Children's clicks make 3 in 10 Singapore computing devices open to hackers: Norton survey

Children learning to write computer code at the Apple store in Manhattan, New York, on Dec 9, 2015.
Children learning to write computer code at the Apple store in Manhattan, New York, on Dec 9, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Children's trusting behaviour online has made their parents vulnerable to hackers, with three in 10 computing devices in Singapore compromised in this way, according to the latest survey findings by security technology firm Norton.

Very often, children download viruses to their own or family computer, click on a link in a text message or share their password with someone who then abuses it, the survey revealed.

The Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report, released on Wednesday (March 2), polled more than 17,000 Internet users above 18 years old across 17 countries, including about 1,000 people in Singapore.

Children here have also been duped into responding to online scams or a phishing message, thinking that they are legitimate.

"Children are becoming increasingly comfortable with technology devices like smartphones or tablets, and parents must be proactive in educating their children on online safety," said Mr Gavin Lowth, Norton vice-president for consumer and small business in Asia-Pacific and Japan.

"Protecting children online is weighing heavier on parents than ever before as cyberbullying, online predators and privacy are now real world concerns."

The findings come amid rising online crime in Singapore.

Last year, the number of online crime cases involving e-commerce, credit-for-sex and Internet love scams almost doubled to 3,759, from 1,929 cases in 2014, according to police statistics.

In February, Mr David Chew, director of the Commercial Affairs Department of the Singapore Police Force, said that Singapore is a target because "we have a wonderful infrastructure for the Internet".

Despite the high online crime incidents, the majority of parents here do not frequently take action to protect their children's cyber safety.

For instance, more than three in five parents do not frequently supervise their children's Internet access. Neither do they regularly limit access to certain websites or restrict the amount of information children are allowed to post on social media, the Norton survey revealed.

More alarmingly, about one in five parents take no precautions.