S'pore a rich target for cybercriminals

Falling prey to cybercrime is expensive here, says a global cybercrime report released yesterday.

Victims here lost an average of $545 each in the past year, higher than the global average of US$358 (S$507). It was US$483.74 in China and US$261 in Australia.

The Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report was done by security firm Norton and compiled online responses from 1,009 adults here aged 18 and older who own at least one mobile device.

It also found that one in five of them had been victims of online crime, and that the average time lost dealing with the impact was 20 hours.

Although 80 per cent of those surveyed worry about falling victim and think it is risky to share their e-mail password, many do not password-protect their devices and also share their e-mail passwords.

The survey, done between Aug 25 and Sept 18, found that a fifth of them share their passwords with at least one other. It also found that nearly a quarter do not have a password on any device they own.

The broader global survey, of 17,125 people, found that 81 per cent would be "devastated" if their bank and credit card details were compromised, and only 15 per cent felt fully in control over their online security.

Cybercrime, said experts, cover a range of attacks. One is when the data on magnetic stripes on credit and debit cards, is extracted and used to clone cards.

Another example is when a victim unknowingly downloads a Trojan horse virus, which then allows a hacker to steal private data.

Data can also be extracted from a lost or stolen mobile device.

Latest police statistics show that cheating cases involving e-commerce have more than tripled, from 510 cases in 2013 to 1,659 last year.

Gavin Lowth, Norton's vice-president of consumer and small business in Asia Pacific and Japan, said: "I think that awareness in Singapore around how much data is out there and consumer vulnerability is increasing.

"But our findings show that the threat of cybercrime hasn't led to widespread adoption of simple protection measures people should take to safeguard their information online."

He added that losses here could be greater, given Singapore's relative wealth in the region. "If you were a cybercriminal you would probably go where the money is, find the biggest pot of gold," he said.

The 45-year-old Singapore permanent resident became a target himself in the wee hours of the morning yesterday, when he received several text messages with one-time password activation codes to complete transactions he did not make.

A call to his bank revealed that someone had tried to use his credit card to make US$12,000 worth of purchases in 30 transactions in a span of six minutes.

He said: "I didn't get to sleep until 3am worrying about it. You can never fully mitigate an event like this, but there are ways to minimise your risk."

His advice: Always monitor financial accounts for unusual activity, use a unique password for all accounts online, change passwords regularly and do not click on attachments or links on suspicious e-mails.

But teacher Jessie Liau, 61, is not convinced. She does not have a password on her mobile phone.

She said: "My (mobile phone) is always with me and I use it all the time. It is quite troublesome to keep typing in the password each time.

"This has worked for me for so many years and I haven't been a victim. So I don't think I will change anything."


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