Published: 12:57, May 28, 2023 | Updated: 17:47, May 28, 2023
Police launch 'CyberDefender' platform as online crimes rise
By Wang Zhan

The Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau of the Hong Kong Police Force launches the "CyberDefender Metaverse" platform and holds its first online event "Exploring the Metaverse", attracting the participation of more than 120 teenagers, teachers, and parents on May 27, 2023. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT)

HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Police Force launched an online platform on Saturday to educate the public about cyber threats as the number of crimes related to virtual assets rose by nearly 50 percent in the first quarter of the year.

The Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau launched the "CyberDefender Metaverse" platform and held its first online event to enlighten the public about the threats and opportunities linked with Web3 and the Metaverse, according to a police statement.

Chief Inspector of CSTCB Ip Cheuk-yu said that all the crimes in cyber space could also happen in the Metaverse, such as investment frauds, unauthorized access to systems, theft and sexual offenses

Chief Inspector of CSTCB Ip Cheuk-yu said that all the crimes in cyber space could also happen in the Metaverse, such as investment frauds, unauthorized access to systems, theft and sexual offenses.

The decentralized nature and use of virtual assets in Web3 may also increase the likelihood of cyber criminals targeting end point devices, virtual asset wallets and smart contracts, he added.

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In 2022, Hong Kong recorded 2,336 virtual asset-related cases with a loss of HK$1.7 billion ($217 million), according to the statement.

In the first quarter of this year, police received 663 cases of its kind with a total loss of HK$570 million, representing respective increases of 44 percent and 75 percent compared with the first quarter of last year, it added.

“Most of these cases involved virtual asset investment. Cyber criminals took advantage of the public's lack of knowledge about virtual assets and lured them into non-existent investment activities, causing significant financial losses and social impacts,” the statement reads. 

Founding President of the Esports Association Hong Kong Eric Yeung and Chairman of the Hong Kong Multimedia Design Association Aska Yeung were invited as guest speakers at the event.

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Besides providing different perspectives on the entrepreneurial opportunities and challenges of Web3 and the Metaverse, they also discussed the career prospects of artists in the non-fungible tokens (NFT) industry, as well as related challenges.

To enhance the digital literacy of the younger generation, police will continue to organize public educational initiatives on different themes through the "CyberDefender Metaverse" platform, and raise the awareness of teenagers about the latest developments in information technology, potential pitfalls and the importance of preventing tech crimes.