1 in 5 here hit by cyber crime

One-fifth of the population here were hit by cyber crimes last year, suffering financial losses amounting to nearly US$870 million (S$1.1 billion), suggested an inaugural study on the cost of such crimes by Web security company Symantec.The losses, affecting more than 1.2 million people here, resulted from both the crimes and efforts to resolve them, according to the company’s Norton Cybercrime Report 2011.

Overall, 80 per cent of Singaporean adults have fallen prey to cyber crime, the most common of which are computer viruses, malware and threats by sexual predators.

One emerging trend is the surfacing of cyber crimes via mobile devices. With the blazing hot popularity of smartphones in Singapore, 20 per cent here got hit by cyber crime on their mobiles, above the global rate of 10 per cent.

The study also noted that men between 18 and 31 years old tend to be more susceptible, as they access pornography.

These weighted results were derived from an online survey of a sample of 500 Singaporean respondents – leading some analysts to comment that the situation may not be as dire as the study suggested.

Mr Edison Yu, of research firm Frost & Sullivan, pointed out that the estimated financial losses seem “relatively inflated”, as the way damages were calculated is unclear.

He questioned if the losses were based on the respondents’ own knowledge.

According to Symantec, respondents were directly asked about their financial losses due to such criminal activity over the past one year.

Mr Yu added that the method used to collate the surveys – online – may also skew the sample towards people who use the Internet more, suggesting it may not be representative of the entire population.

While he believes that cyber crime is definitely on the rise, he cautioned that “greater clarity” should be used to define the term, and questioned if it is fair to “label all cyber attacks as cyber crimes”.

Analysts, however, generally agreed that cyber crime will continue to rise over the next few years, with more cyber criminals targeting mobile devices.

Mr Ang Poon Wei, of research firm IDC, said this is due to the trend of a “mobile workforce”, and also as “more people become increasingly reliant on their mobile devices for everyday activities, such as banking, emails, and even accessing social networking sites”.

– Today Online