News06 Dec 2017

Singapore:Cybercrime cases on the rise

06 Dec 2017

The number of cybercrime cases has surged in Singapore. Computer misuse and cybersecurity cases jumped from 280 in 2015 to 758 in 2016, said a Straits Times report.

According to police data, 1H2017 saw 366 such cases, a 46.4% rise in from the 250 reported for the same period last year. Syndicates and individuals have been resorting to methods ranging from unauthorized access to company servers, to the hacking of online banking accounts.

Cybercrime losses rise in value

One notable scam was syndicates leading victims to believe that they were involved in sending illegal items, with one mastermind sentenced to 8 ½ years jail for the scam involving S$983,000 (US$729,000), the longest sentence to date involving the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act.

Police figures also showed that between January to June 2017, S$22.1 million was lost to Internet love scams, almost twice the $11.2 million for 1H 2016. Meanwhile, email impersonation scams in the same period accounted for S$21.0 million lost, up from last year’s $17.4 million, said the ST report.

Crimes shifting online

Police Superintendent Soo Lai Choon, who heads the technology crime investigation branch, said that the rise in prevalence of the Internet means crime is increasingly being shifted online, with prostitution, gambling and extortion some examples of crimes which have moved from the physical world to cyberspace. This is consistent with international trends, he noted.

Other common cyber threats here are ransomware, phishing and impersonation scams. Working with an alliance formed earlier this year with partners including banks and telecoms service providers, the police were able to stop some money transfers in impersonation scams. Last month, Supt Soo’s team convicted Singapore’s first Dark Web-related crime, in which a man went on a shopping spree after buying stolen credit and debit card details and PayPal login credentials on the restricted Internet. He also bought software intended to wipe his laptop’s memory once he switched it off on the Dark Web.

Supt Soo advised victims of cyber crimes to report them as quickly as possible as digital evidence can be erased easily. To investigate cybercrimes, police typically trace the IP addresses of criminals to find out the devices’ physical locations and who accessed them. The borderless nature of such crimes requires them to work with both local and overseas partners, said the ST report.

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