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Cyber criminals target Singapore with banking Trojans

Singapore is a top target for hackers and, in the second quarter of 2015, it was the country most targeted by cyber criminals using Trojans

Singapore suffered the most attacks from banking Trojans in the second quarter of 2015 with 496 individuals reporting attacks, according to Kaspersky Lab’s recent study.

Switzerland, Brazil, Australia and Hong Kong also made it onto the list of top five countries whose users are affected by banking Trojans.

In the same quarter, Kaspersky Lab said its services had deflected attempts to launch malware capable of stealing money via online banking on the computers of 755,642 of its users around the world. This is a decrease of 18.7% compared with the previous quarter.

Banking Trojans are a type of malware that can be installed on a victim’s computer and can automatically collect payment data and even conduct financial transactions on the victim’s behalf.

According to Kaspersky Lab, banking Trojans are the most prominent mobile threat, constituting over 95% of mobile malware. Over 98% of mobile banking attacks target Android devices.

It is no coincidence that Singapore is one of the Asean countries with the highest rates of digital banking.

In the global arena, Singapore has the second highest inclination for digital banking, according to an A.T. Kearney and EFMA global retail banking study.

“The nation was also placed among the top three for banking capabilities, which included innovative technological developments, a robust financial environment and digital infrastructure," said Jimmy Fong, channel sales director Southeast Asia, at Kaspersky Lab.

Singapore is a magnet for such banking Trojans, due to the combination of the country’s general wealth levels and growing use of associated services such as e-commerce and mobile commerce, said Michael Yeo, senior market analyst at IDC.

Online banking honeypot

“Singapore is one of the nations that uses online banking services the most, with 74% of the population using it and 55% using their mobile phones for banking,” said Yeo.

Read more about security in Asean countries

While other countries belonging to The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), such as Malaysia, have high usage of online banking and mobile banking services at 77% and 33% respectively, they may not be as big a target as Singapore, said Yeo. “They don’t have the visibility that Singapore does on a world stage in terms of its banks, and don’t have that many using credit cards and other sorts of online payments.”

Today, mobile banking has become the de facto method for doing short and quick transactions such as checking balances and sending money for peer-to-peer payments. However, in emerging Asean markets such as Thailand and Vietnam, mobile banking has become the primary online access method due to lack of desktop-based internet. For those markets, mobile banking becomes even more important, as it is likely the banks main point of contact with their customer, said Yeo.

"Cybercriminals are always looking for ways to access vital information that can be monetised, especially when it comes to online banking. Securing critical data that can cause financial loss is essential for both individuals and businesses," said Vitaly Kamluk, principal security researcher, at Kaspersky Lab.

"As banking becomes more convenient, it is vital that individuals follow best security practice when on the internet, recognising that they represent a portal or doorway for numerous malicious agents to get into bigger networks and systems, to wreak havoc and cause significant damage for the business they are part of."

Read more on IT for financial services