PHL is top target of banking malware in Asia-Pacific, Kaspersky says

 PHL is top target of banking malware in Asia-Pacific, Kaspersky says
Screenshot via Kaspersky

The Philippines had the highest number of users attacked by banking Trojans — a type of malicious software — in the Asia-Pacific (APAC). According to cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, the country accounts for 22.26% of all banking Trojans discovered in the region in 2021.

The rise of digital payments in the region paired with insufficient protective measures in personal devices have led to banking Trojans counting among the most impactful malware for online consumers.

Other vulnerable countries include Bangladesh (12.91%) and Cambodia (7.16%), according to data presented at Kaspersky’s Cybersecurity Weekend virtual media forum on Thursday.

“APAC has always been one of the leaders in digital payment adoption, driven by developed countries like China, Japan, South Korea, and even India. This pandemic extended the use of this technology significantly further — particularly in still-emerging economies in Southeast Asia and South Asia,” said Vitaly Kamluk, research director of Kaspersky-APAC, at the forum.

He shared that Kaspersky Security Network‘s (KSN) historical data showed a certain form of financial attacks paralleling the rise of cashless payments: “After analyzing the figures we have on financial threats, we learned that there was an outbreak that started in early 2019 in APAC — banking Trojans.”

Banking Trojans are a dangerous type of malware that steals money from users’ bank accounts, either by obtaining credentials for access or one-time passwords to online bank accounts.

“We see that it will continue to pose a significant threat to both financial organizations and individuals here as we continue to see more users and startups dipping their feet into the digital payments field,” Mr. Kamluk added.

SECURING THE DIGITAL ECONOMY

Kaspersky’s latest study, titled “Mapping a secure path for the future of digital payments in APAC,” showed that 37% of respondents in the Philippines said they started using digital payments during the pandemic — the highest in the region — followed by India at 23% and Australia at 15%.

“Businesses are now digitalizing their operations to capture additional revenue through digital payments, while consumers are heavily reliant on it due to the ease and convenience it offers,” said Chris Connell, Kaspersky-APAC managing director.

However, given the threats that come with it, a great number remain skeptical: first-time users admitted being afraid of losing money online (48% of respondents), being afraid of storing their financial data online (41%), and finding the whole process of coming up with passwords and security questions too troublesome (26%).

Though digital payments are convenient and safe in an era of social distancing, all sectors must secure the digital economy moving forward, added Mr. Connell.

Mr. Kamluk shared reminders to protect against cybercrime:

For individuals:

Update your software regularly.
Pay attention to security software alerts.
Be more suspicious in communication.
Use complex passwords and two-factor authentication (2FA).
Use hardware digital wallets and diligently follow its security protocols.
Install a reliable security solution for your devices, including mobile phones.

For businesses and financial organizations:

Defend your perimeter with reliable vendor.
Run cybersecurity drills.
Verify your supply chain software.
Monitor the latest trends and attacks.
Motivate staff to report suspicious findings and contacts.

— Bronte H. Lacsamana