Cybersecurity & the new Social Studies Syllabus

According to the GCE O-Level Syllabuses Examined in 2017 on the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board site, Combined Humanities (Syllabus Code 2204), is denoted with:

‘Last year of exam in 2017’.

‘May be offered to repeat school candidates from 5N in 2018’

Hmmm, quite some changes… the new Combined Humanities (Syllabus Code 2267) does not have an essay? It is replaced by ‘One structured-response question testing Assessment Objectives 1 and 3’. Is this something akin to what they do in Hong Kong with their Liberal Studies?

Well terrorism as a topic is still there though it is parked under Globalisation. A related subset, the cyber security element coincides with the setting up of the Cyber Security Agency at the beginning of this year. There is a risk of hacking on telecommunications; company purchasing and payments even in the manufacturing sector. Going by the recent hacking executed by Islamic State inspired personnel, the risk is quite plausible…Especially in light of the recent attack on the New Jersey Transit Police Department where they took information about its officers from an ‘outside vendor.’

On another note, this touches on the tension between privacy and security. As of Mar 2016, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation were still on the path to gain entry to the mobile phones of perpetrators of the mass killings in San Bernardino (California) on 2 Dec 2015. According to the Washington Post <Resistance to accessing terrorist’s phone grows> from the Business Times Weekend (5-6 Mar 2016, Singapore), Google, Facebook and Apple are against any decrease in iPhone password encryption. The long term fear is the eventual legal judgment here could lead to an avalanche of uncontrolled privacy intrusion by the authorities.

Perhaps the way forward is to allow access only on those specific phones?


Melanie Burney. (29 Mar 2016). ISIS hackers target NJ Transit police. Philadelphia Media Network (Digital), LLC.

[…reports to the Prime Minister’s Office…

Engagement and outreach – Nurturing ties with … industry and thought leaders, heightening cyber security awareness through public outreach programmes, and promoting security-by-design

Industry development – …robust cyber security ecosystem, i.e. a vibrant industry … the manpower to respond … mitigate cyber attacks

Protecting critical sectors – … such as energy, water, and banking

Operations – … coordination and deployment … to cyber threats] Cyber Security Agency of Singapore. (3 Sep 2015). Our organisation.

Loke Kok Fai. (1 Jan 2016). Cyber Security Agency looking to strengthen online security in every sector. Channel Newsasia.

[The company says it has shut down 125,000 accounts primarily related to the terrorist group.] Krishnadev Calamur. (5 Feb 2016). Twitter’s New ISIS Policy. The Atlantic Monthly Group.

Anthony Cuthbertson. (3 Jan 2016). ISIS hackers target the wrong Google. Newsweek.


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