Banks remain target of cyberthreats; scams, misinformation about virus, vaccines will dominate cyberspace

·3 min read

CYBERTHREATS will continue to challenge the banking and financial sector as countries in Southeast Asia keep on fighting the spread of Covid-19 and roll out vaccines in different phases.

Kaspersky’s said the main trends witnessed in cyberspace last year will continue in 2021. These include the abuse of the Covid-19 theme, the exploit of researches related to the pandemic and the scams and misinformation about the virus and the vaccines.

“It is becoming clear that these threat actors will keep on using topics related with the pandemic to trick the human mind. While vaccines are here, the situation continues to be uncertain. Countries are still implementing lockdowns, virtual learning and working are both here to stay, and digital payments are on the rise. This means information technology (IT) infrastructure remains outstretched, further opening loopholes for threats targeting beyond Windows and internet-facing network devices as well as multi-platform and supply chain attacks,” said Seongsu Park, senior security researcher, Global Research and Analysis Team (Great) at Kaspersky, in a recent virtual meeting.

More than 80,000 Covid-related domain connections and malicious websites were detected by Kaspersky in 2020 in Southeast Asia alone. Malaysia registered the highest number followed by Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia.

According to Kasperksy, banks remain charming targets for cyber adversaries. In fact, data from Kaspersky’s Great revealed that banks and financial institutions were the second and third most targeted sectors last year, globally.

The Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) said it has intensified its fight against cybercrime by enhancing education campaigns to the general public and skills training sessions to bank personnel as cases of cyber fraud increased during the pandemic.

“Tough times bring out the best in good organizations. Given the unique challenges of the past year, the quality, intensity and output of the BAP’s engagement with regulators, lawmakers and our many other publics uphold this truth,” said Cezar Consing, BAP’s immediate past president and chairman.

Cryptocurrency

The other lucrative target for cybercriminals is the emerging cryptocurrency business in Southeast Asia. As the value of cryptocurrency surges, many cyber threat groups are now waging online attacks against this sector.

“Cryptocurrency is steadily being embraced in Southeast Asia, hence it is a natural progression for cybercriminals to set their eyes here. Its growth is part and parcel of the region’s digital transformation, and is parallel to the increased adoption of e-commerce and digital payments,” said Yeo Siang Tiong, general manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky.

“As we continue to move our money to the online world, we have also witnessed massive data breaches and ransomware attacks last year, which should serve as a warning for financial institutions and payment service providers. It is crucial for banking and financial services providers to realize, as early as now, the value of intelligence-based, proactive defense to fend off these costly cyberattacks,” Yeo added.

Kaspersky has reiterated that companies not limited to the banking sector should boost their cyber defense by performing regular security audit of their IT infrastructure, forbidding the installation of programs from unknown sources, using traffic monitoring software, conducting regular security training sessions for staff, installing the latest updates and patches for all software and integrating threat intelligence and security controls. (KOC)