The Philippines is twice more prone to advanced cyber attacks than other countries, according to research done by a cyber security firm.
FireEye Inc., a company that develops cyber security platforms, said that about 30 percent of organizations surveyed in the Philippines were targeted with advanced cyber attacks in the second half of last year. The figure is double the worldwide average of exposure to advanced cyber attacks, which is 15 percent.
FireEye disclosed that three groups of computer hackers or advanced persistent threat (APT) are targeting local organizations.
“The Philippines’ cyber security gap is an urgent economic and national security concern.
Organizations here are frequently targeted by advanced attackers. As geopolitical tensions drive rapid militarization in the West Philippine Sea [South China Sea], it is important [that]we acknowledge the first shots in any conflict will be fired in cyberspace,” Eric Hoh, FireEye’s president for Asia Pacific, said on Tuesday.
“In this new era, nations with weak cyber defenses can expect their infrastructure, services and defensive capabilities to be significantly eroded in armed conflict,” he added.
Among those targeted by hackers are the government, business services (including outsource service providers), gaming and hospitality sector, aerospace, defense and shipbuilding business.
“When organizations fall victim to advanced cyber attacks, there can be many negative side effects, including disrupted operations, financial losses, reputational damage and lawsuits,” said Marshall Heilman, vice president and executive director of the Incident Response and Red Team Operations at FireEye.
“In order to build a stronger security posture, it’s critical that organizations not only put technology in place to detect and respond to these attacks, but that they also bring together expertise and strong threat intelligence,” he added.
In the second semester of 2015, the sectors in Asia Pacific that were mostly exposed to APT attacks were federal governments; entertainment, media and hospitality sectors; manufacturing, energy and utilities; local governments; and services or consulting and financial services.
In April last year, FireEye uncovered a decade-long state-sponsored cyber espionage campaign by a China-based group. The operation targeted governments, businesses and journalists. FireEye’s analysis of the group’s malware yielded clues that the group targeted the Philippines.
In November last year, Singtel Group Enterprise Chief Executive Officer Bill Chang said the banking sector is the most targeted by hackers in the Philippines, given the high financial gain and the inability of some banks to invest in cyber security.
The latest victim of cyber criminals was the Bangladesh Bank, which was robbed of $81 million. The money was transferred to the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.