All over the world, the threat of a digital infrastructure crashing is as valid as an earthquake decimating a 50-story building or a series of typhoons striking without any preamble, ruining everything on their path.
For anybody who is connected to the Internet, the threat is real and the Philippines is not exempted from it, says Trend Micro Philippines director for marketing communications Myla Pilao.
“Security is almost a buzz word. Five years ago, the issue on security doesn’t land in any of the news. The old mindset of security is that if there is no malware or infection, there is nothing to worry about. Today, I don’t think it’s true anymore. We are so much living a digital lifestyle in a digital world that being connected is native to us already,” she says.
“Anything connected to Internet, we have to assume it is or it can be compromised. If it is connected to the Internet, then it is a target. The freedom of data coming in or out is presenting trouble when it comes to hard data,” she says.
Trend Micro is a global leader in IT security, cloud security and small business content security. It develops innovative security solutions that make the world safe for businesses and consumers to exchange digital information.
Pilao, who also heads Trend Micro’s TrendLabs technical marketing team, monitors the development of global materials and supporting communication plans that aim to broaden the public’s understanding on threats and security.
“What threats do we see in the Philippines? We are seeing theft in the retail industry when do e-commerce. There are a lot of malwares online that are being introduced. Second is online banking. The Philippines ranks fourth in the Asia Pacific in terms of increased security threats via online banking,” says Pilao.
“Because Philippine facility is readily available so access to online banking is simple. Third is the sending habits of Filipinos of going online, with the huge volume of merchandise that will enter the Philippines this holiday season. This is a very encouraging season for cyber criminals to strike against payments,” she says.
The Philippines used to figure at the top ten list of countries that are highly susceptible to ransomware, a program used to extract and ransom data.
But in 2014, the Philippines improved its ranking as it moved down the list to top 20.
“Ransomeware infects corporate and company systems since 2004. There has been an increase of its activity not just in the Philippines but around world. It goes through our emails , compromises our systems and the malware open gates that compromise websites,” she says.
“There were instances when crypto-ransomware breaks into the enterprise using legitimate source of transaction and then ask you to pay. It kidnaps data bank screen and data breach happens mostly to financial institutions, government systems and telecommunications companies. Even now on healthcare and hospital and insurance processes,” says Pilao.
In the Philippines, the insurance sector is the single institution that most malwares and malicious software target.
“With just 1 percent infection by a ransomware, we are still under attack. The biggest misconception is that consumers are not connected to Internet but majority of attacks must have emanated from the operations of small and medium enterprises,” says Pilao.
A related recent study by Trend Micro discovered that 25 percent of data breaches are caused by hacking or malware and the most affected industry is the healthcare sector, accounting for more than a fourth of all breaches at 26.9 percent this past decade
Second was the education sector at 16.8 percent followed by government agencies at 15.9 percent, then the retail industry with 12.5 percent.
The stake is higher for bigger multinational companies as cybercriminals increase the cost of their attack based on the capabilities of the organization. Security comes with harsher legal implications not just for the violators but for the users to reinforce a proactive approach.
As the Internet of Things advances, smart devices or innovations that are used for public-facing technologies can be exploited, potentially causing virtual and physical destruction. Public transportation such as car and planes, and public utilities such as gas stations can become targets.
The study, conducted in the US, revealed that smart systems in cars can be accessed remotely to interfere with its functionality including life-critical ones like the brake. It was reported that Jeep Cherokee, through the car’s public IP address, can be hacked and controlled by another person miles away. BBC reported that even data sent by digital audio radio signals can intervene with a car’s functionalities.
In a Trend Micro’s research that involved SmartGate System which allows drivers to access their car’s data such as speed and fuel using their smartphone that was first introduced by Škoda Auto in its Fabia III cars, it was determined that any attacker can read more than 20 parameters and even lock out the owner of the car from the SmartGate system.
All the attacker needs to do is to stay within the SmartGate’s in-car Wi-Fi range (which is wide by default), identify the car’s Wi-Fi network, and then break the password. The Wi-Fi range could be even wider if the attacker is using a superior antenna.
Strategic partnerships prove to be vital in formulating immediate and long-term resolutions to combat cybercrimes. Trend Micro aided law enforcement agencies in taking down two notorious botnets that were heavily involved in full-scale cybercriminal operations—SIMDA.
Trend Micro worked closely with Interpol and provided information such as the IP addresses of the affiliated servers and statistical information about the malware used, which led to the disruption of the botnet activities.
Moving forward, organizations can stay protected on their own terms. Aside from being proactive, extra-cautious, and running information and education campaigns inside their organization, businesses can leverage on modern-day security solutions.
Trend Micro Deep Discovery, a threat protection platform, can help organizations respond to today’s targeted attacks in real time, says Pilao.
It provides advanced threat protection where it matters most. Deep Discovery is made up of four key solutions that will help detect, analyze, adapt, and respond to attacks.
“Even mobile applications are vulnerable to attacks. There are reports of highly malicious applications that prey on mobile users. The magnitude of attacks globally is pretty much alarming. We are seeing that most of the attacks in the last six months are pretty much more real to us because they are affecting public utility, public infrastructures, public services that you and I are obviously consumers. The snippets of attack on critical infrastructures like power grid, are not massive but nonetheless alarming. We need to be protected and on guard always,” Pilao says.
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