Like the rest of the world, the Asia-Pacific region has seen an uptick of online scams and fraud in recent years. Luckily, however, the public's awareness of scams has increased as well. Compared to the year before, there were over 90% more searches related to “scams” on Google in 2023.
As the internet and smartphones have become integrated into our daily lives, they’ve also become pivotal gateways to our personal data — whether it’s our banking information, shopping accounts or health statistics. Scammers apply a variety of deceptive tactics across an always-expanding range of channels like fraudulent messages, alluring offers, impersonation and more.
At Google, we focus on technology with built-in security measures: a secure-by-default approach. For example, our AI-enabled spam and abuse filters on Gmail and Google Search help block the vast majority of suspicious emails and spam sites before they ever reach you.
Beyond product design against scams, we recognize that creating a safer Internet for everyone is a collective effort. The rise in scamming incidents shows that we need to reinforce digital literacy — particularly among those most vulnerable.
Here are a few ways we’ve been collaborating with policymakers, NGOs and community partners on online safety initiatives these past 12 months in Asia-Pacific.
Online safety education
In India, we launched the DigiKavach program to combat online financial fraud at scale by analyzing scammer tactics and collaborating with industry experts, like the Fintech Association for Consumer Empowerment. Meanwhile, Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, supported the CyberPeace Foundation with a new grant of US$ 4 million for a four-year nationwide awareness-building program and a multilingual digital resource hub, which will help nearly 40 million underserved individuals learn about and protect themselves against misinformation.
In Singapore, we supported Project PRAISE: an initiative with RSVP Singapore: The Organisation of Senior Volunteers and the Singapore Police Force. This project trains volunteers to raise awareness of scams among seniors — a population particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks — through a series of workshops.
And in Hong Kong, we supported the Be a Smarter Digital Citizen program run by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service to improve students’ digital literacy and online safety awareness. We shared practical tips for securing online accounts: 2-step verification, safer search experiences with SafeSearch and Safe Browsing, AI-enabled anti-phishing features across Gmail and Chrome, and more.
Over in Thailand, we worked with the Bank of Thailand and the Thailand Banking Sector Computer Emergency Response Team (TB-CERT) under the Thai Bankers Association to launch the #31days31tips online safety campaign. This campaign shared daily safety pointers to help Thai people better secure their online accounts, spot financial scams and keep their private information safe.
Skilling efforts to help the most vulnerable
Over the past five years, Google.org has supported 26 social impact organizations in Asia-Pacific with over US$35 million in grants. These grants have helped train vulnerable people to stay safer online, tackle misinformation and enhance cyber-resilience for organizations.
As part of this ongoing effort, we announced a US$15 million grant last October to support The Asia Foundation in launching the APAC Cybersecurity Fund in partnership with CyberPeace Institute and Global Cyber Alliance. This fund aims to bolster cyber-capabilities of 300,000 underserved micro and small businesses, nonprofits and social enterprises across 13 locations in the region.
Starting this February, The Asia Foundation will also work with Asosiasi PPSW, Perkumpulan Untuk Peningkatan Usaha Kecil (PUPUK) and Muhammadiyah Economic and Entrepreneurship Council in Indonesia with the goal to reach 70,000 micro and small enterprises. In India, multiple partners (like Foundation for MSME Clusters) will support 45,000 underserved organizations — 50% of which are owned by women — to receive training on understanding cyber-risks and protecting business data. In Pakistan, Beaconhouse National University will pilot a cyber-clinic to train university students who will then help 250 at-risk organizations better defend themselves from cyberattacks.