72% of “always-on” Singaporeans think their digital lifestyles are secure, yet almost half have been hacked

72% of “always-on” Singaporeans think their digital lifestyles are secure, yet almost half have been hacked

Singapore leads the world in terms of internet inclusivity, and along with the government doubling down on outreach efforts to equip every individual with digital tools and skills, it is little surprise a survey commissioned by global cybersecurity company Kaspersky has found that almost all Singaporean households have a mobile phone (97 per cent) and a computer (92 per cent), while just over three quarters have a tablet or Smart TV (both 77 per cent).

On average, each household has three mobile phones and two computers. This number increases to an average of four mobile phones and three computers among Generation Z (18 – 24-year-old) respondents.

While 87 per cent of households have at least one device connected to the internet and 72 per cent of households always have multiple devices connected to the internet.

Connected devices are most commonly used for streaming TV shows and movies (73 per cent), and search engines (70 per cent), with news (63 per cent), and music streaming (58 per cent). Entertainment goals is the next most utilised function at 55 per cent.

Interestingly, surveyed parents use connected devices more than the average Singaporean to stream TV shows, with 84 per cent reporting streaming TV as one of the services used. Despite labels that older generations hate technology and younger generations are obsessed with IT, the reality is that all generations are starting to embrace digital life.

In tandem with the increasing comfort and reliance on using technology, three quarters (76 per cent) think that their digital lifestyle is safe for their privacy. Generation Z respondents were most confident of their security, with 84 per cent thinking that their digital lifestyle is safe.

However, this confidence and familiarity may have resulted in flippant attitudes on cybersecurity across the board, as over two in five have knowingly been hacked (44 per cent), most often via an email account or social media.

Yet the true proportion of people who may have been hacked could possibly be even higher, as 15 per cent have never checked, while 19 per cent are unsure because they are unaware of ways to find out if they have been hacked.

The most popular connected devices in local households are mobile phones (97 per cent), computers (92 per cent) and tablets (77 per cent).  Smart home devices have also become increasingly popular in the past few years.

Currently, 77 per cent of households have a smart TV, 56 per cent have a wireless printer, and 34 per cent have a voice assistant or smart speakers, and the penetration rate for such connected or Internet of Things (IoT) devices is expected to increase from 25.3 per cent of households in 2020 to 40.1 per cent in 2024.

Other popular devices include smart home controllers, smart lights and smart energy meters. According to Kaspersky’s latest IoT report, 105 million attacks were detected globally in 1H 2019, a seven-fold increase as compared to the year before. While these devices do not usually come to mind when it comes to the latest cybersecurity incidents, they are just as vulnerable to exploitation by cybercriminals. 

“As Singapore continues to harness technology as part of its Smart Nation initiative, households become more digitally connected, at the same time, become more susceptible to cyber threats. It is crucial for users to be aware of the security risks they face, especially as more users start to embrace a connected lifestyle,” said Yeo Siang Tiong, General Manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky.

“Particularly with the current expedited shift in the IT environment we are now facing because of the pandemic, there is a need for greater cybersecurity awareness as users cannot afford to let up on their cyber guard. The best defence is to remain vigilant to where our digital vulnerabilities lie,” he added.

To keep your digital lifestyles secure, Kaspersky recommends the following measures:

  • Install updates for the firmware you use as soon as possible. Once a vulnerability is found, it can be fixed through patches within updates.
  • Keep access to IoT devices restricted by a local VPN, allowing you to access them from your “home” network, instead of publicly exposing them on the internet.
  • Use complicated passwords that include both capital and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols if it’s possible.
  • Do not install apps from unknown sources. Install only from verified and trusted stores.
  • Check the permissions of the apps that you use and think twice before giving a permission to an app, especially when it comes to high risk permissions such as permission to use Accessibility services.
  • Install Kaspersky Total Security, it is your premium family security suite with anti-malware, anti-fraud and anti-tracking. It comes with tools like password protection and automatic Wi-Fi security. Plus it lets you protect your kids with web controls and GPS.
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