SINGAPORE: The Singapore Island Country Club (SICC) said its online booking system for golf sessions had been “compromised”, with some members’ accounts using bots or scripted programmes to secure popular time slots. 

The system receives “millions” of booking attempts each day from automated bots and scripted programmes, it added.

“The club has discovered that the booking system had been compromised on several occasions to pre-book flights before booking opened,” said SICC in a notice to members on Thursday (Sep 10) that was seen by CNA.

“These incidents (akin to ‘hacking’) may constitute a possible breach of the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act,” it said, adding that police reports have been made. 

The club said it looked into the matter after members noted that they were unable to secure golf flights which were snapped up “within minutes”. At the start of each online booking time, there were more than 2,000 booking attempts, it said.

SICC found that more than 50 per cent of online golf bookings were completed within seconds after booking opens, with the fastest being completed in two seconds. 

“It is impossible for humans to complete the booking process ie, select tee times, and input all golfers’ names and membership IDs within a short duration. The club has ascertained that certain members’ accounts had used automated bots or scripted programmes to gain advantage in securing popular tee times,” said SICC.

“As a precautionary measure, these members’ accounts have been suspended pending further investigation.”

SICC said no personal data has been compromised, and that it is working with its vendor to strengthen the system. 

In the meantime, the club has implemented measures such as allowing members to book a tee time using only one active booking session at any one time. Previously members were able to have multiple booking sessions.

To prevent the use of automated bots or scripted programmes, SICC said it will soon implement the CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing Test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) verification process, which includes an additional step at the start of the active golf booking session.

In response to queries from CNA, the police confirmed that a report was lodged and that investigations are ongoing.