaled-down road network, the Virtual Cyber Security Park will show today's increasingly wired children how their seemingly innocuous actions on the Web can come back to haunt them.
The online park will use 3-D technology to re-create scenarios young ones encounter while online, from creating social networking profiles to playing online games.
The cyber park, now being developed, is among government measures unveiled yesterday aimed at beefing up cyber security here.
Besides warning the young ones against falling prey to sexual predators, spammers and hackers, the Government will require Internet service providers here to be audited for responsiveness to cyber attacks; it will also take steps to protect its websites from hackers.
All these additions to Singapore's Infocomm Security Masterplan 2 were announced by Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Lui Tuck Yew, who was at the second Information Security Seminar held at Suntec Convention Centre yesterday.
Addressing the 400 participants at the event, he said: 'Everyone is connected and contactable. But the more connected we are in cyberspace, the greater the emphasis we need to place on security measures to protect ourselves - from malicious attacks, identity theft to cyber fraud.'
The $70 million masterplan announced in 2008 provided for the creation of a professional body to oversee the standards of security education; a private-sector group was also set up to raise awareness of cyber issues here among community groups ranging from students to small businesses.
Civil Service head Peter Ho, who also addressed conference participants, described the security landscape as being in a constant flux. It is why existing cyber defences have to be continually refined and added to in this 'war without end', he said.
Among industry observers who called the initiatives timely was Member of Parliament Jessica Tan, who said that many young people, excited about going online, are not aware of its pitfalls.
Information they reveal about themselves, for instance, easily enable marketers to cobble accurate profiles of them and spam them, said Ms Tan, the managing director of Microsoft Singapore.
Research backs her up: Last year, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers found they could predict with 78 per cent accuracy the sexual orientation of students from an analysis of their Facebook profiles.
Ms Tan said soft-selling the lessons in a fun package the way the cyber park aims to do could well be more effective than conventional classroom lessons.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.