Since the circuit breaker measures were implemented in April, Kaspersky’s latest survey has revealed that Singaporeans spend an average of 6 hours and 17 minutes online on a daily basis, with the majority of them reporting an average increase of 2 to 5 hours more daily in the months of May and June.

The COVID-19 outbreak has led to significant changes in work practices as well as the manner we go about with our daily lives, performing basic tasks such as shopping for groceries and making food purchases. Hence, it comes as no surprise that Singapore’s e-commerce boom is currently witnessing a boom, while businesses and educational institutions have adopted tele-conferencing tools to make remote working and online learning a reality.

With the average Singaporean spending a quarter of their day online, there is a need for us to reconsider how our online behaviour in this age of the ‘new normal’ will redefine the kind of cybersecurity threats that are expected to develop in due course.

Figures from Kaspersky’s survey show that Singaporeans spent the most amount of time on social media (72%), followed by watching/streaming movies and TV shows (68%), and on personal emails (65%).

At the same time, the volume of ‘in-person’ activities have also changed accordingly, with 95% of surveyed respondents moving at least one ‘in-person’ activity to be online.

Notably, 60% are now shopping online, followed by 54% stating that they have refrained from any physical interactions with their family and friends and socialising with them online instead, and 48% seeking online entertainment and conducting their work meetings virtually.

Of the activities that are now conducted online, the biggest concerns revolved around dating and meeting people virtually (78%) and financial matters (64%).

“The COVID-19 outbreak has redefined both our physical and digital relationships with each other, and it is expected to leave a lasting digital legacy for many of us, as our habits of shopping online and working from home are expected to persist in some form long after the pandemic is over. On the surface, it appears that we have successfully acclimatised to having technology play a bigger part in our lives. However, a true digital transformation story in this ‘new normal’ should not just focus on what kind of technologies we are leveraging to improve our daily lives, but also how we deal with the challenges arising from them as well. Having a better sense of the cybersecurity challenges and knowing how to deal with them will help strengthen our digital resilience, allowing us to emerge stronger from this outbreak,” says Yeo Siang Tiong, General Manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky.

With more people working from home today, Kaspersky’s survey also found that while 66% of surveyed respondents were aware of the need to pay more attention to their digital security, a little more than half (56%) had not adapted any of their online processes to reflect the new reality, with 40% assuming everything was safe and secure since their family, friends and colleagues also did not appear to be overly worried.

Together, these statistics highlight the low level of cybersecurity awareness presented in Kaspersky’s report that was published in May this year, How COVID-19 changed the way people work, where three in four (73%) employees working from home have not yet received any specific cybersecurity awareness guidance or training to safeguard against risks posed by remote working.

If you are working from home, or just simply spending your extra time online, Kaspersky advises the following recommendations to help you remain connected in a secure manner:

  • Keep a list of your online accounts so you have a full understanding of which services and websites may be storing your personal information
  • Start using “Privacy Checker” that helps consider setting your social media profiles to private. It will make it harder for third parties to find highly personal information
  • Look at the downloaded file extension. Even if you are going to download a video file from a source you consider trusted and legitimate, the file should have an .avi, .mkv or .mp4 extension, among other video formats, definitely not .exe
  • Check the website’s authenticity. Do not visit websites allowing you to watch a movie until you are sure that they are legitimate and start with ‘https.’ Confirm that the website is genuine by double-checking the format of the URL or the spelling of the company name, reading reviews about it and checking the domains’ registration data before starting downloads
  • Take key data protection measures to safeguard corporate data and devices, including switching on password protection, encrypting work devices and ensuring data is backed up
  • Ensure devices, software, applications and services are kept updated with the latest patches
  • Install proven protection software, such as Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud, on all endpoints, including mobile devices. It also helps ensure that only approved online services are used for work purposes, reducing the risks of shadow IT.