APAC bore brunt of cyberattacks in 2016

Asia-Pacific experienced the most number of cybersecurity attacks last year across different forms, clocking three times more online banking malware than North America.

Asia-Pacific bore the brunt of cyberattacks last year, experiencing the highest number of attempted threats across different forms among all other regions.

For instance, 317,833 online banking malware were detected in the region, three times more than North America and six times more than Latin America, revealed Trend Micro, which identified and analysed threats through its global database.

The security vendor said it blocked more than 80 billion attacks worldwide in 2016. It tracked 14 markets in Asia-Pacific, including Singapore, China, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, and India. Other regions it monitored included markets in North America, EMEA, and Russia.

It noted that ATMs operating outdated platforms such as Windows XP Embedded, for which Microsoft had ended security support, were hot targets, while banking Trojans and skimmers were popular methods used by hackers.

Some 500,000 unknown threats emerged each day, according to Trend Micro's Asia-Pacific managing director Dhanya Thakkar.

Some 27 percent of ransomware attacks launched were targeted at enterprises and individuals based in Asia-Pacific, compared to 25 percent aimed at EMEA, and 22 percent at Latin America. Last year also saw record number of online extortion, where ransomware grew by 752 percent and clocked US$1 billion in financial gains.

Trend Micro said it blocked 435,709 exploit kits in Asia-Pacific, again, the highest among all regions. Some of these were used to deliver ransomware, it said, adding that 18 percent of all known ransomware families were sent via exploit kits. The top three most popular kits used were RIG, Magnitude, and Sundown.

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks also gained traction last year in the US and Asia-Pacific, with breaches that turned unsecured IoT (Internet of Things) devices into zombie bots becoming a significant problem, said Trend Micro. It pointed to the Mirai botnet, which was powered by some 100,000 connected objects.

This year would likely see open source ransomware and ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) gain further traction and aiding cybercriminals in their ransomware operations.

In a separate report released earlier this month, Kaspersky Lab and B2B International also noted the increasing volume of DDoS attacks, with 43 percent of businesses worldwide falling victim to such attacks.

Some 56 percent of DDoS victims in Asia-Pacific blamed their competitors for the attacks, while 33 percent attributed the threats to former employees. Another 28 percent pointed the finger at foreign governments.

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