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Singapore Web users ‘targeted more heavily’ by cybercriminals: Trend Micro

Local users clicking on malicious URLs increased 128 per cent between April to June, compared to the previous quarter, which indicates that Singaporeans are still “pretty vulnerable to online scams”, says the IT security company.

SINGAPORE: There was an increase in the number of Internet users in Singapore clicking on malicious Web links, or URLs, between April and June this year, and this suggests that users in Singapore are “being targeted more heavily than before”, according to IT security firm Trend Micro.

In its recently released TrendLabs Q2 2014 Security Roundup, the company said in Singapore, there was an 837 per cent spike in the number of malicious URLs hosted in Singapore “because of the heavy presence of malicious Web ads”.

Trend Micro Singapore Country Manager David Siah said the presence of these malicious Web ads was not unique to Singapore, although it should be noted that most of the gain in traffic in the second quarter “came from one specific malicious domain used for Web ads”.

The report also found that there was an increase of 128 per cent in the number of users in Singapore clicking on malicious URLs. “This shows that Singaporeans are still pretty vulnerable to online scams which may compromise important and sensitive information,” the company said.

Mr Siah added that the increase in click rates on malicious URLs could stem from lack of user awareness and poor online habits. “User behavior has more or less stayed the same, and the overall data suggests that users in Singapore are being targeted more heavily than before. Our data is consistent with the findings of the Singapore Police Force (SPF) – online threats are on the rise.”

The SPF had issued its Mid-Year Crime Brief report on Aug 13, and stated that cheating involving e-commerce spiked 425 per cent in the first six months of the year, while cyber extortion rose 247 per cent.


Trend Micro also stated that there was a 3 per cent decrease in online banking malware detections over the previous quarter. Mr Siah said, however, that the dip was “actually not a lot”.

“Globally, there was a drop in online banking malware detections this quarter, and one possible cause of this was the Gameover Zeus (GOZ) disruption in early June. The data in Singapore is consistent with that trend,” he said. The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore had reported in June that 2,000 users were affected by the GOZ and CryptoLocker malware.

That said, the executive said some of Singapore’s neighbours like Malaysia are included in the top 10 most affected countries. This is why local users should continue to be vigilant about these types of threats, he added.

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