SINGAPORE: As restrictions imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic were lifted, there was a surge in digital fraud, with attacks increasing around the globe by 20 per cent from 2021 to 2022. Singapore, in particular, was “being clearly targeted at the start of the year with a surge in fraud attacks,” says the LexisNexis Risk Solutions Cybercrime Report.

The report noted that by the end of 2022, the perpetrators of cybercrimes were already looking forward to broader opportunities. Moreover, with the world going back to business, “there was talk of a new global fraud pandemic” of all sorts of scams being reported more and more often in the news. These involved both traditional account takeovers carried out through phishing attacks as well as more complex authorized push payment fraud.

It also said that in Singapore, there was a staggering number of digital fraud attacks—32 million—last year. Perpetrators of cyber crimes took advantage of the country’s open economy and status as a finance hub, and global fraud groups are closely linked to attacks on organisations based in Singapore.

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Digital fraud in Singapore has come at higher rates than in the rest of the Asia Pacific region. While the volume of transactions went up significantly by 31 per cent in the APAC region from 2021 to 2022, in Singapore it rose by 145 per cent.

Human-initiated attacks only increased by 38 per cent in APAC, while they rose by 93 per cent in Singapore. However, one of the most interesting points in the report is the high volume of attacks carried out by bots in Singapore—which is up by 146 per cent. In the rest of the region, bot attacks went down by 19 per cent. These bot attacks are aimed at e-commerce payment transactions. Moreover, Singapore’s rate of bot attacks is five times higher than the rest of the world’s.

 

Screengrab: LexisNexis Risk Solutions Cybercrime Report.

It should not be surprising then that overall, the attack rate for Singapore was higher than the average for the APAC region. The attack rate for Singapore was at 5.2 per cent for desktops, while for the rest of the region, it was at 3.1 per cent.

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However, the scenario for mobile attacks is different. Singapore’s mobile browser attack rate was at 2.9 per cent, while for Asia Pacific it was at 3.8 per cent. For mobile app attack rates, Singapore’s was at 0.1 per cent, but for the APAC region, it was slightly higher at 0.4 per cent.

“Countries in the Asia Pacific region are in different stages of economic development and businesses are struggling to implement an effective fraud prevention approach that can address multiple regional challenges under fragmented market conditions across the region. Payment fraud is seen as a huge opportunity for cybercriminals in APAC, as alternative payment methods continue their popularity in the region,” the report reads.

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