Cybersecurity leader Trend Micro emphasizes the pressing need to elevate the online habits and cybersecurity awareness of Filipinos and business organizations amidst the rise of telecommuting and digital services in the country.
With the digital shift in workplaces, daily routines, and proliferation of online-based services brought about by the pandemic, Filipinos are becoming more prone to cyber threats and information technology (IT) attacks.
PH among top countries with malicious URLs, malware, email threats
The cybersecurity firm’s in-house data for February 2021 show that the Philippines ranked fourth globally and second in Southeast Asia in terms of the number of attempts to access a malicious URL.
Further data show that the Philippines ranked twenty-fourth globally and fourth in the region in terms of malware detection.
The banking sector is no exception as the country ranked fourteenth in banking malware detections on a global scale and third at the regional level.
Email threats are also prevalent in the Philippines with the country being ninth in Southeast Asia and seventy-fifth globally. Among common email threats are phishing, emails with malicious attachments, malicious links, and spam messages.
According to Trend Micro, these figures prove that Filipinos are more at risk of cybercrimes and threats now more than ever.
Rise of targeted ransomware attacks
Among the cyber threats that individuals and organizations alike should look out for is ransomware, said Trend Micro.
Ransomware is described as malware that locks the system’s screen or user’s files to block access. Access is only provided by the attacker when a ransom is paid.
Experts at Trend Micro warn that from a global perspective, this malware has evolved into becoming targeted ransomware attacks. Cybercriminals will now hit specific companies and industries and use ransomware to get a big payout.
In their 2020 Annual Cybersecurity Report, the firm shared that there is a trend in double-extortion attacks in the previous year. Aside from denying access to systems and files, ransomware operators threaten to expose files and sensitive information if the ransom is not paid.
“Given the risk of public exposure, victim organizations confronted the possibility of reputational damage as well as data loss,” the report said.
Top industries reportedly targeted by ransomware attacks in 2020 include the government, banking, manufacturing, healthcare, finance, education, technology, food and beverage, oil and gas, and insurance.
With the implementation of work-from-home arrangements around the country, both employees and employers are put at risk of cyber threats, Trend Micro added.
Work, sometimes carrying sensitive information, is done over home internet service providers that possibly use unpatched routers and machines. At times, company gadgets are used for personal purposes making these vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
Trend Micro predicts the possibility of cyber criminals offering hacked routers as a new service and selling access to home networks.
High-value home networks such as those of executives or IT admins could be rich targets by these malicious actors.
“Telecommuting will continue into 2021, and hybrid environments, where work and personal tasks comingle in one machine, will be challenging in terms of security. Organizations — especially global enterprises — will have less control over their data,” the firm detailed in their Security Predictions for 2021.
Security solutions and education
To combat these issues in the digital sphere, Trend Micro underscores the need for proper security solutions and employee education in the Philippines.
Security solutions involve securing whole ecosystems to ensure everything is protected from threats, taking into consideration the security of networks especially with work-from-home setups.
On top of that, employee education is highly recommended to raise individual awareness on threats and knowledge on proper steps in dealing with attacks such as suspicious emails, URLs, or websites.
Trend Micro is offering free tools, scans, and resources to help detect and fix viruses and other threat actors. To download for free, visit https://www.trendmicro.com/en_ph/forHome/products/free-tools.html. To check malicious websites, messages, and information for free, go to https://check.trendmicro.com.