Cybercrime victims here 'lost $545 on average'

Posed photo of a person using a laptop.
Posed photo of a person using a laptop. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER FILE

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$510). It was US$483.74 in China and US$261 in Australia.

The Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report, done by security firm Norton, compiled online responses from 1,009 people here aged 18 and older who own at least one mobile device. It found that one in five of them had been a victim of online crime and the average time lost dealing with the impact was 20 hours.

Although 80 per cent of them worry about falling victim to cybercrime and think it is risky to share e-mail passwords, many do not password-protect their devices and instead 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 person. 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 of their online security.

Cybercrime, said experts, covers a range of attacks. One example is when the data on magnetic stripes on credit and debit cards is extracted and used to clone cards. Another is when a victim unknowingly downloads a Trojan horse virus, which allows a hacker to steal private data.

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

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

Mr Gavin Lowth, Norton's vice- president of consumer and small business in the Asia-Pacific and Japan, said: "I think awareness in Singapore around how much data is out there and consumer vulnerability is increasing. But our findings show the threat of cybercrime has not led to widespread adoption of simple protection measures people should take to safeguard their information online."

The 45-year-old Singapore permanent resident became a target himself in the wee hours 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 six minutes. "You can never fully mitigate an event like this, but there are ways to minimise your risk," he said.

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 in suspicious e-mail.

But teacher Jessie Liau, 61, who does not have a password on her cellphone, said: "My 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."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2015, with the headline 'Cybercrime victims here 'lost $545 on average''. Print Edition | Subscribe