Singapore not safe from cybercrime: Expert

Many cases of cyber bank robbery, e-mail hits and ransomware attacks not reported

Singapore is not exempt from three "mega trends" - cyber bank robbery, ransomware attacks and business e-mail compromise attacks - that have plagued the cybercrime world in the last year, said the executive director of the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI).

However, many of these cases go unreported, said Mr Noboru Nakatani, one of Interpol's leading experts on cybercrime and security. He spoke to The Straits Times yesterday on the sidelines of a media roundtable ahead of the Interpol World 2017 event next month.

The IGCI represents the collective efforts of the organisation's 190 member countries to come together and pool resources to bring down cybercrime syndicates.

He said: "There's under-reporting because it's quite embarrassing. (But if) a bank robbery takes place on the street, (companies) will 100 per cent go to the police; this is not necessarily the same for cyber bank robbery. Sometimes the cybercrimes are not given sufficient attention."

This comes against the backdrop of the global proliferation of cyber attacks and, most recently, the WannaCry ransomware last month that affected digital signs in some malls and some computers here, with even greater fallout overseas.

PwC's 2016 Global Economic Crime Survey showed cybercrime incidents targeting Singapore-based companies have spiked from 15 per cent in 2014 to 43 per cent last year, becoming the second-most prevalent economic crime here.

  • 10,000 to attend Interpol World

  • Interpol World 2017 will see more than 10,000 participants - from international law enforcement agencies, government bodies, academia and security companies - get together at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre.

    The event will also feature the Interpol World Congress from July 4 to 6, which will have more than 40 speakers from the public and private sectors address three tracks: cybercrime, safe cities and identity management.

    The other element is the Interpol World Exhibition from July 5 to 7, which will feature more than 300 companies presenting the latest solutions and technologies for public safety, biometrics, investigations and cybercrime.

Dr M. van Staalduinen, innovation manager for Dark Web, cybercrime and cyber security at the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, was also part of the roundtable.

He said: "I see (WannaCry) as an excellent awareness campaign... The world is now awake, this is a global issue... It shows the vulnerability of our society."

Mr Nakatani stressed the need for collaboration between international law agencies, governments and the private sector: "Sometimes, we do not share information because of bureaucracy or competition, then we lose (the) competitive edge to compete with criminals. They do things fast, and we try to catch up."

He added that cybercrime yields high rewards at a low risk, and this could mean that terrorists might turn to it to finance their activities.