APAC firms face growing cyberattacks, take more than a week to remediate

Some 68% of respondents in a Sophos study said they had been successfully breached this past year, up from 32% in 2019. Amongst those that were breached, 55% said they suffered “very serious” or “serious” data loss, revealed the survey, which was conducted by Tech Research Asia and polled 900 businesses — with at least 150 employees — in Singapore, India, Japan, Malaysia, Australia, and the Philippines. 

In addition, 17% faced more than 50 cyber attacks each week. In Singapore, for instance, almost 15% had to deal with at least 50 attempted security attacks or mistakes per week. Some 28% in the city-state eventually were successfully breached in the past year, with 33% describing the resulting data loss as very serious or serious. 

The recent cyber-attack that brought down New Zealand’s stock exchange (NZX) are grim reminders that bad actors never sleep and are capable of overwhelming cybersecurity teams – and especially now, during a pandemic. An analysis of the cyber-threat landscape across Asia throws up an uncomfortable picture. Findings from a 2020 Data Threat Report – Asia Pacific (APAC) showed that an alarming 45 per cent of 500 APAC executives surveyed admitted to suffering a breach or failing a compliance audit. Cybercrime rates are the highest concern in Singapore at 69 per cent. The findings come as workers across the region are working from home due to Covid-19, often using personal devices which do not have the built-in security which office systems do, significantly increasing the risks to sensitive data.

Japan’s most recent cyber attack was reported in November by Japanese video game giant Capcom, which was hit with a ransom demand of 1.1 billion yen in exchange for the retrieval of stolen materials. While the company refused to cooperate, it’s suspected a Russian cyber criminal group called Ragnar Locker was behind the theft of around 350,000 confidential documents. 

It’s not just small businesses with fewer resources being targeted. Since August, major global Japanese brands such as Honda, Canon, Toto, Citizen watches, Yaskawa Electric, and Asunaro Aoki Construction have been infected with ransomware and malware. In June, Honda’s global operations were disrupted by a cyber attack that left ransomware on hundreds of thousands of its computers. The malware was identified as a so-called WannaCry virus, which leaves computers inaccessible until a ransom is paid. Honda was forced to temporarily halt production of motorcycles in India and Brazil as well as suspending the production of 1,000 cars in Japan, the U.K., North America, Turkey and Italy.

The damage caused by cyber attacks extends beyond the loss of money and also includes the risk that stolen information will be leaked or sold on the black market. In November, the personal information of Japanese users stolen from event management app Peatrix, including names, email addresses and credit card details, were discovered on sale for $10 to $100 per unit. 

“India was the second most attacked country in the Asia Pacific. Attacks on India made up 7 per cent of all attacks X-Force observed on Asia in 2020.

“Finance and insurance was the top attacked industry in India (60 per cent), followed by manufacturing and professional services,” the report said.

Ransomware was the top attack type, accounting for around 40 per cent of total cyber attacks.

In addition, X-Force observed digital currency mining and server access attacks had hit Indian companies last year.

“We also witnessed cybercriminals using relief efforts and public health information as spam lures including targeted attacks on critical components of the vaccine supply chain. These all remain issues in 2021,” Sudeep Das, Security Software Technical Sales Leader, IB

M Technology Sales, India/South Asia, said in a statement.

“Political confrontation and tension will always be reflected in cyber space,” Kamluk said, noting that cyber criminals have leveraged political tension and the coronavirus to launch more cyber attacks in Malaysia.

In some cases, however, the coronavirus had slowed down certain types of cyber criminal activity. Citing Kaspersky’s research, Kamluk said in Indonesia, for example, fewer people came across crypto-mining websites from March 2020 compared to January 2020.

“Not only threats but all cyber criminal activities were kind of suspended for a few months, starting from March when Europe and other countries started implementing containment measures,” Kamluk said, noting that volume of cyber criminal activities was fluctuating in August as countries went in and out of lockdowns.

Microsoft says it has identified a group of hackers with links to the Chinese government that have been waging a cyber attack campaign targeting its Exchange email server software. The tech giant says the Hafnium cyber espionage group has been trying to steal data from businesses and organisations, and is urging all users to update their systems with the latest security patches. But first, British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak is set to unveil the government’s next budget, as the country faces the mounting economic cost of the Covid-19 pandemic.