In a recent cybersecurity breach, a 34-year-old Singaporean woman was scammed out of nearly S$30,000 by perpetrators who seized control of her phone via a third-party application. This alarming incident throws a stark spotlight on the growing threat of malicious software, also known as malvertising, and underscores the urgent need for stringent mobile security measures.
The victim, referred to as Tan, was lured by an enticing Facebook ad that offered a free food blender to users who downloaded a specific shopping app and made a minimal purchase. Falling for what seemed like a lucrative deal, Tan installed the app, which was a ploy by the scammers to gain control of her device. Despite encountering technical glitches, she was placated by the alleged support team, who claimed that these issues were temporary, attributed to the app being new.
However, it was too late when Tan discovered that her phone was compromised. She was notified of a large transaction she didn’t authorize and was powerless to halt it. In a short span, six transactions totaling S$29,877.90 were made from her DBS Bank account.
Kevin Reed, a cybersecurity expert from Acronis, identifies this incident as a case of malvertising, which particularly threatens Android users due to the system’s openness to software installations from sources beyond the Google Play Store. This threat is not limited to Android users; with EU’s upcoming Digital Markets Act, Apple may also need to permit apps from external sources, thereby increasing the risk.
DBS Bank promises to aid scam victims, emphasizing the customers’ crucial role in maintaining security through measures like real-time transaction alerts and immediate response to suspected fraudulent activity. DBS also sent out a warning against fake social media ads and unsafe app downloads.
Reed’s advice to users is to steer clear of apps from sources other than official app stores, and to immediately power off their device if they suspect a malware attack.
This incident is not an isolated one. Earlier in the year, warnings against such scams were issued by Singapore’s police and the Cyber Security Agency. These scams, which trick victims into downloading dubious apps, have resulted in significant financial losses.
This news is based on The Star.