Lock your cyber doors

Chances are, you would not leave the front door to your house unlocked.

Yet, thousands of Singaporeans are doing the cyber equivalent of just that daily by sharing their passwords and leaving mobile devices unprotected.

A fifth of Singaporeans share their passwords, a cybercrime report released on Tuesdaysaid. Most passwords shared were to e-mail accounts but some were for social media and bank accounts as well.

The report's study of 1,009 Singaporeans also found that nearly a quarter do not password-protect their devices. This, said Mr John Bai, cyber security firm Symantec's director of security response in Asia, is akin to "leaving your home open to everyone, not just your neighbours".

A big irony is that Singaporeans actually know this. The Norton Cyber Security Insights Report found that 80 per cent of respondents worried about falling victim to cybercrime.Over half felt that identity theft is now more likely than ever, and most thought sharing e-mail passwords with a friend was riskier than lending them their car.

Cybercrime - which includes credit card fraud, stolen identities and hacked accounts - is growing here. More devices are linked to the Internet. Social media networks, cloud computing and smartphones are ubiquitous. And the bad guys are becoming better resourced and harder to track down.

The Republic is a target due to its high connectivity and wealth. One expert described it as "a pot of gold" to cyber criminals.

It is high time we protect ourselves. Use passwords, make them complex, change them regularly and do not share them.

When travelling overseas, deactivate the magnetic stripes on credit cards to prevent cloning, and think twice before sharing your account information with e-commerce sites.

The threat is real. And yes, you could very well be the next victim. So, at the very least, deter cyber criminals by locking those doors.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2015, with the headline 'Lock your cyber doors'. Print Edition | Subscribe