The Philippines is a favorite of cyber criminals because of its high exposure to social media and weak cyber security.
A report released by the global cybersecurity giant Symantec Corp. showed that the Philippines ranks 20th worldwide and third in the Asia-Pacific region for social media scams and 7th in the Asia-Pacific for ransomware attacks, with an average of 17 attacks per day.
Peter Sparks, Symantec senior director for Cyber Security Services in the Asia-Pacific and Japan, said the Philippines is more exposed to cyber attacks because it is one of the fastest nations to adopt technology and the Internet.
Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR) Volume 21, which covers attacks in 2015, revealed that cyber criminals adopted “best practices” and established professional businesses in order to increase the efficiency of their attacks against enterprises and consumers.
The report said these “professional cyber criminals” rule the entire ecosystem of attackers, extending the reach of enterprise and consumer threats and fueling the growth of online crime.
“Advanced criminal attack groups now echo the skill sets of nation-state attackers. They have extensive resources and highly-skilled technical staff that operate with such efficiency that they maintain normal business hours and even take the weekends and holidays off,” Sparks said.
“We are even seeing low-level criminal attackers create call center operations to increase the impact of their scams,” he added.
According to the Symantec report, professional cyber attackers usually target “zero-day vulnerabilities,” or the holes in software unknown to the seller, and use them to their own advantage.
Last year, the zero-day vulnerabilities discovered have more than doubled, to a record of 54, which is 125 percent higher than a year before.
Malwares, on the other hand, increased to 430 million new variants in 2015, which proves that cyber criminals look for new avenues to overwhelm defenses and enter corporate networks.
The data also showed that 191 million records were stolen in a single incident last year, compromising 429 million in personal information and identities.
Of the stolen information, a number of companies chose not to report the number of records lost.
“The increasing number of companies choosing to hold back critical details after a breach is a disturbing trend. Transparency is critical to security. By hiding the full impact of an attack, it becomes more difficult to assess the risk and improve your security posture to prevent future attacks,” Sparks said.
Symantec also reported that there is an emergence of ransomware in 2015, with a 35 percent growth in a more damaging variant of crypto-ransomware attacks. Ransomware are softwares intended to break into a computer system, restrict all kinds of access and demand a ransom from the user to remove the system restrictions.
The Philippines ranks 40th globally for ransomware attacks, with an average of 17 attacks per day.
Symantec advised businesses to partner with organizations or companies with advance threat and adversary intelligence solutions to fool-proof systems, as well as conduct continuous education and training to combat cyber threats.
It also urged consumers to use unique passwords, install credible Internet security software and back up personal data.