Attacks Surge in 1H 2021 as Trend Micro Blocks 41 Billion Cyber Threats

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Ransomware remains primary threat as threat actors evolve tactics; stresses on cybersecurity as a critical component of 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) and upcoming Budget 2022

Global cybersecurity leader Trend Micro Incorporated announced today that it blocked 40.9 billion email threats, malicious files, and malicious URLs for customers in the first half of 2021, a 47% year-on-year increase.

In Malaysia specifically, Trend Micro found that:

  • A total of 232,701,368 attacks were blocked the first half of the year.
  • Over half consisted of email threats at 145,947,167, which registered an increase of 24% from 1H 2020. 
  • The number of detected malware increased by 160% from 1H 2020 to 6,604,199.

Globally, ransomware remained the standout threat in the first half of the year as cyber criminals continued to target big-name victims. Working with third parties to gain access to targeted networks, they used Advanced Persistent Threat tools and techniques to steal and encrypt victims’ data.

The banking industry, in particular, was disproportionately affected, experiencing a 1,318% year-on-year increase in ransomware attacks in the first half of 2021.

Attacks Surge in 1H 2021 as Trend Micro Blocks 41 Billion Cyber Threats

Trend Micro’s report further revealed that:    

  • Business email compromise (BEC) attacks increased by 4%, potentially as a result of new COVID-19 opportunities for threat actors.
  • Cryptocurrency miners became the most detected malware, having surged ahead of WannaCry and web shells in recent months.
  • The Zero Day Initiative detected 770 vulnerabilities, a slight (2%) drop from 1H 2020.
  • A total of 164 malicious apps related to COVID-19 scams were detected, 54% of which impersonated TikTok.    

“The first step towards effectively mitigating cyber risk is understanding the scale, complexity, and specific characteristics of the threat landscape,” said Goh Chee Hoh, Managing Director of Trend Micro Malaysia and Nascent Countries. “In addition to comprehensive protection against fast-evolving threats like ransomware, phishing, and BEC that Trend Micro offers, our biannual roundup reports provide global organizations and stakeholders invaluable insights to help them build a more secure connected world.”

Cybersecurity critical component to 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) and Budget 2022 digital transformation emphasis

The biannual roundup report is timely and coincides with the tabling of the 12MP on September 27, which maps out a five-year development plan to put the economy back on a growth trajectory post Covid-19 pandemic and into a high-income economy status by 2025. This includes positioning Malaysia as a digital hub for ASEAN.

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It also comes on the back of the first-ever 2022 Pre-Budget Statement issued by the Ministry of Finance on August 31, where the emphasis to accelerate the transition towards IR4.0 and digital transformation remains all the more urgent.  

According to Goh, “We welcome the government’s unwavering commitment to stimulating Malaysia’s digital economy and infrastructure as a core element of the nation’s economic recovery.

The 12MP’s focus on digitizing businesses and facilitating strategic investments is a solid testament to Malaysia’s potential in its capabilities and offerings in the digital and cybersecurity space. 

“While cloud transformation and enhanced connectivity have been identified as significant areas in this aspect, we are in tandem with the government’s emphasis on cybersecurity as a critical component in building the digital ecosystem of the future. Our roundup report evidently shows that the cyber risk and complexity of global attacks have significantly increased, thus the focus on cybersecurity is imperative and should be the foundation in any digitalization journey.”  

The report’s overall findings highlight the effectiveness of – and increasing need for – a holistic and scalable cybersecurity solution at the enterprise level. As threats continue to increase in frequency and sophistication, enterprise SOC teams will require a platform that can streamline security processes without sacrificing reliability.

In addition, Goh expressed his hopes that the upcoming Budget 2022 announcement would explore initiatives to enhance existing policies to solidify the nation’s cybersecurity posture, especially in the areas of cybersecurity legislation and digital talent development.

“We urge the government to allocate substantial investments in upskilling the digital workforce, especially in the area of cloud and cybersecurity expertise, to meet the national digital agenda, as well as to reinforce cyber laws as a deterrent to malicious activities.”

Budget 2022 will focus primarily on continuing to protect and restore the lives and livelihoods of the people and businesses, rebuild national resilience, and catalyze economic recovery. In addition, the Budget will serve as a catalyst towards the implementation of the 12MP that will drive medium term economic growth, inclusiveness, and sustainability.

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