September 05, 2018
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Malaysia’s digital economy has been on a rapid trajectory, both as a growing e-commerce market—Malaysian consumers will spend $1.38bn online in 2018, according to Statistica, a 24% increase over 2017—and as a global hub for digital services thanks to its concentration of data centres. As connectivity becomes ever more integral to Malaysia’s overall economic development, it also increases the nation’s attractiveness for cyber-criminals.
Proliferating digital consumers, devices, and data centres creates “an expanding digital attack surface,” says Alex Loh, Malaysia country manager for networking and security firm Fortinet. “IT resources have been pushed to their limits due to the growing adoption of IoT devices and networks, the geometric growth of traffic driven by applications and big data, the creation of complex and highly elastic multi-cloud environments, and the number of highly mobile users demanding network access from anywhere on any device.”
As a result, the nature of cybersecurity incidents is evolving in the country. Data from Malaysia’s Computer Emergency Response Team (MyCERT) shows that while overall incidents are down, fraud-related threats (which have averaged more than two-thirds of all recorded cybersecurity events in 2018) and malware infections are on the rise.
Fraud, malware, and crypto-mining
Dato’ Dr. Haji Amirudin Abdul Wahab, CEO of CyberSecurity Malaysia, a government agency created in 2005 as an emergency response centre for tackling the growing challenges of cyber-malfeasance, sees the continued rise in fraud threats as somewhat of a function of Malaysia’s success as a digital economy. “Fraud has always been one of the most reported incidents in Malaysia,” he says, “including phishing, fraud purchase, illegal investment, business email compromise, and impersonation. This is due to more and more users are engaged online, doing various online activities and transactions.”
He notes that fraud is becoming more sophisticated: while targets are still mainly individual consumers, “the trend now is moving to targeting online business,” where gains are higher. Business Email Compromise (BEC), in particular, is increasingly prevalent.
According to Loh, attackers are actively looking for known vulnerabilities, taking advantage of newly announced zero-day threats, and maximising the accessibility of malware for bad intent. Cybercriminals are also adding IoT devices to their arsenal of tools used for mining for cryptocurrency. These devices are an especially attractive target because of their rich source of computational horsepower, which can be used for malicious purposes. Another critical factor is the fact that these devices tend to always be on and connected, enabling attackers to load them with malware that is continually engaged in crypto mining.
While ransomware continues to impact organisations in destructive ways, there are indications that some cybercriminals now prefer hijacking systems and using them for crypto-mining rather than holding them for ransom.
Beefing up defences
Orchestrating a strong and coordinated response has long been part of the government’s strategy for developing a digital economy. According to the Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) 2017, Malaysia was ranked third among 193 countries in terms of its commitment to cyber security. Malaysia achieved a score of 0.89, behind Singapore and the United States. State-of-the-art cybersecurity solutions are key for delivering a truly digital nation, notes Dr Amir.
Cybersecurity Malaysia has launched a number of capacity-building efforts both nationally and internationally. These include collaborating with the National Security Council on an annual simulation that tests emergency preparedness of the country’s Critical National Information Infrastructure (CNII) agencies, launching the Global Accredited Cybersecurity Education (ACE) Scheme as an accreditation programme for IT security professionals, and developing MyCERT as a resource centre with technical and non-technical advice for containing incidents.
As cybersecurity threats continue to evolve, the private sector is also active in educating the next generation of cyber-defenders. Loh describes how Fortinet has partnered with the Universiti Teknologi Petronas to develop a network security academy aimed at producing “elite cybersecurity professionals”.
All of these efforts will be vital for keeping pace with the emerging nature of cyber-threats. “Cyber-criminals are also becoming smarter and faster in how they leverage exploits [network vulnerabilities] to their advantage,” he says. “With over 100,000 known exploits, most organisations cannot patch vulnerabilities fast enough to keep up.”
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May 19, 2022
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The rise of digital banking and accelerated digital transformation have brought about new security concerns. Criminals are turning their attention to gullible online users, creating ever-so sophisticated scamming schemes to defraud them. At the enterprise level, threat actors are opportunistically using the shifting work environment to adopt tactics to infiltrate organisations.
Statistics1 from the Commercial Crime Investigation Department at the Royal Malaysia Police show that cybercrime is skyrocketing as consumers shift to online channels.
Between 2017 and June 20, 2021, Malaysians suffered losses amounting to about RM2.23 billion (US$533 million) from cybercrime frauds.
Of the 67,552 cybercrime cases reported during the period, e-commerce scams topped the chart with 23,011 cases. Meanwhile, complaints on online transactions surged 112% between 2019 and 2020, indicating that cybercriminals are looking to capitalise on the surge in e-commerce activity and rapid consumer adoption of digital financial solutions amid the new normal brought about by the COVID-19.
The pandemic forced consumers to turn to online retailers to buy groceries and e-wallets to pay their bills. A survey conducted2 by Kaspersky and research agency YouGov found that out of the 1,600+ respondents in Asia-Pacific (APAC) polled, 90% indicated having used mobile payment applications at least once in the past 12 months. Around 15% of the total survey respondents said they began using digital payment methods during the pandemic.
At the enterprise-level, cyber threats are exploding as well. The 2022 IBM Security X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, released3 last month, revealed that Asia has become the most attacked region globally, with over one in four cyber attacks recorded by the tech firm last year targeting users in the continent.
Asia saw more cyber attacks than any other region in the past year, the report says, with financial services and manufacturing organisations in particular experiencing nearly a combined 60% of attacks in Asia.
Server access attacks, where the attacker gains unauthorised access to a server, was the second-most common attack type observed, making up 11% of all incidents IBM’s X-Force IR team remediated in 2021. The majority of these attacks occurred in Asia, and in many cases the threat actors were successful in deploying malware or employing penetration testing tools on a server, the report indicates.
The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation and forced people to change the way they worked, transacted, and banked. This unprecedented speed of digital transformation is putting stress on banks’ IT systems, compromising real-time data analysis, and creating storage and security issues.
A recent survey4 of 305 global bank COOs and CTOs conducted by data-monitoring and management company – ITRS Group, found alarmingly weak operational resilience at financial institutions in the wake of COVID-19.
84% of respondents stated that their IT environment has changed more in the past 12 months than over their company’s lifespan, with digital transformation, work-from-home arrangements, cloud adoption, and more sophisticated security threats cited as the top drivers of change in banks’ IT environment. The figure stands even higher for APAC-based institutions where the velocity of IT change was found to be the greatest.
Globally, 79% of respondents indicated that it has become increasingly difficult for their institution to maintain their SLAs, or service-level agreements, with more than half stating that they suffered at least one business day of unplanned downtime every year.
Additionally, 94% stated that digital transformation has resulted in a significant increase in the volume of data, leading to challenges in analysing data in real-time (65%), storing data (62%), and difficulties in securing data (62%), creating a concerning trend.
As more people rely on digital payments and get accustomed to digital services, awareness of cyber risks and crime is also on the rise.
In fact, security is becoming consumers’ top concern, with 67% of Southeast Asian respondents polled by Kaspersky and YouGov indicating that they hope for the implementation of one-time passwords (OTPs) through SMS for every transaction.
After OTPs, two-factor authentication was named the second most preferred security feature (57%), while 56% of respondents said biometric security features, like facial or fingerprint recognition, should be added for digital banking and e-wallets.
Going even further, a considerable proportion of consumers believe that financial services providers should play a bigger role in protecting their customers from being defrauded. In fact, 40% of respondents indicated that banks and mobile wallet companies should “start preventing frauds/scams automatically based on spending behavior and/or transfer history.”
With increasing international cooperation and the establishment of multiple task forces to trace ransomware gangs, Kaspersky experts believe the number of such attacks will decrease in 2022.
Instead, cybercriminals will turn to more advanced scams and social engineering as they seek to exploit human and system vulnerabilities. These scams will leverage all sorts of tools and channels, ranging from SMS and automated phone calls to messaging apps and social networks, and will be fueled by the availability of advanced technologies such as deepfake and voice synthesis, the experts said, quoted5 by Vietnam News.
In Thailand, nearly 40,000 people were scammed with their bank accounts and credit cards showing inexplicable transactions. In Malaysia, scammers used fake bank websites to steal customers banking details. And in Vietnam, criminals impersonated top e-commerce platforms to trick users into sending money.
Kaspersky experts predict a significant wave of attacks on cryptocurrency businesses, a trend that started in 2019 and which coincides with the beginning of the cryptocurrency market’s bull run.
Figures from blockchain data platform Chainalysis show6 that cryptocurrency-based crime, including scams, ransomware, and stolen funds, hit a new all-time high in 2021, with illicit addresses receiving US$14 billion over the course of the year, up 79% from RM32.91 billion (US$7.8 billion) in 2020.
Kaspersky experts said they have already witnessed advanced persistent threat (APT) groups rising to attack the cryptocurrency business aggressively, and they anticipate that this activity will continue as criminals increasingly exploit flawed security and resort to advanced techniques including manufacturing and retailing rogue devices with backdoors and social engineering campaigns to steal cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies are particularly attractive to criminals, considering the anonymity they provide.
Southeast Asia could be more vulnerable than other countries, considering that consumers in these locations are known for being avid adopters of cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Among 20 countries surveyed by Kaspersky, the Philippines was found to have the highest adopter rate of 32% of Filipinos indicating owning digital assets. This is followed by Thailand (26.2%), ranked second, then Malaysia (23.9%). Vietnam (17.4%) was fifth and Singapore (6.8%) 14th.
The urgency of addressing the relentless surge of cyber threats impacting both the public and business sectors is a fundamental step to enabling a sustainable, safe and successful digital society. As a key player in digital transformation for companies across industries, TM One’s commitment to cybersecurity helps to create a safe and secure online environment for businesses and protect consumers from fraud and identity theft.
TM One has collaborated with CyberSecurity Malaysia, the national cybersecurity specialist agency, to elevate the nation’s cybersecurity network and ecosystem while strengthening Malaysia’s self-reliance in cyberspace.
“At TM One, we understand that new technologies are driving the accelerated digital transformation for many industries, allowing players to respond quickly to changes as well as provide customers with better digital experiences. Having a strong cybersecurity foundation will benefit Malaysian financial institutions not only mitigate cyber risk, but boost performance. Our Managed Security Services are designed to meet the specific needs of financial institutions and take their digital transformation forward to effectively improve operations, address compliance requirements, and enable open ecosystems,” said Muhammad Ghadaffi Mohd Tairobi, Director of Sales for Banking and Financial Services at TM One.
Do you know what are the key sources of cyber risk in Malaysia? Click here to download the infographics.
This article was first published by FinTech News Malaysia
November 10, 2021
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Recent attacks on two major companies in Singapore – real estate group OY Group and Starhub, a telecom provider – were instances of an alarming surge of cyber-attacks around the globe. A mid-year 2021 global report from UK based cybersecurity specialist Acronis highlights that the average cost of a data breach was around US$3.56 million. The average ransomware payment increased by 33 per cent to more than USD100,000.
Covid-19 has further exposed multiple unauthorised excursions into an organisation’s information and processes. It is commonly asserted by experts that a cyber-attack is now a question of when and not if. Despite their best intentions, every organisation is continually at risk and is susceptible to such attacks, warned cybersecurity experts from TM One, the enterprise and public sector arm of Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM), during the CYDES 2021 summit.
With the focus on diving deep into how public and private sectors can strengthen their cybersecurity preparedness, experts from a variety of fields gathered to openly share various insights, tools, tricks and approaches. A common consensus is that complexity is one of the real challenges to effective cybersecurity implementations in today’s hybrid Cloud era. Here are three critical keys to counter cyber security threats.
Securing faster ID authentication
Combining blockchain and biometric recognition offers a more robust and secure method of authenticating a user’s identity, said Rahmah Isahak, Assistant General Manager, Digital Identity Cluster, Innovative Solutions at TM One during the summit.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced more organisations to find ways to complete transactions remotely and enable remote access to systems. As this trend is expected to continue, identity authentication of users is of vital importance to an organisation’s security and to drive seamless operations.
“A blockchain system allows data to be held collectively, which prevents any malicious tampering. Users can register their identity details into this system, and a cybersecurity organisation or service provider such as TM One will then ensure that it is impenetrable to hackers,” she explained.
TM One offers Blockchain Secure Authentication (BSA) as part of its Cyber Defence Centre’s (CYDEC) Digital Identity pillar, focusing on digital identity protection. It is a password-less authentication technology to avoid credential attacks, a condition when cybercriminals bypass organisational security measures and steal important data. This solution has its use cases in various verticals, such as in banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI), healthcare, social media services and retail sectors.
“Not only blockchain verification is secure, it is also fast. It is able to authenticate users in less than three seconds,” she said. “Combining a system with biometrics will enable the authentication process to be entirely password-less for employees.”
“Biometric technology, such as facial recognition systems, do not require users to memorise passwords. There are many cases in the media that show hackers accessing passwords, whereas biometric authentication helps organisations to sidestep password theft,” she added.
The future of security is automation
The second key highlight was automated cybersecurity systems. “Automation allows IT teams to optimise resources while reducing human error in security responses,” explained Dr Azman Ali, Head of Information Security Services, Professional Services at TM One, when he spoke at CYDES.
Automation and increasing digitisation are features that both include and go beyond cybersecurity systems, Dr Azman shared. “Mobile apps, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI ) and automation can be used to replace the repetitive manual tasks as part of the government’s digital transformation efforts.”
“One example of this is data collection in the healthcare industry sector. A vast amount of new personal information is being generated that could potentially help to enhance pandemic handling,” said Dr Azman. He pointed out that: “Digital transformation initiatives will help better manage this huge stream of data and assist in extrapolating actionable insights, but let’s not forget, that this need to be done securely while making privacy a top priority.”
Partnering with cybersecurity experts
Many businesses do not have the required tools and skills to protect themselves in today’s highly complex and rapidly changing threat landscape. In light of this, the option of working with a security partner is rapidly becoming another key solution. TM One offers a subscription service that includes world-class tools to uncover vulnerabilities in organisations and, additionally, helps to upskill an organisation’s internal security team.
The cyber squad at TM One comprises architects, consultants and analysts. Architects focus on designing security systems, which the consultants help to enhance. Meanwhile, analysts will provide critical security information by continually assessing upcoming threats, explained Dr Azman.
As part of its world-class cybersecurity portfolio, TM One provides 16 products, which include identity access, IoT, Cloud, and others, to secure systems from today’s threats and breaches. Global communications firm Telefonica, which works directly with TM One as its global Security Operations Centre partner, helps to actively consult and also advises on cybersecurity matters. Leveraging on the expertise of both companies, Malaysian organisations can be assured of fortified cybersecurity solutions to build their cyber resiliency and trust in the digital era.
As experts in Cloud services, TM One was appointed as one of the cloud service providers for the Malaysian government in April 2021, said Dr Azman. “TM has played a huge part during the pandemic with its work with healthcare organisations and in creating internet infrastructure.”
Moving forward, connecting the digital dots requires a holistic stance in today’s highly challenging environment, with cybersecurity as a foundational part of the mix, said TM One’s experts during the summit. Their positioning of three keys — authentication, automation and assistance – will help organisations to greatly strengthen their cybersecurity preparedness.
November 02, 2021
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TM One experts share insights on implementing a Zero Trust approach to guard against new cybersecurity challenges
All governments and organisations today need to be aware that they are fully at risk from cyber-attacks, as demonstrated by recent high profile media reports of breaches in critical infrastructures – such as Colonial Pipeline – to large multinational organisations.
According to a recent Ponemon Institute survey, 44% of organisations experienced a third-party data breach in the last 12 months that resulted in the misuse of sensitive or confidential information. 63% of organisations say that remote access is their weakest attack surface.
Cybersecurity professionals must learn to flexibly adapt when new challenges arise in a scenario wherein 2021, cybersecurity experts claim there are 10 types of hackers ranging from white hat, black hat, grey hat, script kiddies to activists and malicious insiders.
The current consensus among white hat hackers and cybersecurity specialists is to advise the government and organisations to pivot from detection to prevention strategies, which will be affected by reducing the attack surface and preventing known and unknown attacks. These days, no organisation can trust luck to avoid attacks. It is just a matter of when and how to mitigate and recover from a successful attack.
Coming together at the CYDES 2021 conference, these experts discussed the areas in which organisations are most vulnerable. They also shared the latest cyber tools and strategies to help organisations adapt.
Interestingly, experts from Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) identified the malware as the cyberthreat that has consistently prevailed over decades and been weaponised in attacks, primarily those involving critical infrastructure.
What is the current challenge?
During the past three (3) years, malware has become increasingly sophisticated, a step above previous versions, explained Raja Azrina Raja Othman, Chief Information Security Officer at TM. The energy sector, a key aspect of a country’s critical national infrastructure, saw significant malware used for attackers’ persistence in compromised systems, she shared.
One example of this occurred in 2017 when malware was introduced into an oil refinery in Saudi Arabia. The malicious programmes were designed to shut down safety systems, increasing the likelihood of a catastrophic explosion, wrote Wired.
“Amongst security practitioners, we understand traditional malware defences have proven ineffective,” said Raja Azrina. Protection mechanisms should continue to evolve. For example, the way that organisations protect access points such as laptops “are changing and will continue to change.”
Moving to the Cloud without proper protections in place constitutes another challenge, Raja Azrina pointed out. She has seen organisations “that migrate without sufficient planning”, exposing valuable data to vulnerabilities.
Email servers present another attack surface for hackers to introduce viruses and malware. This has led to the loss of critical data and “can culminate in ransomware attacks,” she said.
Another example, a scam email sent to a Sydney hedge fund that contained a fake Zoom invitation. When users clicked on it, a malicious software programme was secretly implanted into the system, leading to losses of more than US$580,000, reported Australian Financial Review.
Implementing Zero Trust and data residency
Sometimes called ‘perimeterless’ security, a zero-trust security model is not a new approach to the design and implementation of IT systems – originally coined by a Forrester analyst in the early 1990s. However, it is rapidly becoming a favoured recommendation to counter vulnerabilities arising from the use of third party solutions in today’s complex IT information architecture.
“Perimeter defences and network segmentation remain highly relevant,” explained Raja Azrina. Segmentation helps to restrict access from one system to another, reducing the attack surface that hackers can target, and containing breaches as they occur.
Zero Trust is indeed a valuable approach. This model authenticates users each time they access an organisation’s network, systems or applications, blocking unauthorised users.
TM’s enterprise and public sector business arm, TM One, provides Zero Trust systems to help secure networks. Such a provision implements strong identity requirements to ensure networks are more ‘watertight’ against malicious intruders.
Furthermore, Raja Azrina highlighted data residency as a top concern when securing the Cloud. Different jurisdictions apply different laws to data, which can lead to legal complications arising when data is stored overseas.
One benefit of keeping data close to home is that organisations have easy access to their data centre. This is one of the reasons why TM One has built its Cloud centres in Malaysia, she explained.
Prevention is the best product protection and TM One provides additional cyber safeguards via two (2) tools that are available amongst its wide cyber security product portfolio.
First, a firewall creates a set of rules for websites to block malicious attempts to access information. TM One provides threat management by combining firewalls, anti-virus and anti-intrusion systems at the entry points to networks, according to its website.
Second, TM One helps to encrypt data transmitted across the internet, only allowing the sender and receiver to decrypt and view the data. Introducing this system would give citizens a trust point when accessing the site, maintaining the reputation of an organisation’s cybersecurity.
Another takeaway is that cybersecurity must be viewed as a marathon and not a sprint. Organisations must be able to sustain protections to keep ahead of evolving threats. Malware has recently proven to be a significant threat to public sector institutions and critical national infrastructures. A more robust and strategic approach of adopting Zero Trust, storing data locally, and the use of proactive security tools are essential in today’s rapidly changing environment.
July 27, 2021
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Raja Azrina Raja Othman
Raja Azrina is the Information Security Advisor at TM One and a renowned expert with over 25 years of experience in information security and computer crime, as well as advising the Malaysian government and various large corporations in devising their cybersecurity strategies. She has led in design, development and implementation of innovative solutions, which includes cyber crisis command system and endpoint solution for critical infrastructure
The Malaysia Cyber Security Strategy 2020-2024 (MCSS) outlines the key objectives and five strategic pillars that will govern all aspects of cybersecurity planning and implementation in the country. One of the focus areas is to improve national cyber resilience against cyber threats.
In line with the 10-year Malaysia blueprint road map of MyDIGITAL as announced by the Government, we will see a transformation of Malaysia into a digitally-driven, and regional leader in the digital economy and cybersecurity will be at the forefront. Organisations will need to build stronger digital trust and cyber resiliency resulting in a better-protected digital infrastructure and cleaner data in the cloud, through every endpoint.
“In the distant past, Incident Response and Forensics were an option. However, today the ability to detect, respond and mitigate in a prompt manner are essential services. Detection capability depends on level of threat visibility. Response capability is dependent on the level of rotection measures in place. We cannot perform effective response, without proper control measures in place. Reality is off-the-shelf systems, be it IT, IoT, IIoT and OT systems are vulnerable, in their default state. Thus, at TM One, designing security into the solution is inevitable,” says Raja Azrina.
Managing security incidents that affect your business in real-time can be confusing particularly to any organisation that is in the early period of its digital transformation.
Many businesses need real-time protection from cyber threats, as delays in determining attacks can have significant financial implications. Having limited and detached equipment, tools, and system hinder organisations to own effective and efficient end-to-end cybersecurity services. Finding out trusted well experience digital solutions providers are daunting while sorting it internally with a lack of trained and qualified in-house professionals and immature recovery planning is also a challenge.
For holistic cyber defense protection, your cybersecurity solutions need to be able to detect, respond, predict and protect your systems and data from the breach in real-time, 24/7.
Your partner is your first line of defense in ensuring the safety of your cyber ecosystem. Having the right experts who can manage your cybersecurity portfolio, with the ability to reach your data house digitally and also physically closer to your location is crucial. It offers a worry-free convenience, so you can focus on your core business operations without compromising on security.
TM One Cyber Defense Centre (CYDEC) offers fully-managed security services that detect, respond, predict and prevent cyberattacks. It protects a wide range of digital assets and services including those powered by the cloud and 5G, such as IoT applications, information technology and operational technology systems, primarily within Critical National & Information Infrastructure (CNII).
TM One’s recent partnership with Telefonica Global Solutions, combined with our own cybersecurity experts with extensive experience, CYDEC’s capability and capacity offers you a business value approach, enabling you to achieve faster identification of potential risks, addressing the gaps in security implementation, and providing you with the right recommendations based on information security strategy. These will ensure that organisations can quickly, accurately and strategically build their cybersecurity resilience in this new wave of digitalisation.
The EDGE Vertical Column: CYDEC
Organisations are responsible to protect and safeguard their business and customer data from cybercriminals. They need to have the right tools, processes and above all the right people, a team of cyber-intelligence experts or security analysts, in place at all times
Innovation is a key driver for organisations to generate new opportunities and to create greater value. It enables organisations to find fresh solutions to problems and generate value that they otherwise couldn't access. It takes leadership’s commitment to drive innovation across an organisation. With the right mix of people, tools and leadership, organisations can unlock their next advantage, today.
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A proactive strategy is when businesses wholly employ a good cybersecurity framework including leveraging new technologies and trends to keep their systems secure. Utilising artificial intelligence (AI) in cybersecurity and automation to bring benefits to their overall operations.
External attacks can happen on your Information Communication Technology infrastructure, Internet of Things (IoT) or operational technology (OT) devices, your cloud environment, remote service attacks, your supply chain infrastructure, or even as part of social engineering whereby your employee is targeted and lured to divulge sensitive information.
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