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Friday, August 26, 2016, 23:28

Rising number of cyber attacks worries industry leaders

By Honey Tsang

HONG KONG – Ransomware and business email compromise are now the most prevailing types of cyber attacks around the world, industry leaders say.

They were discussing latest trends in the cyber crime landscape at an internet security conference - CLOUDSEC on Aug 26 in Hong Kong.

Experts urged the public and enterprises to be vigilant about these threats and to develop a security-savvy mindset.

The first half of 2016 had seen a surge of worldwide ransomware attacks. A global internet content security service provider Trend Micro detected and blocked around 80 million ransomware threats during this time. Of these 58 percent were attachments in spammed emails, 40 percent were downloads from URLs hosting ransomware or exploit kits leading to ransomware, and 2 percent were ransomware files.

According to the Hong Kong Computer Emergency Response Team, CryptXXX and Locky are two of the most common types of ransomware in Hong Kong. Attackers can encrypt a victim’s files after he or she opens a malicious email attachment or visits a compromised website.

The victims will then be directed to pay the ransom in bitcoins in exchange of a decryption key.

Business email compromise (BEC) scheme is another big problem Hong Kong faces today. According to Trend Micro’s statistics, Hong Kong was the third most affected region hit by BEC, with 226 cases recorded during the first half of 2016. There were 2,496 cases reported in the United States and 595 in the United Kingdom during this time.

Marketing Director of TrendLabs at Trend Micro Myla Pilao told China Daily that the BEC is looking into usual transactions in trade, commerce and business transfers. And Hong Kong "has a lot of that”, Pilao said.

In such cases, the scammers often disguise as the chief executive of an enterprise and send out fraudulent emails requesting an online transfer to the firm’s employees.

The cyber attacks are growing more frequent and becoming more sophisticated. However, the business sectors, organizations and the public have not come fast enough to the forefront in the battle against cyber criminals, the experts told the conference.

According to the latest cyber security survey done by Trend Micro, less than one in 10 companies in Asia Pacific thoroughly understand how cyber exploits and security breaches are performed.

Patrick Ho, principal consultant of Maximus, told China Daily the impact of cyber attacks is disastrous, nonetheless, it is also preventable. It is essential to educate employees with a security-savvy mindset to avoid falling victim to the cyber threats, he added.

Hosted by Trend Micro, CLOUDSEC held its sixth annual edition in Hong Kong on Aug 26, with the intention of raising public awareness of sweeping cyber threats and offering technical know-how to enterprises to prevent and control cyber attacks.

honeytsang@chinadailyhk.com

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