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Cyber attacks increase, despite growing threat awareness in APAC region

There is a significant gap between threat awareness and taking action in the APAC region, according to ESET's APAC Consumer Cybersecurity Survey.

The survey finds that three in five (62%) respondents in the region said they have experienced a cyber attack or online threat in the past 12 months.

By analysing consumers' habits based on previous online interactions, the survey provided insight into the awareness of basic cybersecurity threats and best practices of actions online.

Across the surveyed markets, the most common forms were attributed to malware/virus attacks (17%), theft of personal data (13%), and social media breach or duplication (11%).

Only about 23% of respondents installed free or paid antivirus/security app on their mobile devices.

According to ESET, as people are increasingly dependent on the internet to work, communicate, shop and entertain themselves, scammers are also taking advantage of the new normal to lure victims.

Around two thirds (67%) of surveyed respondents indicated that they have come across online scams. The most common types of scams were online shopping (21%), social media (18%), investment (15%).

With close to half of surveyed respondents saying that they shop online at least once a month, it is critical for consumers to remain vigilant when engaging in online transactions, the researchers state.

Moreover, more than half of the respondents in APAC trust the security measures by online retailers completely.

To protect themselves from scams, ESET states consumers should take precautions when shopping online.

Fortunately, more than 90% of surveyed respondents take some form of precaution when shopping online, with checking for product/seller reviews being the most popular method of assessing a retailers legitimacy across APAC.

Another key finding from ESET is that children's risk exposure via devices and through various online platforms offering services ranging from collaboration, online learning and video streaming to online games and social media, is growing.

This puts them at greater risk of encountering online threats, and it is important to teach children the essential skills to remain safe while navigating in an online environment, the researchers state.

To ensure that minors are protected in the digital world, parents should have a hand in demonstrating the threats that the online world poses, ESET states.

Most parents (90%) in APAC did take actions to ensure their children's online safety. Popular methods include limiting the amount of time their children spend online (31%), using parental control applications (29%) and checking what apps are installed on their children's devices (24%).

ESET president of Asia Pacific and Japan Parvinder Walia says, “While the pandemic has introduced a new paradigm in the way we live, work, learn, socialise and play, it has also resulted in consumers' increased reliance on digital technologies and services, which is a major factor for cyber criminals to pursue illegal activities.

"As we continue to navigate challenges from the pandemic, the reliance on digital technology for various aspects of our daily lives will likely spill into the future.

"Our survey findings suggest that it is now common for internet users to encounter online threats. Therefore, it is critical that consumers are educated about the growing threats, and are aware of the steps they can take to protect themselves as well as their children when conducting online activities.

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