Up to 40 million Internet users across Southeast Asia came online for the first time in 2020, most of which coming from non-city areas in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Now with over 400 million netizens (about 70% of the region’s population), people and businesses in the area are doing just about anything online.
This is where it could get critical as the cyber threats continue to abound. With cybercriminals capitalizing on Covid-19 fears and the rapid adoption of online technologies, researchers from Kaspersky are identifying the seven key areas to watch out or in 2021:
As online payment services and transactions continue to rise, the risks are greater. The volume of phishing attacks is unsurprisingly on the rise, a trend that is expected to continue in 2021. On the lookout list would be cyber attacks with vaccination themes.
Kaspersky researchers warn that possible disinformation campaigns could get more rampant in the region in 2021 and 2022. Three countries are set to take their people to polls—Malaysia will conduct re-elections when the pandemic is overcome (which could be this year); Vietnam could have its general elections in 2021; while the Philippines will hold its scheduled national elections in 2022.
Widespread adoption of 5G technology is expected this year after telcos across the region started introducing the technology in 2019. It also helps that hardware vendors like Apple have been updating their 5G-compatible lineups. This could open avenues for potential attacks as 5G deployment becomes more software-oriented, which could have flaws.
Across the Southeast Asian region, remote health monitoring solutions and online health consultations have been on the rise amid the new normal. This makes the sector more vulnerable to cyberattacks as there are new regulatory restrictions, new treatments, and a rising number of potential victims.
Kaspersky and other analysts observed a reduction in ransomware attacks across the region in 2020. However, ransomware threats became more sophisticated, targeted, and dangerous. The amount of money demanded by cybercriminals has significantly increased.
More companies are getting into the cloud as business models change relative to convenience and scalability. This makes the cloud a new attack surface in 2021 as more businesses go onboard.
Industrial Control Systems (ICS)
Southeast Asia was among the worst-hit regions in terms of ICS attacks in 2020. Consequently, Malaysia and Indonesia have ramped up their national cybersecurity strategy, while the Philippines has also been adopting similar strategies by teaming up with the private sector. The year 2021 could be positive in this aspect.