Global increase in mobile malware but smartphone security lax here, Tech News News & Top Stories

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SINGAPORE – Amid the Covid-19 pandemic last year, the volume of malware detected globally for mobile devices such as smartphones jumped 15 per cent compared with 2019.

And the number of new mobile malware programs detected in 2020 spiked by 88 per cent, based on figures cyber-security firm McAfee provided to The Straits Times last week.

Moreusers in Singapore have been found by recent surveys to be lax with security on their mobile gadgets even as many consumers and businesses have gone digital during the pandemic.

“Cyber criminals are getting more and more sophisticated, and they’re always on the lookout for easy targets through the channels consumers spend the most time on. And increasingly, this means our mobile devices,” said Mr Shashwat Khandelwal, McAfee’s head of consumer business for South-east Asia.

“With the boom in digital banking, e-commerce and mobile payment, our smartphones are now gateways to our credit card details, personal data and more. This makes cyber threats targeted at mobile devices a much more lucrative and enticing business for malicious actors.”

In Singapore, the total value of mobile payments made through smartphone apps more than doubled last year to US$2 billion (S$2.7 billion), according to research firm Statista.

The latest figures from McAfee also showed that mobile malware could be rising this year too. In the first quarter, there were 46 million mobile malware programs detected by the firm globally, up 23 per cent from the same period last year.

Total mobile malware programs detected last year hit 160 million, higher than the nearly 139 million in 2019.

As for new mobile malware, McAfee found 2.3 million in the first three months of this year, up 73 per cent from a year ago.

There were 7.7 million new types of malware affecting mobile devices last year, nearly twice the 4.1 million in 2019.

The rising threat of mobile malware contrasts with more people here who are not taking steps to protect themselves.

Findings released last week by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore showed that 78 per cent of people here understood the risks of not having cyber-security apps installed on their mobile devices, such as anti-virus software and…