Why It Matters

Staying ahead of cyber crooks

The last decade has seen a dramatic shift in the nature of crime, with the number of cases committed in cyberspace growing rapidly.

This has forced law enforcement agencies around the world to relook their strategies, as their targets are now faceless threats with the potential to cause large-scale damage within a short space of time.

The National Cybercrime Action Plan, unveiled on Wednesday by Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam, unites Singapore's ongoing and future efforts to fight cybercrime.

As Singapore is one of the most connected cities in the world, with close to nine in 10 households here wired to the Internet in 2014, this concerted effort by the Government sends a strong message that the country will stop cyber criminals on all fronts.

The move is in tandem with what many other countries are doing, Mr Shanmugam said.

Britain embarked on its Cyber Security Strategy in 2011 and the United States introduced its Cybersecurity National Action Plan in February.

But beyond updating the capabilities of government agencies and ensuring that laws here have more teeth to tackle crime in the digital age, Singapore will also need to ensure that citizens are well-equipped to take care of themselves online.

Falling prey to cybercrime can be a costly lesson. Last year, a report by security firm Norton revealed that cybercrime victims in Singapore lost an average of $545 each that year, higher than the global average of $520.

The work plan has rightfully recognised that "prevention is key", in particular, the need to raise awareness among individuals and businesses to adopt safeguards against malware and scams.

Efforts will be made to ensure that these messages will resonate with vulnerable members of society, such as the elderly and children, as well.

While Singapore is headed in the right direction, the arsenal of cyber criminals worldwide is evolving faster than ever and the real battle for any country is to be one step ahead.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2016, with the headline 'Staying ahead of cyber crooks'. Print Edition | Subscribe