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Online threats are becoming more frequent than physical threats. So much so that internet scams alone accounted for over 60% of the 25,593 reported crime cases in 2022, according to the mid-year crime statistics report by the Singapore Police Force (SPF).
As we become more heavily reliant on always-on, internet-enabled devices for work, study, and entertainment, it’s fair to assume that online threats will only increase and become more sophisticated over time.
We look at three common types of online threats that pose the biggest financial and non-financial risk to Singaporeans, as well as how to protect yourself against them.
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#1 Phishing Threats
Responsible for more than a fifth of the reported scams in 2022, phishing is the most widespread cyberattack we need to protect against. It’s also the most diverse threat, as it can take various forms.
According to global cybersecurity leader Palo Alto Networks, phishing is a form of social engineering where the hacker sends fraudulent communications through emails, SMS messages, social media, or phone calls that look like they are coming from a reputable source in an attempt to trick the user into downloading malware onto a device or forfeiting sensitive information.
Appealing to the victim’s emotions such as greed, fear, curiosity, and urgency, the hacker would attempt to get users to click on or download an attachment, which could be a malicious webpage, shell script, or even a Microsoft Office document containing a malicious macro. For instance, the Straits Times recently reported that a man in Singapore lost $149,000 in a matter of minutes after clicking on a phishing email that he believed was from the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE).
You can minimise such threats by educating yourself on the key ways to recognise phishing emails, such as checking the communication source, spotting poor grammar and spelling errors, and using unofficial or unknown apps.
#2 Ransomware Threats
Another threat that internet users in Singapore face is ransomware. According to the Singapore Cyber Landscape (SCL) 2021 publication, there was an increase of about 54%, or 137 cases, reported in 2021 from the 89 cases reported in 2020.
Ransomware attacks typically target valuable files, data, or information. It usually begins with the hacker tricking the user into opening an attachment or following a malicious link in their web browser. This would allow them to install malware and take control of the system. They would then encrypt certain files or deny access to the entire system until payment was received for the return of full access. This would be comparable to locking your most priceless and valuable possessions in a safe with the key held by another person. In most cases, there is no guarantee that the user, even with full payment, will receive the data without compromise.
Even the biggest companies can fall victim to such attacks. For example, one of the leading Internet Service Providers (ISPs), was a victim of a ransomware attack in 2021 when the personal data of about 129,000 of its customers was stolen because of a breach when using US-based Accellion’s file-sharing software. According to The Straits Times, the attackers demanded US$250,000 worth of bitcoin from Accellion.
Ransomware attacks come in many forms as well and can happen through different channels, such as the network, SaaS-based applications, and emails. It can be both costly and time-consuming, depending on the severity of the attack, which may require a full system reboot (and loss of data) or replacement of the device.
You can protect yourself against these attacks by first backing up your data externally, as cloud storage may still pose certain vulnerabilities for hacking attacks. You should also use strong passwords (or two-factor authentication) and make sure your operating systems and apps are always up-to-date to close any loopholes that hackers can exploit. Lastly, you should practice good cyber hygiene. Don’t click on suspicious links or download attachments from sources you don’t trust.
#3 System Attacks (Botnets)
Another common cyberattack is a Botnet attack. The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) detected about 4,800 botnet drones with Singapore IP addresses daily in 2021.
A botnet, short for robot network, refers to a network of computers infected by malware that are controlled by a single attacking entity without the device owner’s knowledge or consent to carry out criminal activities. These may include the theft of your personal information and the spreading of malware to other devices on the same network or the internet. Additionally, your system would run slower or crash due to the high amount of traffic being sent and received because of the botnet attack.
In 2019, well-known botnet attacks like “Emotet” targeted the financial services sector before spreading to other industries like manufacturing, media, aviation, and healthcare, causing heavy financial losses and data breaches.
You can protect yourself against such attacks by keeping your devices and software up-to-date with the latest security patches, using strong passwords and two-factor authentication, implementing network security measures like firewalls and intrusion detection systems, and generally adopting good cyber hygiene.
Surf The Internet Confidently, On A Secured Broadband Network
Just knowing about the risks that each cyberthreat like Spyware, System Vulnerabilities, Scan Attacks, Cryptominer, Info-leak, Botnet, and ELF pose isn’t sufficient; it’s also important to be able to detect and neutralise these threats, especially as we may have more devices and users connected to the internet, including the elderly and children who might be more susceptible to such attacks.
Customers of ViewQwest’s broadband services can enjoy a more safe and secure surfing experience by signing up for SecureNet, an add-on built-in internet security service powered by Palo Alto Networks, a global cybersecurity leader.
SecureNet acts as the first line of defence by scanning and blocking up to 95% of known and unknown cyberthreats without the need for additional software.
What Is SecureNet (And How It Protects You)
Unlike the typical software-based security suite, SecureNet protects an unlimited number of Internet of Things (IOT) devices connected to the home network 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without you having to worry about things like software updates, hosting, and other tasks. This makes it simple for everyone in the household—young and old, with varying tech knowledge—to be protected when using any smart device. Its Next-Generation Firewalls and Wildfire analysis detect known and evolving threats in real-time, protecting your home network from unauthorised access. The web filtering feature also blocks access to malicious websites that deliver malware, steal credentials, or expose users to criminal activity.
You will also get two security reports weekly: the Threat Log Report, which will highlight the threats that were actively detected and thwarted, and the Top Blocked Websites Report, which will reveal the phishing websites and other suspected malicious websites, giving you better insights into your online activity.
Customise Your Security Protection Level
Users of ViewQwest’s SecureNet can choose between three types of security postures. At the basic level, you can select the Essential setting. This helps keep common threats out and might be suitable for the more discerning internet users who are able to understand the potential risks of installing unsecured software on their devices.
The next setting is Enhanced, which provides further protection and blocks undesirable sites such as those containing pornography, gambling, or drugs. This setting could be suitable for families with young children who wish to have greater control over their children’s online activity.
Lastly, users also have the option of a Max setting for broader home internet security coverage. Users dealing with highly sensitive work or those who simply want the best cybersecurity coverage could opt for this protection level.
ViewQwest Offers A Fast And Secure Home Broadband Service
In addition to a more secured internet network, ViewQwest also offers one of the fastest and most stable broadband services. It has been ranked as the fastest Internet Service Provider (ISP) in Singapore by Ookla for Fixed Broadband for 5 consecutive years since 2018.
Also, when you sign up today for either of ViewQwest’s 1Gbps or 2Gbps broadband plans, you get a free 3-month subscription to SecureNet (worth $23.97). Alternatively, you can subscribe to SecureNet as an add-on service for just $7.99 per month. Check out ViewQwest’s broadband plans for a faster and more secure internet surfing experience.
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