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Whether it is in public, at home or the workplace, your personal devices are at risk of being compromised if they are connected to the Internet through unsecured channels or if you are too casual with online password security.

A recent online survey, the Norton Cyber Security Insights Report (NCSIR), conducted by Norton by Symantec found that one in two Singaporeans were victims of cybercrime, of which 60 per cent experienced cybercrime in the past year.

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Some of the more prominent forms of cybercrime that afflict Singaporeans include credit or debit card fraud, falling victim to online scams and hacking of personal data

As Edmund Chen, actor and guest speaker at the NCSIR presentation, rightly mentioned, cybercrime is just one of those things you never think would happen to you until it does. At the presentation, the actor recounted his experience of having his website “that hosted the information of 200 to 300 artistes hacked.”

He also added that his trusting nature and mindset that the “intangibles can’t hurt you physically” saw him engaging in poor password hygiene and hence falling victim to cybercrime.

Edmund shared that he would trust his passwords with operators, jot down his passwords on pieces of paper and even disclose his passwords to his group of friends. “Recently, I unwittingly shared my password with a stranger who claimed to know personal details about me and my family, and chaos ensued. My friends started receiving emails from ‘me’ stating that I was in trouble overseas and requesting money,” said Edmund.

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Edmund is certainly not the first nor the last victim of cybercrime. The NCSIR found that many Singaporeans still practice poor password hygiene and other risky online behaviours. Here are two mistakes that could make you susceptible to cybercrime.


Mistake 1: Using the same password across devices

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Why it’s bad: 20 per cent of the Singaporeans surveyed in the NCSIR actually admitted to using the same password across all their accounts, with 3 per cent of them retaining the default password that was assigned.

 If a hacker scores your password – they would probably try it on every account linked to your email. That is why it makes sense to use a different password for each online account.

What should you do: Set up a two-factor authentication (2FA) on all your online accounts. With 2FA, knowing the username and password alone is not enough. You would also need a second level of authentication such as a code issued via text message or by an app or dongle, for instance. Doing so adds an extra layer of security for your account, making it tougher for hackers to gain unauthorised access. You can also use a password manager to generate passwords for you to spare you the hassle of coming up with and remembering multiple passwords.


Mistake 2: Using free public Wi-Fi

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Why it’s bad: Even though 94 per cent of the Singaporeans surveyed knew that there is a risk in using public Wi-Fi networks, it still remains a common practice at cafes, hotels and even airports.

With a special software or device, the hacker can actually insert himself in the middle of an unsecured connection that will allow data that’s sent from the web server to go to the hacker before the device. As the data is not encrypted, the hacker would be able to see data that’s flowing between the web server and the device.

What should you do: Use a personal Virtual Private Network (VPN) that will allow you to create a secure connection to another network over the internet. When you use a VPN ( this can be downloaded from various websites), it shields your browsing activity from prying eyes on public Wi-Fi networks and keeps your personal information safe.