#datingscams | Commentary: The year hackers and scammers exploited our COVID-19 fears to cheat us

Scammers are using increasingly sophisticated tactics to target specific groups of people, says McAfee’s Shashwat Khandelwal.

Photo illustration of a man using a laptop. (File photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

SINGAPORE: 2020 may be the year that a deadly infectious disease, COVID-19, stole. But a larger theft has gone mostly unnoticed.

For years, people have been using digital platforms to purchase goods and services, bolstered by Singapore’s Smart Nation initiatives. COVID-19 has further accelerated this shift to the online world.

While the digital leap confers benefits and convenience to us, it has also created opportunities for malicious actors.

LISTEN: Phishing scams and the sketchy tricks of the online crime trade

Recognising the ever-present risk of cybercrime, the Singapore Government has actively encouraged digital literacy through various means, from the Media Literacy Council’s Better Internet Campaign 2020 to integrating cybersecurity instruction across disciplines in schools.

Yet cybercriminals have made strides in accessing Singaporeans’ wallets in three ways this year.

READ: More than a quarter of Singapore residents suffered at least 1 cybersecurity lapse in past year: CSA survey


First, cyber criminals have exploited fears over the pandemic to ensnare new victims.

McAfee’s recent COVID-19 Threat Report found an average of 375 new threats per minute and a surge of coronavirus-themed malicious apps, phishing campaigns, malware and more around the world.

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