S'pore cybercrime victims 'face highest losses'

Victims of cybercrime in Singapore suffered the highest losses per capita worldwide in the past 12 months, according to an annual global cybercrime report, and this could partly be due to the high cost of living here.

The 2013 Norton Report released this week found that the average direct cost for each victim here was US$1,158 (S$1,445) - the highest country average of the 24 nations surveyed, and almost four times the global average of US$298.

It was also almost double the average cost for each victim in Singapore last year, at US$657.

The cost of cybercrime is based on self-reported consumer experiences and actual financial losses, including any amounts lost mainly due to fraud, repairs and theft.

"Singapore has a very high cost of living. When a cybercrime victim must spend money to recover - be it from purchasing a new computer or engaging computer technicians - it will likely be more expensive," said Ms Marian Merritt, the Internet-safety advocate from American security software company Symantec, which released the report.

"It's clear from the data that cybercriminals profit by targeting Singaporeans and it is likely this is why we see them continuing with their attacks in Singapore year after year," she told The Straits Times, in response to queries.

Symantec attributed its findings in part to greater sophistication by cybercriminals and poor mobile security - nearly half of the people here do not take basic precautions such as using passwords or having security software.

As of December last year, there were three mobile subscriptions for every two people in Singapore, and the high penetration rate of consumers with smart devices here means easier targets for attackers, said Mr Bryce Boland, chief technology officer for the Asia Pacific at FireEye, a global network security company. "Malware could be found in fake mobile applications that contain malicious code," said Mr Boland.

On the upside, the rate of cybercrime hits in Singapore has fallen, according to the survey, with 37 per cent of adult online users affected this year, down from 48 per cent last year.

Cybercrime is a growing menace globally, with the total global direct cost rising from US$110 billion last year to US$113 billion this year, the survey showed.


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