AMBER VERNETTI WRITES — Remember the scenario of a notorious masked bandit snatching an old lady’s purse, only to get caught/intercepted by police or a helpful stranger? While occurrences like this still exist in today’s world, crime has evolved with the times and has entered the digital age.

The recent Symantec Internet Security Threat Report reveals that Singapore is “ranked the seventh highest in the Asia-Pacific region in terms of volume of such cases” and that popular cyber crimes are shifting from email to social media. This annual report contains information from more than 57.6 million sensors measuring cybercrime in more than 160 countries and regions.

Peter Sparkes, Symantec’s senior director of cyber security in Asia Pacific and Japan, said that “instead of doing the dirty work themselves, cyber criminals are taking advantage of unwitting users to proliferate their scams. Interestingly, the majority of such scams, up to 87 percent, were shared manually as attackers took advantage of the trust that people have in content shared by their friends.”

Earlier this month, Interpol, the worldwide police system, established another office in Singapore in the hopes of combating cybercrime with more force. Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock said that the office, formally known as the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI), is “best-placed to assist police forces around the world address emerging threats.”

This new establishment is situated in Singapore’s diplomatic region where it will be managed by 110 workers from over 50 countries. The IGCI also includes a forensics laboratory that will support research regarding digital crimes and unlock the secrets of the most recent methods utilized by cyber criminals.

In this day and age, many aspects of daily life are controlled by the “Internet of things” – this refers to how household devices, locks, and thermostats depend on the Internet for service. With rising occurrences of crimes committed via the Internet, these items must be closely monitored due to their “vulnerabilities, including inadequate passwords or encryption.” Noboru Nakatani, chief director of IGCI, explains that cybercrime easily crosses borders and, thus, legal officials are facing taxing demands with conventional and limited means: “Cybercrime is a truly transnational crime in nature. It is a huge challenge to law enforcement…Even the wealthy countries have limited resources to deal with cyber crime.”

With Interpol’s new office, we can only hope workers can keep up with the wits and cunning of criminals who lurk in the shadows of cyberspace.