Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself: Cyber Threats in 2018

Globally, cybercrime is on the rise and South-east Asia has seen a similar spike in attacks carried out in the region.

Over half of consumers in the region are concerned about the current state of cyber security and feel that businesses are not doing enough to thwart such attacks, according to a 2017 Limelight Networks study.

This year, there are four key areas to watch when it comes to cyber security: social engineering, the Smart Home concept, digital safety for kids and the rise of cryptocurrency.


For businesses and consumers recovering from last year's string of cyber attacks, the start of this year saw no respite from such incidents.

Social media, especially Facebook, was one platform cyber criminals used as an attack vector to carry out malicious attacks.

In today's connected world, consumers are sharing more personal information online and we will continue to see that cyber criminals are becoming more creative in method adoption to trick, deceive and manipulate victims into handing over sensitive information and money.


As the smart home vision continues to become a reality in Singapore, so does the potential for privacy breaches to occur.

Although most people view their homes as a safe and private space, the use of smart gadgets may inevitably turn them into sitting ducks for corporations keen to gain new insights into their likes and wants.

Last October, Google Home's mini speaker was found to have been recording conversations due to a hardware flaw which has since been fixed. This, however, shows the potential for connected devices to collect and store information without consumer consent.

Worryingly, 20 per cent of Singaporeans would still knowingly purchase a connected device vulnerable to hacking.


Parents should monitor their child's digital usage as they could be exposed to unwanted dangers such as sensitive content, falling prey to online predators, or having their data collected by businesses.

Companies have begun collecting and leveraging digital content generated by children to achieve user app "stickiness".

While most Singaporean parents have talked to their children about online safely, 41 per cent do not understand the risks well enough to explain the dangers to them.


As the cryptocurrency craze soared to an all-time high last year, cyber criminals followed where the money went.

Ransomware has also been given a new lease of life, with hackers now demanding to be paid in cryptocurrency due to its untraceable nature.

Moving into this year, the cryptocurrency market will be caught between growth and security and the targets on their backs will widen.

While it may seem scary navigating the digital sphere, consumers can take these simple measures to safeguard themselves against cyber attacks:

  • Choose trusted and reputable security solutions that are automatically updated against the latest threats.
  • Update devices regularly to stay on top of vulnerabilities. Be patient and allow updates to run as needed.
  • The age-old saying, "sharing is caring", should never apply to personal passwords.
  • l Check the status of mobile apps regularly, and delete apps that are no longer used and supported in stores.
  • Pay close attention before clicking on a link.
  • As major data breaches continue to occur, regularly back up devices.
  • Be wary of the cyber security risks associated with cryptocurrency and stay abreast of the latest news and developments in this space.

- The writer is Vice-President, Consumer - Asia Pacific, McAfee