Increasing phishing attacks in Malaysia, Southeast Asia - Kaspersky

11 Oct 2022 05:10pm
Image for illustrative purposes only - 123RF
Image for illustrative purposes only - 123RF
KUALA LUMPUR - Phishing incidents continue to skyrocket in Southeast Asia with more than half of them targeting Kaspersky users in Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam in the first half of 2022.

Four out of six countries from Southeast Asia -- Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam -- saw phishing attacks exceeding last year’s activities, the cybersecurity company said in a statement today.

From January to June 2022, Kaspersky’s anti-phishing system blocked a total of 12,127,692 malicious links in Southeast Asia, one million more than the 11,260,643 detected over the same period last year.

Aside from losing money, Kaspersky’s researcher recently sounded the alarm that most of the advanced persistent threat (APT) groups in Asia Pacific use targeted phishing to enter into a highly-defended network.

‘’As the name ‘advanced’ suggests, an APT uses continuous, clandestine, and sophisticated hacking techniques to gain access to a system and remain inside for a prolonged period of time, with potentially destructive consequences.

‘’Because of the level of effort needed to carry out such an attack, APTs are usually leveled at high-value targets, such as nation states and large corporations, with the ultimate goal of stealing information over a long period of time, rather than simply ‘dipping in’ and leaving quickly, as many black hat hackers do during lower level cyber assaults,’’ it said in a statement.

Senior security researcher for Global Research and Analysis Team (GReAT) Noushin Shabab revealed that targeted phishing, also known as spear phishing, is the preferred infection vector of APT groups operating in the region.

General manager for Southeast Asia Yeo Siang Tiong said Kaspersky recently found that 75 per cent of executives here are aware and even anticipate advanced persistent threats and attacks against their organisations.

‘’With phishing incidents hitting the roof in the first six months of the year, enterprises, public entities, and government agencies should understand the impact of one wrong click on their critical networks and systems,’’ Noushin said.
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Hence, Yeo said backup security plans - like incident response capabilities - should be in place to stop a phishing email from becoming the launch pad of a damaging attack to an organisation.

‘’Traditional security often doesn't stop spear phishing attacks because they are so cleverly customised.

‘’As a result, they're becoming more difficult to detect. One employee's mistake can have serious consequences for businesses, governments, and even non-profit organisations,’’ he said.

Fraudsters can reveal commercially sensitive information, manipulate stock prices or commit various acts of espionage with solen data, Yeo said.

In addition, spear phishing attacks can deploy malware to hijack computers, organising them into enormous networks called botnets that can be used for denial of service attacks.

‘’To fight spear phishing scams, employees need to be aware of the threats, such as the possibility of bogus emails landing in their inboxes. Besides education, technology that focuses on email security is necessary.

‘’Kaspersky recommends installing protective anti-phishing solutions on mail servers as well as on employee workstations,’’ he said.

Yeo said for enterprises and organisations, Kaspersky suggests building incident response capabilities to help manage the aftermath of an attack and to incorporate threat intelligence services to have in-depth knowledge of the evolving threat and tactics of active APT groups. - BERNAMA