According to the Singapore Police Force, a crime is committed on the streets of Singapore every 15 minutes. While this scenario may be alarming, it is actually safer than the Internet. The Norton Cybercrime Report 2012 found that there is an average of three cyber crime victims every minute in Singapore - or 45 such crimes in the same span of 15 minutes. That's over 3800 victims a day, and a total of 1.4 million victims every year falling prey to cyber criminals. This makes cyber crime, and in particular online identity fraud, a very real threat to Singaporeans.
What's really at stake?
In Singapore, this threat is particularly real with the strong growth in demand for mobile devices and their myriad of applications that consumers use to stay connected in their everyday lives. Two out of three Singaporeans access the Internet via their mobile devices, and gone are the days where we only had limited access to the Internet and simple voice communications. Our Internet-enabled devices and new technologies available on our smartphones have become indispensable to most of us.
More so than ever, our mobile phones and devices are our lifelines. They serve as our phonebook, photo album, mobile wallet and often store large amounts of personal and commercial data in addition to sensitive financial information. Every time we give away personal information online, we could unknowingly leave key traces of our identity across the Internet, potentially giving cyber criminals easy access to our private lives.
Coupled with our increasing digital appetite and reliance on mobile connectivity, we are facing new digital dangers and an even greater need for consumers to be protected from the very real and evolving threat of identity fraud.
Here are some of the ways identity fraud is advancing with new technology and platforms:
- Social networking inadvertently creates new opportunities for identity fraud. Based on the nature of social networking, consumers may be sharing too much personal information on these sites, without using the necessary security settings to keep scammers from viewing their personal information. Consumers can also click links that lead to websites which infect their computers with malware and viruses. According to the Norton Cybercrime Report 2012, 12 percent of social network users in Singapore reported that someone had hacked into their profile and pretended to be them. Twelve percent also said they had fallen victim to a scam or fake link on social network platforms - two percent higher than the global average.
- Mobile technology such as smartphones and tablets make it easier for identity thieves to steal personal information from consumers. The report also found that nearly one-third of mobile users in Singapore (comparable with the global average) received a text message from someone they did not know, requesting that they click on an embedded link or dial an unknown number to retrieve a "voicemail".
- Data breaches, as seen in several recent high-profile data breaches where the personal information of hundreds of millions of consumers have be stolen by hackers, can also drive identity fraud.
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