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Increased cyber threats reported in Singapore in 2019

The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) published its Singapore Cyber Landscape 2019 publication last week, which revealed that cyber threats grew in scale and complexity in 2019.

In line with global trends, Singapore witnessed an increase in cyber threats targeted at various local industries such as e-commerce, banking and finance.

These cyber threats included common malicious cyber activities such as website defacements, phishing incidents and malware infections.

The report also identified key cybersecurity trends. Aside from security risks associated with working from home due to COVID-19, the transition by organisations into cloud computing is also expected to increase the cybersecurity attack surface.

Other trends that are expected to have an impact on cybersecurity include Artificial Intelligence (AI), 5G, the surge in IoT devices and quantum computing.

Mr David Koh, Commissioner of Cybersecurity and Chief Executive of CSA, said, “As one of the most connected countries in the world, Singapore remains a target for cyber-attacks and cybercrime. Threat actors have continued to evolve their tactics, resulting in an intensification of malicious cyber activities in 2019. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has also provided new opportunities and attack surfaces for them to capitalise on. Cybersecurity is a team sport, and now, more than ever, we must come together to do our part to protect our cyberspace.”

Cybersecurity Breaches in 2019

The CSA received 35 reports of ransomware cases in 2019, compared to 21 cases in 2018.

In regards to compromised systems, the CSA detected about 530 unique Command & Control (C&C) servers in Singapore, compared to 300 observed in 2018. Organisations that suffered ransomware attacks mostly belonged to the travel and tourism, manufacturing and logistics industries.

47,500 Singapore-hosted phishing URLs were also detected in 2019, a sharp increase from 16,100 URLs in 2018.

The Singapore Police Force reported that cybercrime has continued to rise, with 9,430 cases reported in 2019, up from 6,215 cases in 2018. This accounted for more than one-quarter of all crimes in Singapore in 2019.

E-commerce scams continue to be the top scam type in Singapore, recording a 30 per cent increase from 2,161 cases in 2018, to 2,809 cases in 2019.

Steps to Strengthen Singapore’s Cybersecurity

CSA is working closely with partners from the public and private sectors to strengthen cyber resilience and to ensure that Singapore can respond swiftly and recover promptly from cyber incidents.

In 2019, CSA conducted regular cybersecurity exercises to raise the Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) sectors’ readiness to respond to cyber incidents, and worked with CII sector leads to ensure effective implementation of the SingHealth Committee of Inquiry’s recommendations.

CSA also collaborated with foreign CERTs and introduced initiatives to build a talent pool of skilled cyber defenders.

CSA is also reaching out to businesses and individuals to raise cybersecurity awareness and adoption through campaigns and platforms such as GoSafeOnline, SingCERT website and social media channels.

Other efforts include the push to enhance Internet of Things (IoT) security by introducing the Cybersecurity Labelling Scheme for selected smart devices, and galvanising research and knowledge-sharing with international partners.

As part of efforts to build a resilient cyberspace, the CSA also launched the ASEAN-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence last year to enhance regional cyber capacity building and drive efforts towards the implementation of voluntary cyber norms for a regulated international order in the cyber arena.

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