According to the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), cybercrime such as ransomware and online scams accounted for 43% of all crime in Singapore last year in 2020.
CSA’s SingCERT (Singapore Computer Emergency Response Team) handled more than 9,000 cases last year, compared to nearly 8,500 cases reported in 2019 and 4,977 cases in 2018, respectively, according to new figures in CSA’s Singapore Cyber Landscape (SCL) 2020 report. “This trend is attributed to the rapid growth of e-commerce, the proliferation of community marketplace platforms and social media platforms as Singaporeans carried out more online transactions due to COVID-19,” said CSA.
More online threats linked to COVID-19
The agency said that throughout 2020 it observed that global threat actors had capitalised on the anxiety and fear wrought by the pandemic, with repercussions felt by individuals and businesses. These threat actors targeted areas such as e-commerce, data security, vaccine-related research and operations, as well as contact tracing operations. Some of the observed global threat actor trends were mirrored locally, CSA said, with a surge in ransomware incidents and the emergence of COVID-19-related phishing activities seen in the region, the latter of which unsurprisingly coincided with the rise of work-from-home (WFH) arrangements.
“Globally, 2020 saw a surge in COVID-19-related phishing campaigns,” CSA said. “In Singapore, the overall volume of malicious phishing URLs remained comparable to the figures seen in 2019.
“COVID-19 themes very likely accounted for over 4,700 malicious URLs spoofing local entities and services that were in greater demand during Singapore’s circuit breaker period, which included online retail and payment portals,” the agency added.
Upcoming Cyber Security Trends
As the cyber landscape becomes “increasingly complex and dynamic,” the CSA cautioned against three emerging cybersecurity trends: ransomware, the targeting of a remote workforce, and increased targeting of supply chains.
“Ransomware has evolved into a massive and systemic threat, and is no longer restricted to the sporadic and isolated incidents observed,” said CSA.
It added that the recent global spate of high-profile ransomware incidents affecting essential service providers and key firms showed that the attacks could “cause real-world effects and harm, and may have the potential to become national security concerns”.
“The proliferation of such attacks spells an urgency for businesses to review their cybersecurity posture and ensure that they build their systems to be resilient in recovering from any successful cyberattack.”
As remote working became more common during the pandemic, poorly configured network and software systems have “widened the attack surface” and put organisations at greater risk of cyberattacks, added CSA.
Supply chain breaches are also becoming more sophisticated.
“The compromise of a trusted supplier of software can result in widespread repercussions worldwide, as victims could include major vendors with huge customer bases,” the agency added.
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