Surge in Hong Kong cybercrime makes 2 million victims

The number of fraudulent banking websites reported in Hong Kong has surged this year, with over two million Hongkongers thought to have been affected by cybercrime.

In August alone, there were 15 reports of such incidents, compared with only two cases of fake websites or phishing attempts in the same month a year ago, according to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA). In September, seven incidents were reported, up from one a year ago.

At least 2 million internet users in Hong Kong were hit by cybercrime in last year, with victims losing $28 on average and spending 19 hours trying to fix the problem.

Customers of DBS, Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, as well as Dah Sing have been among the targets of the criminals. With the rise of financial technology firms and mobile banking apps, experts predict that novice mobile banking users will become prime targets, specialised media outlet Finews.asia reports.

Hong Kong’s cybercrime rate last year was higher than Japan and Singapore’s – 18% and 33% respectively – which were the two other developed Asian economies included in Symantec’s annual poll of 20 cities and countries.

“Large financial organizations invest considerable resources in cybersecurity, thus the penetration of their infrastructure is not an easy task. However, a threat vector that is likely to be actively used by cybercriminals in the coming year is attacks on software vendors supplying financial organizations,” Kaspersky Lab’s cyberthreat research centre Securelist said.

Police figures show cybercrime cases have skyrocketed. The force recorded 653 cases of cybercrimes in 2005, the first year it began tracking such offences, and saw the number reach 5,939 in 2016, with HK$2.3bn lost that year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pedro Gonçalves
Pedro Gonçalves is Financial Correspondent at International Investment.

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