Pro­por­tion of cy­ber crimes in S’pore grow­ing

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SIN­GA­PORE — Cy­ber crimes nearly dou­bled in pro­por­tion be­tween 2014 and last year, ris­ing from 7.9 per cent to 13.7 per cent of all crimes, ac­cord­ing to the in­au­gu­ral Sin­ga­pore Cy­ber Land­scape re­port re­leased yes­ter­day.

The re­port by the Cy­ber Se­cu­rity Agency of Sin­ga­pore (CSA) found that more than eight in 10 cy­ber crimes (83 per cent) in­volved on­line cheat­ing. This was fol­lowed by unau­tho­rised ac­cess to com­puter ma­te­rial (15 per cent) and cy­ber ex­tor­tion (2 per cent).

The au­thor­i­ties re­ceived 19 re­ports of ran­somware cases from in­di­vid­u­als and small and medium en­ter­prises (SMEs) last year, up from two cases in 2015. The fig­ures could be un­der­re­ported as com­pa­nies are re­luc­tant to let their rep­u­ta­tion take a hit, noted the agency.

Other cy­ber threats in­cluded phish­ing and de­face­ments — 2,512 phish­ing URLs were de­tected and 1,750 web­sites were de­faced last year.

Sin­ga­pore’s high level of con­nec­tiv­ity comes with a cor­re­spond­ing level of vul­ner­a­bil­ity, said CSA chief ex­ec­u­tive David Koh.

“While ad­vances in dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy have opened up new pos­si­bil­i­ties to en­hance our lives, they have also ex­posed us to cy­ber threats that aim to cheat us, steal or al­ter our data, dis­rupt our daily busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties, and crip­ple our crit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture.”

Of­fences un­der the Com­puter Mis­use and Cy­ber­se­cu­rity Act soared over the past three years, from 197 cases in 2014 to 691 cases last year. Crim­i­nals tend to make use of ran­somware and hack­ing, as well as com­pro­mise on­line ac­counts, SingPass and In­ter­net bank­ing ac­counts.

Cy­ber crim­i­nals will con­tinue to adopt “more so­phis­ti­cated so­cial en­gi­neer­ing tech­niques to lure their vic­tims”, said the CSA.

Vic­tims of web­site de­face­ments tend to be SMEs. One in 10 de­faced web­sites were hosted on an out­dated op­er­at­ing sys­tem, such as Win­dows Server 2003. Web­sites for bank­ing and fi­nan­cial ser­vices were the most com­monly spoofed here, form­ing 31 per cent of phish­ing web­sites found last year.

Elec­tronic pay­ments plat­form PayPal and file-host­ing ser­vices such as Drop­box and Google Drive were pop­u­lar tar­gets, and gov­ern­ment bod­ies such as the Min­istry of Man­power and the Im­mi­gra­tion and Check­points Author­ity were not spared.

The CSA said at­tack­ers sought per­sonal data, such as pass­port num­bers, that could be traded in un­der­ground mar­kets.

The In­ter­net Surf­ing Sepa­ra­tion pol­icy, an­nounced in June last year, would help se­cure the in­fo­comm tech­nol­ogy en­vi­ron­ment for pub­lic agen­cies.

By cut­ting off In­ter­net ac­cess on work com­put­ers, cy­ber at­tack­ers will not be able to gain re­mote ac­cess to the Gov­ern­ment’s net­work and ex­tract data as eas­ily, said the CSA.

The re­port also stated that around two in five se­cu­rity in­ci­dents (43 per cent) that in­di­vid­u­als and SMEs flagged to the au­thor­i­ties in­volved phish­ing. Cy­ber crim­i­nals may at­tack SMEs as a means of get­ting to larger cor­po­ra­tions, said the CSA.

Busi­ness email scams were one of the top cy­ber threats that SMEs faced last year, with mil­lions of dol­lars lost through phish­ing scams, where hack­ers im­per­son­ated com­pany ex­ec­u­tives or busi­ness part­ners via email, said the agency.

Over 60 com­mand and con­trol servers were de­tected in Sin­ga­pore’s cy­ber space last year. Hack­ers use these servers to com­mu­ni­cate with mal­ware-in­fected de­vices and carry out ma­li­cious at­tacks such as data theft, email spam cam­paigns and DDoS (Dis­trib­uted De­nial of Ser­vice) at­tacks.

A DDoS at­tack in­volves flood­ing a sys­tem with data, caus­ing dis­rup­tion to busi­ness op­er­a­tions or dis­tract­ing vic­tims from on­go­ing cy­ber crimes.

Sin­ga­pore saw a spike in DDoS ex­tor­tion threats last year, with sev­eral un­named or­gan­i­sa­tions re­ceiv­ing emails from hack­ers de­mand­ing pay­ment in lieu of launch­ing such at­tacks. VA­LERIE KOH

Photo: REUtERS

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